As I am a Google Analytics consultant, I don't really have the need for an alternative to GA4. I've seen a few threads on twitter about it though and I thought I'd share my thoughts.
I would recommend anyone to install GA4 and Tag Manager. I do not see any advantage of not using the de facto free industry standard web analytics product. Google will have put millions of dollars in to this and are giving it away for free. No commercial competitor will be able to compete at this price point.
A Free Alternative?
Google does have at least one very deep pocketed competitor that can create a product and give it away free. Microsoft Clarity is that product.
Why is it free? Our mission at Clarity is make behaviour analytics available to everyone—from bloggers to Fortune 500 companies.https://clarity.microsoft.com/pricing
Clarity is built by Microsoft, one of the largest technology companies in the world. Microsoft processes a massive amount of anonymous data around user behaviour to gain insights and improve machine learning models that power many of our products and services. Clarity is one of the ways Microsoft gathers this important data—and why we've made it available for free.
We will never share your data with third parties.
Its actually a really good product for heat maps and screen recordings. It should kill hotjar one day. However, it can be used to get basic stats for your website.
You can get basic stats from the dashboard
There is a handy Google Analytics integration that gives you basic stats on one handy screen
If thats the information you want, I would install Microsoft Clarity and Google Analytics 4 in combination.
Most people do need more detailed tracking though. You'd want your Goals by source/ medium at a minimum but for some people, simple stats such as what Clarity gives will suffice.
Free Heat Maps
This is a quick way to see where people are clicking. There is no need to mess around creating events for key button clicks, its just all tracked there and you can easily see the most popular parts of your site.
Free Screen recordings
This is the hotjar killer. The free version of hotjar is limited to 1050 sessions a month whereas Clarity is free.
If you have Google Tag Manager installed then its about 10 clicks to install everything. You sign up with your Google account and then get Clarity to create the tags in Tag Manager. No extra work is needed.
I would stick with GA4 and learn the UI or get someone to create the reports for you. I've yet to see a report of consequence in Universal Analytics that can't be recreated in GA4.
However, if you have only the need for simple statistics and GA4 is an overkill, then Microsoft Clarity may be the right choice for you. Even if its not, the free screen recording makes it worth while installing.
Ben has a BEng (Hons) in Computer Science and 20 years of experience in online marketing, specialising in SEO, lead generation and affiliate marketing. After spending over a decade as an igaming affiliate, he has decided to concentrate on GA4 training and SEO Audits.