If you have a website and use analytics, this article will help you compare Fathom and Google Analytics.
Learn about the problems with Google Analytics, what Fathom is, how they compare and how to get a discount for Fathom.
What is Website Analytics?
Website Analytics is collecting, analysing and reporting on visitor actions on a website.
This data can be used for a wide variety of purposes, such as optimising pages for best conversion, research to help determine products to sell, identifying popular content, deciding what languages to offer a website in and more.
The most popular website analytics platform is Google Analytics, with over 87% of websites worldwide using it. Google Analytics is a comprehensive platform and free to use.
What’s Wrong with Google Analytics?
Concerns around the privacy of Google Analytics data have existed for a while and this came to a head with a ruling in 2021 by the Austrian Data Protection Authority (DPA). The Austrian DPA ruled that websites that use Google Analytics are violating General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In 2022, France, the Netherlands and Italy made similar rulings.
The underlying reason for this decision is that Google Analytics stores analytics data for EU individuals on US servers and intelligence agencies can view this. This is a serious problem and as further EU countries are expected to follow suit, it will affect the many websites that use Google Analytics.
Finally, as Google Analytics has grown, so has its complexity and many business owners and casual users find the Google Analytics interface overwhelming.
What is Fathom?
Fathom is an alternative to Google Analytics, that is respectful of privacy laws and easy to use. It was started in 2016 and has been growing in popularity since and is used by many companies, including large companies such as IBM and GitHub.
Fathom vs Google Analytics
The company behind Fathom are privacy first. Fathom is GDPR, CCPA, ePrivacy, PECR compliant and helps to achieve this by anonymising all data and removing the IP address. Google Analytics is not fully compliant.
Unlike Google Analytics, Fathom does not use any cookies. For many simpler websites (such a ‘brochure’ style websites) as no other cookies are used this means there is no need for a cookie popup. This is a great win for the user experience.
Fathom has been developed to be very fast. The ‘script’ which powers it is very small and the loading time is quicker than Google Analytics. This means the webpages load faster and as page loading speed is one factor for search engine optimisation (SEO), your site may even rank higher with Fathom.
Our own website now uses Fathom – we speed did tests before (with Google Analytics) and after (with Fathom) and our Google PageSpeed Insights score increased with Fathom.
With Google Analytics, some ad-blockers block it and mean you don’t see all visitor data. Fathom bypasses ad-blockers so you get true data. In addition, Google Analytics can sometimes report some ‘bot’ traffic – Fathom claims to automatically block this. In our use so far (on several websites) the data quality with Fathom does indeed seem good.
Ease of use
Due to the privacy first approach, Fathom does offer less functionality than Google Analytics. However this has a benefit in that it much easier to user. You have one simple dashboard, where you can easily drilldown and filter data. It’s quicker to find key data.
Data / dashboard sharing
Google Analytics has comprehensive controls and settings to allow you to invite additional users to your account and assign them roles etc. to limit what they can/can’t do. Fathom does not yet offer this – you are however able to share your dashboard privately (through use of a password) or public URL if you wish.
Goals / Events
Google Analytics has well established funnels and event tracking. Fathom doesn’t yet have funnels, but it does support event tracking. This can be used to track things such as button click and form submissions.
API / Integrations
A benefit of Google Analytics is that has 1000s of integrations. Everything from e-commerce platforms through to search engine monitoring and reporting tools. Fathom has a lot less, although (like Google Analytics) it does have an Application Programming Interface (API). The API includes methods to allow events to be added, as well as to return data so you can create custom reports.
It’s a relatively small thing, but Fathom includes free uptime monitoring for each website. This means you could potentially save time and money as no need to utilise a separate uptime monitoring system. Google Analytics doesn’t offer this.
Google Analytics is completely free. Fathom analytics does charge. However the charge is reasonable, especially if you’re an agency or company with either several websites or larger websites. The pricing is based on page views and the cheapest plan is $14 / month ($140 / year) for up to 100,000 page views across up to 50 websites.
We’ve found support for Google Analytics to be variable. However for Fathom the support is claimed to be good and we have indeed experienced this. We asked a few questions via email and had useful answers back in less than 24 hours, sometimes even as fast as 2 hours.
For many websites Fathom is a good alternative to Google Analytics. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. However some websites that utilise specific 3rd party integrations or advanced features will be best placed to stay with Google Analytics. For many others a switch to Fathom will be a positive move. For larger sites or companies, the cost is reasonable. For smaller sites, if Fathom is offered via a care plan or similar (as we do) it is also not a problem.