Disclosure: We receive compensation from some of the companies whose services we mention below. If you click through on the links from this article, we may receive compensation at no additional cost to you.
If you’re building and running a PBN, then you don’t want to risk a footprint of using Google Analytics or an alternative to connect all of your sites together.
Luckily, there are some other great Google Analytics alternatives on the market which you can use for your PBN or Money sites. Today we’ll cover two of our favorite options.
How Google Analytics Can Link Your Sites Together
With Google Analytics, each site that you track has a “Property ID” that is part of the tracking code. This is in the format UA-xxxxxxxxxxx-yy where the xxx section represents the unique Google Analytics account, and the yy section represents the site within that account.
This can make it easy for any internet user with enough time and interest in doing so to find connections between your sites, using tools like SpyOnWeb.com to find other sites that are in the same analytics account.
In addition, for the “tin foil hat” SEOs, it’s possible that a Google employee could look for the IP history used to login to your Google Analytics account and cross-reference that with other logins from the same IP.
Google Analytics Alternatives
Luckily, there are a number of great alternatives to Google Analytics that you can use on your sites.
The added bonus is that most of these tools are a lot more user friendly and easier to get data out of than Google Analytics. With both of the tools that I’ve mentioned, it’s easy to set Goals for any action, such as a visitor clicking your affiliate link. This makes it easy to understand your site’s conversion rate.
Here’s two of my favorite tools:
Clicky has been around since 2006 and has been mentioned by many top affiliate SEOs as their choice of analytics or tracking software. It has some great features and a much simpler layout than Google Analytics. You can also quickly and easily setup Goal tracking – for example, to track how many visitors to your site click through to your affiliate offer.
Each site that you add on Clicky has a unique numerical tracking ID, but they are issued in a sequential manner so you should leave some time between adding multiple sites to your account.
Clicky is a freemium service, but you can only track a single site in their free plan. Upgrading to their paid plans, you need to select both the number of sites that you’d like to track and the daily pageviews limit. For 100 sites, with 100,000 daily page views (the lowest number you can choose after exceeding 30 sites on their Pro Platinum plan), it’s $37.99 per month or $299.99 per year. This is probably slightly too expensive for most PBN sites, but is a great option for your money sites.
Fathom is much newer than Clicky, launching in September 2018. It’s a profitable, bootstrapped company and the pricing structure is much more suitable for tracking all of your PBNs, if you wanted to do that.
Plans start at $14 per month ($140/yr) for 100,000 page views per month across unlimited sites. $24 per month ($240/yr) lets you track up to 200k page views on unlimited sites and $34/m ($340/yr) gets you up to 400k page views on unlimited sites.
By not limiting the number of sites that you can track, you can see that Fathom is a much more suitable option if you wanted to put analytics on all of your PBNs. Their solution is also GDPR friendly and cookie free which means no more annoying Cookie notices, and has a very simple dashboard for you to view all of the stats. You can also set an unlimited number of custom domains for their tracking code, so that you can bypass any tracking blockers that might filter based on domain names.
You can also set Goals for actions like affiliate clicks or signups if that interests you, and the tracking code for each site is a completely random string of letters which means no sequential IDs and no way to link all of your sites together.
My Recommended Choice: Fathom Analytics
Here’s three reasons why I recommend Fathom Analytics:
- No need to display a cookie notice – Fathom doesn’t set any Cookies, so you can track visitors without needing to wait for them to agree to cookies.
- Custom tracking domains – Many browsers are blocking common tracking domains for analytics services. Using a custom domain means your tracking code is more likely to load.
- Unlimited sites – Unlike Clicky, you can add Fathom Analytics to all of your sites without paying extra per site. This makes it perfect for tracking visits to all of your PBNs.
A Quick Warning on Open Source, Self-Hosted Analytics Options
There are other self hosted options, like Matomo (formerly Piwik) or Open Web Analytics available which would allow you to track an unlimited number of sites. However, there’s a risk of creating a code footprint in your sites if you host the analytics for all of your sites on a central server that you control. The workaround would be to use the Matomo Tracker Proxy, which reroutes the request through the server that the site is hosted on and proxies the connection to the actual Matomo tracking server. There’s also the level of technical expertise required to implement and manage one of those systems.
One alternative to that is to use Friendly Analytics, a hosted version of Matomo. Their plans would only be suitable for a money site based on the limited number of sites they include in their plans.
It’s also a lot of hassle to set up a separate install of Matomo or Open Web Analytics on each of your PBN domains, and you’d need to log into a separate dashboard for each site – so just skip that and stick with one of the options suggested above.