Cheap & Free Google Analytics Alternatives: Looking for a Low-Cost Alternative to Google Analytics?

April 3, 2015

The first question you should ask yourself if you’re looking for a Google Analytics alternative is, of course: why?

There are a few key classes of reasons you might be unsatisfied with and want to find an alternative to Google Analytics:

  • Attribution
  • Troubleshooting
  • Real-Time Analytics
  • Paranoia

In this post we’ll walk through why you might be interested in any of the previous incentives to find a Google Analytics alternatives, as well as providing at least one possible free to cheap solution.

1. Google Analytics Alternatives for Attribution

Typically the problem here is one you’ll want to solve with a system that’s significantly more expensive and more full-featured than Google Analytics, which is free. SEO Moz had a nice run-down of alternatives to Google Analytics from an attribution perspective (the post is a bit old but many of the solutions – including Clear Saleing, Omniture, and Core Metrics) are still strong paid solutions.

A strong free option in this class is Yahoo Web Analytics or you can find some ways to alter the way Google Analytics handles attribution as well.

2. Troubleshooting Issues with Google Analytics Alternatives

Another reason you might want an alternative to Google Analytics is to help you troubleshoot specific (and typically particularly odd) issues – such as difficult-to-diagnose dips or spikes in traffic. Since we already have Google Analytics set up the idea here is to find analytics solutions that fill a gap Google Analytics doesn’t address. Since Google Analytics is a JavaScript-based analytics solution, what can be helpful here is to have a log-file-based analytics solution “running in the background” that you can reference if anything you’re having trouble putting a finger on is going on in your Google Analytics data.

There are a few good free options here, such as AwStats, and some others you can find listed here under log file analyzers.

3. Real-Time Web Analytics Alternatives to Google Analytics

Real-time Web analytics is a relatively “hot” space, and is a reaction to the fact that Google Analytics has a lot of latency in reporting. This can be handy and interesting for watching the types of visitors that are arriving at your site instantly, which can be useful for time-sensitive social media campaigns and instances where you’d want to respond to sources sending traffic in real time. The most notable solutions here are Chart Beat, Reinvigorate, Woopra, and Clicky (lest there was any question about which analytics solution was more en vogue – log file analysis or real-time Web analytics – you can take a look at each of the four previous Websites and juxtapose them with the Sourceforge page for AwStats).

4. Google Analytics Alternatives & Anti-Google Paranoia

A final reason for finding an alternative to Google Analytics is not wanting to give away your data to Google. For this motivation nearly any alternative analytic solution will do, in theory, but if you’re not installing Google Analytics on your site a few free alternatives can replace a lot of the functionality offered by Google Analytics: Yahoo Web Analytics, PiWik, and Open Web Analytics.

Ultimately there are a lot of reasons to use Google Analytics on your site in conjunction with paid and free solutions, and regardless of your reason for looking for an alternative you should consider the frequent integration with the Google Analytics API leveraged by many software vendors. However if you’re looking for an alternative to Google Analytics to solve a specific problem, there are quite a few free and cheap options out there.

Tom Demers

Tom Demers is Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content.