Great Options for Google Analytics, Self-Hosted, and Open Source Analytics for WordPress Sites
WordPress users have many options available for adding website visitor analytics to their web properties. This post explores several of the most popular and top-rated plugins for this.
Also includes pointers to related tools for monitoring website visitor traffic for B2B lead generation purposes.
Last Updated: May 28, 2020
What Are Website Visitor Analytics Tools?
Insights for Improving Website and Business Performance
Website analytics software helps website owners understand how their site visitors find and interact with their web properties.
The goal is to discover actionable insights that lead to business improvements.
The plugins profiled below are meant to be useful for a variety of WordPress site owners, including those who:
- Simply want an easy way to add Google Analytics to their website(s). These users may not have an easy option built into their WP theme, and/or want a simple plugin that is theme independent
- Want an easy and user-friendly Google Analytics dashboard, without having to go inside GA itself for everyday insights and analysis
- Want to find good alternatives to Google Analytics, including other cloud-based or even locally hosted tools
- Want to add special functionality based on Google Analytics or other platforms
- Want visual behavior analytics, e.g., visitor heatmaps and session recordings
How Do They Work?
For WordPress users, these tools come in the form of WordPress plugins, available within the WordPress plugin directory.
Once installed, enabled, and configured, the selected plugin(s) start tracking visitor stats and present them in various ways.
Some will interact with a server-side (e.g., vendor cloud-based) platform for data collection and presentation. Others will keep all the data stored on your WP server.
Many will also provide dashboards with user and session metrics directly within your WordPress installation.
So Many Choices
There are nearly 1000 plugins listed in the WordPress directory for a search on “website analytics”. That’s a lot!
And there’s no good way that I know of to sort and filter them further within the WP plugin directory.
So, my goal is to narrow it down quite a bit here… with credible options suitable for most readers.
Here are several of the top contenders that should be on your short list for consideration.
A Clear Leader in the Google Analytics Plugin Category
With over 2 million active installations and a 4.5 star overall rating from reviewers, the MonsterInsights plugin is a clear favorite for adding rich Google Analytics functionality to a WordPress website.
It’s much more than just adding Google Analytics tracking code to your website. Lots of plugins and even just WP theme options can do that for you.
On top of that basic function, MonsterInsights provides a wide array of advanced Google Analytics capabilities, both at the free and paid levels.
Here’s a quick overview video for this plugin.
MonsterInsights Video Intro
MonsterInsights Core Features
- Universal Tracking – simple setup across an entire website
- Google Analytics dashboard
- Real-time visitor stats
- Enhanced ecommerce tracking
- Page-level analytics
- Affiliate link and ads tracking
- Custom dimensions
- Google Optimize support for A/B testing
- Integrations with other popular plugins, including Yoast for SEO
I’ve used MonsterInsights on multiple websites for many years now.
It’s easy to set up, and I love the fact that it offers good Google Analytics event tracking at the free level.
Event tracking lets you monitor on-page user activity that wouldn’t normally get recorded by GA as a page-level hit.
For example… file downloads, external link clicks, affiliate link clicks, etc.
MonsterInsights Free vs. Pro Versions
The free level of MonsterInsights is very powerful, and may be all you ever need for a single website.
However, the paid levels add important functionality that many will find enticing and valuable. Each level builds upon the features in the lower level(s) and adds more. In other words, you get everything included in the lower level(s), plus the level you’re paying for.
The paid tiers for MonsterInsights are:
For small businesses and publishers who want to push their analytics to the next level for a single website.
This level adds new reporting insights, including scroll tracking (very useful!), and enhanced link tracking.
MonsterInsights Plus Pricing: $99.50 per year
For ecommerce sites and webmasters with multiple websites needing even more capabilities. Covers up to 5 sites.
The pro level adds support for lots of ecommerce needs, including GA ecommerce reporting and integration with key platforms such as WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, MemberPress, and LifterLMS.
Other features unlocked at this level include form conversion tracking, author, category, and tags tracking, GA custom dimensions, and Google Optimize support.
