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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as well as the ePrivacy Regulation are stirring things up in the WordPress community. The numerous plugins which are developed specifically for WordPress and also WordPress itself are not yet prepared for this step. Most WordPress website owners are dealing with great uncertainty. What exactly has to be done? Is my website concerned, too?
As a blogger, author and online marketing specialist I am supporting many enterprises in establishing a system for sustainable long-term online customer acquisition. I regularly publish thoughts and ideas around the issues WordPress, online marketing and technology.
One of the most frequent problems which I encounter during my work is embedding Google Analytics. The tracking tool by Internet giant Google is market leader and, as a natural consequence, installed on many WordPress websites. But the fact that transmitting analysis data to Google also implies personal data rises some serious problems if user’s consent was not sought prior to using Google Analytics.
If I have understood the requirements of the upcoming data protection policy changes correctly, you need to walk through the following steps before being allowed to use Google Analytics:
- Sign a data processing agreement with Google. (Update: This has been changed to accepting a so-called Data Processing Amendment.)
- Ask for user’s consent to the tracking as soon as they visit the website.
- In case of agreement load a tracking code with activated IP anonymization, in case of objection do not load the tracking code.
- Add a notification in your data policy statement.
- Provide an opt-out possibility for tracking.
Google itself only offers a tedious solution and many WordPress users are left completely clueless.
So what to do? Give up on analysis data entirely? For most people not a viable option because they do make up an important factor for business decisions.
Plugins such as Borlabs-Cookie make it possible to embed tracking codes like the one from Google Analytics in the above described operation. But is infinite capturing of visitor data really the right solution to go for?
May I introduce: Statify – WordPress Analytics without tracking cookies
Personally, I felt it was all way too much trouble and frankly, I did not want to greet my website visitors with a huge banner saying ‘Hello, I’m using Google Analytics to find out what you are up to on my website. One agreement coming up, please, thank you!’. Besides, in almost all cases I only checked the statistics of the most frequented websites at Google Analytics. I do not need a tool to tell me that most of my website visitors consist of smartphone users.
After doing some research, I finally found a plugin which presented an easy and elegant solution. Sergej Mueller offers with his plugin Statify exactly what I’ve been looking for to untangle this jungle of uncertainties.
After installing the plugin, you will find another widget in your WordPress dashboard displaying three kinds of information from now on:
- Traffic sources
- Top list of entries and sites
- Charts of the last x days
For me, this is completely sufficient because I only need to know which sites have been clicked most often.
Those who are interested can specify even more settings. There are options to limit the period of data storage, to restrict the leaderboard ‘Top Sites’ to the current day only or to adjust the numbers of shown entries in the top list. And usually, this is all you ever need.
In my opinion, Statify does a good job for all of you who simply want to know at what point of time which article or which site of your website worked especially well.
But what about data privacy protection?
Good question! Since Statify obviously does reveal data, you should indeed consider where the data origin comes from and whether personal data are part of the collection.
The plugin site in the WordPress Plugin Repository gives a detailed explanation about the method how Statify collects data.
There you can read that Statify not only keeps the display of data minimalistic but also remains faithful to data minimization when it comes to the gathering and storage of data.
‘In direct comparison to statistics services such as Google Analytics, WordPress.com Stats and Matomo (Piwik) Statify doesn’t process and store personal data as e.g. IP addresses – Statify counts site views, not visitors. Absolute privacy compliance coupled with transparent procedures: A locally in WordPress created database table consists of only four fields (ID, date, source, target) and can be viewed at any time, cleaned up and cleared by the administrator.’
Perfect! No stress concerning data privacy while keeping the opportunity to monitor the popularity of different sites.
Statify Bonus Plugins
On top of it, there are two more plugins which could come in handy in combination with Statify.
First, there is the plugin Statify Widget by Finn Dohrn which allows to deposit a widget in the WordPress Sidebar which displays the most popular articles according to the data collected by Statify. Second, there is the plugin Statify Blacklist which adds a filter extension to Statify.
This is particularly useful for people who are dealing with, for instance, large amounts of spam requests and thus cannot achieve precise statistics without this plugin. Statify Blacklist allows us to filter specific IP addresses, domains and websites from the final Statify results.
In my opinion, Statify presents a pretty good alternative to Google Analytics or Matomo (Piwik) for most WordPress users. Besides, I have the impression that only a small part of users is actually able to understand and interpret the statistics derived from Google Analytics. Of course, Statify is not a full replacement but still a possible solution. It particularly suits rather unexperienced website owners who are often already satisfied with simple visitor statistics.
In cooperation with the two other plugins Statify Widget and Statify Blacklist, I believe Statify is a great project which should be spread to many more WordPress users.
Of course, the low-data mode of operation favours its usage in the European Union.
I strongly invite you to simply try it out and install Statify on your WordPress website. Maybe you will do pretty good with a minimalistic visitor statistic in your WordPress dashboard instead of a lengthy Google analysis after all.