Matomo Analytics is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics in a world where privacy now matters. It has more than 1.4 million websites in over 190 countries. In addition to being open-source, it is extendable and can be customized. And just like Google Analytics, it helps marketers get a good understanding of the website performance and customer behavior.
Matomo’s background story
Matomo was developed by Matthieu Aubry along with some of his friends in late 2007. It was known as Piwik and offered full API support, a cleaner UI, modern graphics, better architecture, and better performance. Here’s a timeline of the key milestones of Piwik’s evolution into Matomo.
- 2008 – Piwik released as a hosted application for developers
- 2009 – Piwik selected as SourceForge’s Project of the Month by InfoWorld’s Bossie Awards
- 2012 – Piwik started a crowdfunding campaign to develop new features
- 2013 – Matthieu Aubry and Maciej Zawadziński, CEO of Clearcode, launched Piwik PRO to support the development of the open-source version of Piwik
- 2018 – Piwik officially rebranded as Matomo
- 2019 – A WordPress plugin called Matomo Analytics for WordPress was released. It also includes two other products: Matomo On-Premise and Matomo Cloud
Matomo Analytics plugin allows WordPress users to host Matomo directly in their WordPress. I’ll explain this feature here later.
Matomo Analytics overview: what it does, unique features, and who is it for
If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, Matomo will look very familiar. After installation, you can reach Matomo’s main reporting screen via WordPress’ admin navigation to access the following views:
- Dashboard – you can get an overview of the key metrics and more informational widgets
- Visitors – tracks visits over time, their locations, device info, and user IDs (if set up)
- Behavior – focuses on pages, links, downloads, and reporting on performance
- Acquisition – understand how visitors found your site (which channel they’re coming from)
- Ecommerce – tracks products and sales
- Goals – set and track them
Below is the Dashboard view that is customized to display relevant widgets.
You can also create segments, change the format of some of the reports such as charts, and export data sets.
As mentioned, the UI is similar to Google Analytics. If you compare features and reports, Matomo will fall behind. But the main website KPIs are all available here. The interface is easier to navigate and clear. And it’s just available within your WordPress install. You don’t have to sign up for a Google account to access it.
Matomo Analytics Tag Manager
Just like Google’s version, Tag Manager is a little hard to implement. For those who are unfamiliar with the former, it’s a tool that allows you to centrally manage scripts. Say you’re running Hotjar, ActiveCampaign, and ZenDesk scripts; rather than installing them individually, you can manage them all from the Tag Manager UI. It also gives you more control over the scripts. For instance, you can set a rule so that your helpdesk chat window doesn’t appear on a contact page. More advanced users are able to leverage variables and data layers, just like with Google Tag Manager.
Please note: Tag Manager does not work in a WordPress multi-site setup.
Google has brought a new ranking factor in their algorithm named Core Web Vitals, which emphasizes on load speed. With Matomo, you will be able to optimize your pages to rank better according to the Core Web Vitals ranking factor.
Extending Matomo Analytics
Matomo may be a ‘lite’ version of Google Analytics but its paid add-ons gives it superpowers. There are quite a few of them available in the marketplace. Here are some of the more popular ones;
Finally, it has some cheap paid add-ons designed for WordPress such as:
- Heatmaps & Session Recordings – helps analyze your user behavior in more depth.
- Form Analytics – track form conversion rates, time to completion, drop-off fields, and more.
- Media Analytics – track how visitors interact with audio or video media players. It includes embeds from YouTube and other sources
- Custom Reports – create your own custom dimensions and reports.
- Search Engine Keywords Performance – view the visitor’s actual search keywords.
- Funnels & Cohorts & Users Flow – helps you better dig into the user behavior across visits and time scales.
- Multi-Channel Conversion Attribution – understand how each marketing channel contributes to conversions.
- Cohorts – lets your visitors engage and come back for more.
- Users Flow – shows the most popular path which lets you understand your users’ needs