MonsterInsights Pro Pricing: $199.50 per year
As the name suggests, this tier is for agencies who need advanced analytics functionality for multiple client accounts.
This level adds support for up to 25 websites. Includes premium support, WordPress multisite support, and client management features.
MonsterInsights Agency Pricing: $399.50 per year
If you’re interested in using a full-featured plugin for Google Analytics support, MonsterInsights is definitely worth checking out.
As I mentioned above, I’ve been using it for years and it’s been working great all along.
The free version is enough for many websites, and the paid tiers are carefully structured and priced to appeal to their target audiences.
Visitor Analytics IO
Website Stats, Heatmaps, and More
For an alternative to Google Analytics on WordPress sites, Visitor Analytics IO is worth a look. The development team is based in Germany and Romania, so they are highly tuned in to the data privacy needs of the EU and elsewhere.
This is a multi-platform app that supports WordPress and many other popular website builders. They have a total of over 2 million installations worldwide.
- Independence from Google Analytics and the GA cloud
- Essential website visitor stats coupled with user behavior analytics
- Session recordings and heatmaps
- Funnel and conversion analysis
- Strong focus on data privacy. Completely GDPR and CCPA compliant
- Instant data processing and real-time visitor stats
- Well-organized metrics dashboard
- Simplified, intuitive interface vs. typical GA-based reports
- Free of advertising
- No data sharing with 3rd parties
- 100% data ownership (you own your data, not Google)
- Chat, polls, surveys, and other customer interaction data (in development)
- SEO tools (in development)
- Whitelabel options for digital marketing agencies
Visitor Analytics offers a limited free option (up to 1000 site visits per month), followed by four paid plans:
- Basic – up to 100,000 visits/month with 15 visitor recordings and 1 heatmap for under US $6 monthly
- Advanced – up to 250,000 visits/month with 25,000 visitor recordings and 15 heatmaps for under US $10 monthly
- Pro – up to 500,000 visits/month with 50,000 visitor recordings and 30 heatmaps for under US $20 per month
- Pro Plus – up to 750,000 visits/month with 75,000 visitor recordings and 50 heatmaps for under US $30 per month
The four paid tiers include all the core product features and full online support.
I view this tool as a credible alternative to Google Analytics. It’s very privacy focused and has a solid core feature set that includes access to session recordings and heat maps.
Pricing is reasonable for the functionality provided. The whitelabel options are attractive for agencies as well.
A Leading Option for Non-GA Fans
Matomo (formerly Piwik) is an open-source analytics platform that is focused on its customers having 100% ownership of their data, along with user privacy protections.
Matomo is used on over 1.4 million websites in over 190 countries. They have cloud-based as well an on-premises options for data storage.
Matomo Intro Video
Matomo Core Features
- Comprehensive website analytics
- User behavior tracking and conversion optimization options, including heatmaps and session recordings, A/B testing, funnels, goals, and forms
- Visitor profiles
- Enhanced SEO features (e.g., better keyword analytics)
- Matomo Tag Manager
- GDPR Manager
- Roll-up reporting
- White label options for agencies
- 100% data ownership for customers
- User privacy protections
- No data sampling (unlike Google Analytics)
- Flexible hosting options (cloud or on-premises)
- Data export and migration options
- Marketplace for free and premium add-ons
- 100+ technology integrations
Matomo offers their own comparison with Google Analytics here.
Matomo pricing varies by tier level and also by cloud vs. on-premises hosting plan selected.
Cloud hosting comes at three levels: Essential, Business, and Enterprise. Pricing here ranges from US $19 per month to $TBD (customized) at the Enterprise level.
Cloud-hosted data is stored in Frankfurt, Germany.
WordPress installations are self-hosted (on premises), so everything runs on your WordPress server.
All core features are included for WordPress installations, including WooCommerce analytics.
