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Removing Google Analytics

I’ve been meaning to do it for some time and today I got round to removing Google Analytics from my site.

It was nice to occasionally see how many people/bots were visiting the site, and see where people were coming to from searches (mostly a few of my posts summarising books). But I didn’t look at this often and, crucially, I didn’t do anything with this information. It didn’t change or improve anything I do with the site. Satisfying my curiosity every few months doesn’t seem a good enough trade off with (a) loading extra JavaScript and (b) participating in surveillance capitalism (to phrase this small thing in a contemporarily over-the-top manner).

(Similarly, I must remember that when I embed YouTube videos here, I should use the enhanced-privacy embeds that use the domain.)

It would be nice to still have some kind of analytics. I like seeing any broad changes in traffic levels over long periods. I like seeing if any old posts get unusual levels of traffic. I like seeing what searches bring people here. I like seeing if there’s a new referrer, to see why they’re linking to me.

But I’m not sure there’s a way of doing that which is easy, cheap enough, and not part of Google etc. Fathom looks nice but I’m not curious enough about any of the above to pay $140 a year or bother with hosting it myself. In the olden days we’d use something like AWStats to process our server logs, which seems like a good idea… although as this site is on Heroku I’m not sure that’s feasible.

Maybe one day I’ll get Webmentions working, which would scratch my “new referrers” itch for the small number of sites sending Webmentions.

Anyway, free at last, etc. I still need to escape from Amazon too; Heroku’s based on AWS and this site’s images etc. are hosted on S3. But not today.

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