You need an analytics tool to track your performance.
But which one should you choose?
We’ve got you covered.
In this Fathom VS Google Analytics VS Independent Analytics comparison, you’ll discover each tool’s strengths & weaknesses.
By the end, it should be clear which one is best for your site.
To give you an understanding of how these tools compare, we’ve put together a table listing each feature and which tools support it. We’ve tried to highlight the most popular features amongst users.
|WordPress data tracking||No||No||Yes|
|Real-time analytics||Yes||Yes||Coming soon|
|Devices & browsers||Yes||Yes||No|
Google Analytics has tons of features that Fathom and Independent Analytics don’t, including many that aren’t listed in the table above. If you want an extremely robust analytics solution, it’s likely the best platform for you. However, it is complex, slows down your site, and is not GDPR compliant.
On the other hand, you have Fathom and Independent Analytics, which both offer fast-loading, cookieless, and GDPR-friendly visitor tracking. The biggest difference between them is that Fathom is an external SaaS app that costs $14/month, and Independent Analytics is a free WordPress plugin.
If you don’t use WordPress, then go with Fathom. If you do use WordPress, then Independent Analytics will likely be the better choice for your site.
Now that you have an idea of how these tools work and how they’re different let’s take a look at each tool individually.
What is Fathom?
Fathom is a privacy-focused analytics platform. It’s great if you have simple needs for your analytics and want to track visitors without violating EU privacy laws.
Fathom has a simple tracking code you can apply to your site to get started and an external dashboard where you can view the performance of all your websites.
Fathom is minimalistic, making it easy to pick up and use from day one. If you’re used to Google Analytics, you will find it refreshingly simple to implement and use on a regular basis.
While Fathom is very simple, that does mean it’s missing some advanced functionality Google Analytics has. For instance, it doesn’t track pages per session or the concept of sessions. There aren’t goals or funnel tracking, and filtering is more limited.
With that said, Fathom is a better fit for many sites because they simply don’t need these advanced features.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics has been the go-to web analytics solution for over a decade now. It’s incredibly robust and has basically defined web analytics.
As the most popular web analytics solution (by far), here’s why you might want to use it over another analytics tool.
Google Analytics strengths
Google Analytics stores a huge amount of data. There are reports for screen resolutions, geolocations, demographics, and site speed, just to name a few. There’s also a massive number of metrics and dimensions, and you can dig into all this data using both filters and segments at the same time.
The takeaway is: Google Analytics has tons and tons of data.
Quick tip: Google Analytics has free training courses available if you’re interested in learning how to use their platform.
Google Analytics weaknesses
Despite the enormous amount of data, the trouble with Google Analytics is that it’s difficult to extract valuable insights from it. There are times when the metric or dimension is unavailable when you need it most. Oftentimes, things that seem easy end up being quite difficult, or require custom code to implement.
The reality is that most folks running websites or small businesses don’t have the time to learn how to use Google Analytics proficiently, let alone customize it to work well for their business.
Additionally, the tracking script is heavy and will slow down your site, and there are major privacy implications with the way it records visitor data. In fact, it’s straight-up illegal to use in Germany 😱
At this point, taking the time to learn how to use Google Analytics effectively is a risky investment.
Independent Analytics is a free WordPress plugin that automatically tracks your visitors and adds a user-friendly dashboard right inside the WP admin.
You might be wondering if it’s actually better for WordPress users than a non-plugin. We think it is, and here’s why.
Independent Analytics strengths
As a WordPress plugin, Independent Analytics has access to data about your site that external tools don’t. This means that instead of showing you a list of URLs, it can display a list of your pages, along with data like the author and category.
This also allows you to filter your data in unique ways, such as viewing only your blog posts or only a custom post type. You can even filter by author, post category, and publication data.
One last strength is the fact that it’s a WordPress plugin and not an external app. This is great for privacy because your data is created and stored entirely on your server without making any external requests. It also means there is no external script to load, reducing its performance footprint to virtually zero.
Independent Analytics weaknesses
Independent Analytics’ biggest weakness right now is its relatively small feature set. It has referrers, campaigns, and geolocation data, but it doesn’t yet include event tracking, real-time analytics, or technology reports.
While these missing features may be a dealbreaker for you now, Independent Analytics is only a few months old, so most of these features will be implemented in the next few months.
Google Analytics has been the de facto web analytics solution for a very long time, but things are starting to change.
If you have a full-time data analyst on staff or have the time to learn Google Analytics, then it’s most likely the best choice for your site.
If you aren’t an analytics wizard or care deeply about data privacy, then Fathom, or Independent Analytics will work better for you. Deciding between the two is fairly simple: if you use WordPress, go with Independent Analytics; if you don’t, choose Fathom.
Thanks for reading this comparison of Fathom VS Google Analytics VS Independent Analytics. I hope it made your choice easy today, and if you still have any questions, feel free to post a comment below.