Premium options include:
- Search Engine Keywords Performance ($79/year)
- Funnels ($99/year)
- Users Flow ($39/year)
- Heatmap and Session Recording ($119/year)
- Paid Advertising Performance ($89/year)
- Custom Reports ($119/year)
- Forms ($89/year)
- Media Analytics ($89/year)
- Multi-Channel Conversion Attribution ($39/year)
- Cohorts ($59/year)
Optional features that are *not* available for WordPress installations include Activity Log, White Label, A/B Testing, Roll-Up Reporting, and the SAML and LDAP integrations.
For those interested in a non-GA approach to website analytics, Matomo is a full-featured top option.
With strong data privacy protections, flexible hosting options for WordPress and non-WordPress sites, and a menu of paid add-ons, Matomo will continue to be an important player in the web analytics industry.
Focused on Locally-Stored Visitor Stats
Since I mentioned a comparison with WP Statistics in the Matomo section above, here’s an overview of this plugin.
Built by VeronaLabs, WP Statistics is another strong option for website owners who want comprehensive user stats that are stored locally on their own WordPress server / installation.
The plugin currently boasts over 500k WordPress installations and an overall rating of 4.3 stars from several hundred users.
VeronaLabs has a basic YouTube channel here. They do not currently have a brief video overview of WP Statistics, though some other videos there may be helpful.
WP Statistics Core Features
Feature highlights for this plugin include:
- Visitor data records (IP and location, referring site or search engine, OS and browser)
- Country and city level recognition (based on IP)
- Page-level activity
- Search engine and referrer activity
- Visual graphs and statistics reports
- Taxonomy-based statistics, e.g., categories, tags, and authors
- Data filters
- Data export in common file formats
- Email reports
- Premium add-ons for use on single or multiple websites
WP Statistics Conclusion
WP Statistics is a highly-rated, straightforward WordPress visitor stats plugin for those who want essential website traffic metrics without the added complexity of learning Google Analytics.
With a good basic free level and a handful of low-cost premium add-ons, WP Statistics fits in nicely as a self-hosted WordPress website analytics option.
Adding More Buzz to Free Site Analytics
Available from the WordPress plugin pros at WPMU DEV, Beehive Analytics has evolved after 10 years as a paid-only analytics plugin to a free version with access to other pro plugins via the WPMU membership plan.
Beehive adds a broad range of reports directly to the WordPress dashboard, all based on your existing Google Analytics setup. Simply follow the directions to connect Beehive to your website’s GA property to get started.
Beehive works on single sites as well as multi-site installations.
By the way, WPMU DEV has a large YouTube channel, but nothing specific yet to Beehive that I could find. So… no Beehive Analytics intro video below for now at least. :-/
Here’s a quick product screenshot instead.
Beehive Analytics Core Features
Beehive specializes in adding web analytics data to WordPress via customizable dashboard reports. Main features include:
- Simplified connection to Google Analytics
- Overview metrics for specific time periods
- User and session reports
- User engagement metrics (pages/session, time on page, bounce rate, etc.)
- Visitor countries
- Traffic channels, e.g., referrers and mediums
- Search and social activity
- Top content / pages
- Trends analysis
- Google Display Advertising reports (remarketing, impressions, etc.)
- GDPR compliance and user privacy features, including IP anonymization
- User role permissions and capabilities management
- Simplified and flexible multisite support
Beehive Analytics Pricing
Beehive is free, with no requirement to add paid options.
WPMU does offer good paid plugins for other functions important to WordPress users. So you may see some promotional messages for these when using Beehive.
Beehive Analytics Conclusion
WPMU is a known and trusted WordPress development shop, so I would definitely consider Beehive as a free option for adding Google Analytics reports to WordPress dashboards.
A Visual Approach to Visitor Behavior Analytics
Hotjar aims to be “the fast and visual way to understand your users”, with a focus on heatmaps and session recordings as the primary measurement tools. They also offer several interesting user feedback tools.
Hotjar’s target market includes marketers, product managers, and UX designers.
