TL; DR: My blog no longer has Google Analytics. And I’m happy about it.
Why I had it?
I’ve been using Google Analytics for many years now - ever since I moved to a static blog, from WordPress. WordPress had built-in analytics, and it seemed natural to me to have analytics on the static site too, after using WP for a couple of years or so.
I checked the analytics only once in a while, But, I did find it encouraging and sometimes amusing to see where and how people ended up on my blog. Especially so, when a post became popular.
Why I removed it?
A few months ago, around the time when we were all bombarded by GDPR related policy change announcements from random services we signed up to and forgot about, I decided to remove Google Analytics on my blog.
I also received an email from Google Analytics, listing a bunch of changes I’d need to make to how I use anlaytics, to be GDPR compliant. That made me reconsider if it was worth having analytics on my site.
I use Ghostery and other such tools to minimize how much people are able to track me. It feels better to not have the same kind of analytics that I’m averse to, on my blog.
Also, about half the people who read my blog likely don’t like analytics, and are probably blocking it. Considering how little I used the analytics, I just didn’t see a point in keeping it running.
But what about the useful stats?
My blog doesn’t get too many visits – only a few dozen people every week – mostly my friends or acquaintances. There’s not as much going on, to find anything super interesting in the stats.
Nevertheless, it is sometimes interesting to see where people end-up coming to my blog from. And on one occasion, I found a broken link to a blog post of mine which was sending a significant number of people to my blog. I fixed that, and also added a 404 page with helpful suggestions.
I have the proxy of interactions on twitter or texts/emails from friends, to gauge how interesting a post was. But, it’s useful to have some kind of analytics to gauge the interest and reading patterns of older posts.
Given this, and the fact that I’ve recently been intrigued by Rust and want to learn it, I’ve started writing a small Apache log analyzer in Rust. It’s just a toy, as of now. goaccess is a nice “real-time” log analyzer that gives some useful stats.
Thanks Shantanu Choudhary for prompting me to write this post, reading a draft of this, and giving helpful suggestions to make it better.