I am a software developer professional, not a web analytics professional. And when I launched my blog website, like most website owners, I wanted to look into some visitor analytics data. I immediately chose Google Analytics, because that was the most popular and obvious choice.
Now my website is one year old, and throughout that time I began feeling that Google Analytics was not the right tool for me. A month ago, I decided to search for an alternative to analytics service and found a great tool.
In this blog post, I explain what I was searching for, what I got and why I believe Yandex.Metrika is a great alternative to Google Analytics.
What I wanted
What I actually wanted was a tool that would:
- Show me almost real-time data about visitors.
- Show me where visitors come from, what they see, how much time they spend on my site and when they come back again.
- Provide me with either a heatmap or a click tracker (like Hotjar).
- Be free and incorporate data privacy.
- Be easy and simple to use.
Admitted, I am curious to know which kind of people visit my website and what interests you guys have. I want to know this, because then I can infer which of all my ideas are most usable to you, which writing style is easiest to understand and where in the world I can make new network connections.
I ended up choosing Yandex.Metrika, provided by the Russian internet technology company, Yandex.
Yandex is a company that started out providing web search and catalog services, but now they operate on an impressive palette of products and services, including payments, advertisements, artificial intelligence etc. Based on their offerings, I would roughly compare them to Google and Amazon.
It seems to me that Yandex is completely overlooked in large parts of the world, particularly in the Western world. In Denmark, where I grew up, almost everyone with a website would use Google Analytics, because that is the popular choice that everybody knows. And in Dubai, where I recently relocated to, Google Analytics also seems to be the mainstream choice.
Since I launched my website, I started using another one of their services, Yandex.Webmaster (a platform I might elaborate on another time), for submitting a sitemap and managing my search engine optimizations towards their platform.
Besides search, mail, maps and webmaster tools, Yandex also provides a wealth of other interesting services and open sourced technologies, which I plan on trying out very soon (stay tuned!). In general, I think these things deserve much more attention.
What does Yandex.Metrika do differently?
From my own subjective experience with Yandex.Metrika, this is overall how the tool does better than Google Analytics:
- Everything is real-time. In Google Analytics I found that real-time entails basic numbers for the past 30 minutes, more than that and I would have to wait until next day for more details.
- I can dig into each individual visitor in a visitor centric view. I do not have to browse different pages or set up different dimensions to know about a visitor.
- I get to watch session replay, which is free and really easy to use. It will also protect form input by masking the data and showing only random characters on replay.
From my personal experience with Yandex.Metrika, I no longer just look at overall numbers. I do not care so much about the total amount of visitors a blog post has had. I care more about where the visitors come from, how much they interact with the text, knowledge and ideas.
In short, I use the analytics tool like this:
Approximately once a day, I head into their platform, using either a web browser or their app. First, I take a quick look at the dashboard for an overview of the numbers. Then I always find myself quickly browsing to the Sessions overview to look up where new visitors came from and which pages they visited. Sometimes I even replay a few sessions, if they seem interesting from the numbers.
I chose Yandex Metrika, one of the contenders to Google Analytics, because I wanted a simpler way to see more detailed information about my visitors. Just try it out, then tell me about your own experience with it! You might be addicted to the features and the ease of use.