Hotjar is multi-platform and works with many website builders and CMS platforms. WordPress users can implement it quickly using the Hotjar WordPress plugin to connect the WP site to a Hotjar customer account.
Hotjar Intro Video
Hotjar Core Features
Hotjar’s main features include:
- Heatmaps – Visualize user clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior
- Visitor Session Recordings – For on-screen visitor behavior analysis, including mouse movements, clicks, taps, etc.
- Conversion Funnels – Identify key points where content and process improvements can boost conversion rates
- Form Analysis – Boost form completion rates by understanding why visitors abandon forms and form pages
- Feedback Polls – Add targeted questions to identify opportunities for website improvements
- Incoming Feedback – Provide an easy way for site and app users to leave quick visual feedback
- User Surveys – A flexible way to collect even more user insights about preferences, objections, and concerns
- Test User Recruiting – Identify and incentivize participants for user research and testing projects
Hotjar organizes product pricing into three categories: Personal, Business, and Agency. Pricing is on a per-website basis, though a single Hotjar account can manage multiple websites.
There are discounts available for non-profits as well.
Basic – A “free forever” plan for up to 2,000 pageviews per day. Limited reports, unlimited team members, and data storage for 365 days.
Plus – $29 per month for data collection on as many as 10,000 pageviews per day. Unlimited reports and team members, data storage for a year, and a free 15-day trial period. Also includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Hotjar’s business plans are all based on how much data collection is happening, based on number of website pageviews per day.
The pricing breakpoints start at 20,000 pageviews per day and can run as high as 2,000,000 or higher pageviews per day.
Business pricing starts at $89 per month for 20K pageviews per day. It increases at logical breakpoints along the way to $989 per month for 800K pageviews per day.
Custom pricing applies to anything higher.
All Hotjar business plans include:
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Unlimited reports
- Unlimited team members
- Data storage for a year
- Removal of Hotjar branding
- Access to advanced features
- 15-day free trial
For agencies and marketing consultants working with client accounts, Hotjar offers discount volume pricing and a few other important goodies:
- Unlimited client sites within a central agency account
- Client access to visitor metrics
- Rebrandable interface for agency branding purposes (“white label” approach)
As a website user behavior analytics solution, Hotjar’s more visual emphasis stands apart from the other solutions highlighted in this post.
Many website owners use Hotjar in addition to, not instead of, other tools such as Google Analytics or its alternatives.
Some analytics tools also include some level of heatmap and session recording functionality, so those webmasters will need to see for themselves if adding Hotjar makes sense.
However, Hotjar’s other features, such as feedback polls and user survey tools, may tip the scale toward using Hotjar instead of, or in addition to, other website analytics platforms.
Google Analytics Event Tracking Plugins
Further Insights for On-Page User Actions
There are many analytics plugins for WordPress that focus on adding very specific capabilities.
Those that add what’s called “event tracking” are a good example.
Simply stated, an event is something triggered by a user while already on a web page. File downloads and clicks on external links are two common examples.
Since these clicks don’t reload the page, it takes event tracking code to record these actions in your Google Analytics or other analytics package.
One big advantage of using more and better Google Analytics events is that you can then tie any of these events to GA Goals for conversion tracking. This is absolutely great for tracking various “micro conversions” that help measure website performance, campaign results, etc.
Here are a few WordPress plugins that focus on event tracking.
WP Google Analytics Events
Developed by PineWise, this powerful event tracking plugin lets you configure a wide range of event-firing conditions.
These include user scrolling, embedded video interactions, clicks on call-to-action buttons, email links, other external links, and many other user interactions of interest.
Pro Version Available
There’s a pro version of this plugin as well. It comes via a tiered pricing plan that starts at $79/year for a single website.
The pro version adds expanded functionality for tracking video performance, tracking self-hosted video and audio files, global or selective link tracking, and access to their pro support team.
Another very interesting free plugin for event tracking, Komito Analytics handles a wide range of events, including:
- Social network interactions
- Form submissions
- Media plays (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
- Call To Action links (mailto, etc.)
