Many analytics tools such as Google Analytics are using cookies to identify and track users over time, even if they change other identifiers, such as the IP address, along the way. These cookies not only allow analytics software to track visitors, but also allow ad companies to customize and target ads to visitors across multiple websites.
In this article we’ll explore how cookies are used in analytics software, what are the pros and cons, and recommend alternatives for WordPress analytics software that do not require cookies.
What regulators have to say about cookies?
- According to PECR, the website owner “need to tell people about analytics cookies and gain consent for their use”. So you must explain the user what are cookies, why and how they are used in your website, and ask for their consent
- According to GDPR, if you’re using cookies, things may get more complicated, as you have to:
- Receive users’ consent before you use any cookies except strictly necessary cookies. Provide accurate and specific information about the data each cookie tracks and its purpose in plain language before consent is received.
- Document and store consent received from users.
- Allow users to access your service even if they refuse to allow the use of certain cookies
- Make it as easy for users to withdraw their consent as it was for them to give their consent in the first place.
Will analytics be reliable without cookies?
Yes, definitely. All technologies used for analytics these days have their own pros and cons.
For example, when using cookies, the analytics product can miss those tech savvy people who block cookies altogether in their browser, or the ones who often clear the cookies on their browser.
When cookies are not used, other method can be used to count visitors and track their actions. For example, the IP address of the visitor can be used (while hashing it to keep the visitor’s privacy).
Based on our tests, the error margin in cookie-less analytics is not higher than when using cookies, and it’s on average 5%-10% of the total traffic.
Do you need a cookie consent banner when using Google Analytics?
This opens the door for analytics misalignments, as when the user doesn’t provide his consent to store cookies, the analytics software should avoid keeping any of the metrics for that user, which eventually has an impact on the accuracy of your analytics results.
Which tool can I use for cookie-less WP analytics?
If you’re looking for a WordPress analytics product which is implemented without cookies, you can try out Visualime. After a quick installation, it will start tracking your WordPress metrics, such as number of visitors, top visited pages and more. Also, it will generate automatic insights (powered by AI) on how to improve your posts and increase conversions with your CTA.