- File downloads and page prints
- Outbound links
- Scroll depth
And now there’s this plugin add-on from WPL Agency that provides easy event tracking for user clicks on several common Elementor widgets, including:
- Button widget
- Icon List widget
- Image widget
- Heading widget
- Form widget submissions
This is a plugin I’m going to test for myself soon. I already use MonsterInsights for basic event tracking, but the added event types provided by Events Tracker for Elementor look really helpful.
This is a simple free plugin for tracking scroll depth and firing related GA events.
I use it on my website today, though a word of caution is in order since it hasn’t been updated recently. I hope the developers are able to keep it current and moving forward.
The Scroll Depth plugin allows firing GA events at:
- Specific page depth breakpoints (25 / 50 / 75 / 100 percent of depth)
- Pixel-based depths
- When selected CSS elements come into the field of view (admin defined)
I currently have it firing events for the percentage-based depths and for a set of custom CSS IDs I’ve defined on various posts and pages.
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WordPress Ecommerce Analytics Plugins
Enhanced Analytics for WooCommerce, Etc.
Ecommerce is another area where plugin developers have built specific analytics tools and add-ons.
For ecommerce business owners operating WordPress sites, some of these plugins may provide a lot of value. Given the popularity of WooCommerce within the WordPress community, many of these plugins focus on it as the underlying ecommerce platform.
Here are some good examples. Also see this related post on ecommerce analytics for WordPress websites.
Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin for WooCommerce
Developed by Tatvic, this plugin for WooCommerce sites is focused on simplifying the setup and use of advanced ecommerce measurement with Google Analytics.
It enables a wide range of ecommerce analytics reports, all based on your GA data. Insights include product impressions and clicks, cart activity, conversions and sales data, and more.
There’s also a pro version that adds significantly more functionality starting at about $135.
WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration
This is the official GA integration plugin straight from WooCommerce, with a handful of other individual contributors pitching in to help.
It has over 100,000 active installations, but mixed reviews (overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars).
Its main purpose is making the basic connection between WooCommerce and Google Analytics, including enhanced ecommerce event tracking.
Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics for WooCommerce
Developed by DotStore, this WooCommerce analytics plugin works with Google Analytics and also the Facebook Pixel for ad conversion tracking.
There’s a very basic free version, and of course also an upgrade to the pro version for as low as $59/year for a single website.
WooCommerce Growth Platform
Metrilo’s analytics platform for WordPress helps WooCommerce store owners measure and improve business performance with features ranging from sales and marketing analysis to customer journey tracking, engagement, and feedback channels.
Metrilo is a self-standing cloud platform that does *not* require Google Analytics as the base data collector.
They offer three plan levels, including a free 14-day trial period.
Other WordPress Analytics Plugins
Many Good Choices and Honorable Mentions
WordPress has so many decent visitor analytics plugins that it’s impossible to capture all the worthwhile options in a single blog post like this.
Aside from the ones I’ve profiled above, here are several more that are worth a closer look:
Picking the Best Visitor Analytics Plugin for WordPress
Finding and selecting the absolute best analytics plugin(s) for your WordPress website may not be easy, but at least you have lots of choices!
Perhaps “the agony of choice”… as the saying goes. 🙂
I hope this article helps to narrow down the field and point you in a good direction or two.
A good starting point may be to decide if you want to stick with Google Analytics as your main platform, or if a non-GA approach is right for your organization.
Then beyond that choice, do you also need more specific visualization features, such as heatmaps and session recordings?
How about event tracking, ecommerce, and other metrics?
And for B2B firms, there’s the potential added value of implementing website visitor tracking tools designed specifically to help companies turn website visitor data into B2B sales leads. Some of these offer WordPress plugins as well.
In any case, good luck with your selections and implementation. Please drop a comment below if you have any feedback or other thoughts to add.
Comments and Feedback
What’s your favorite website analytics plugin for WordPress?
Should I add any others to my discussion above?
Feel free to add your thoughts below!
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