Matomo Analytics is Great-After I Remove Cookies

September 07, 2020 — Jt Spratley

When I started looking into ways to improve visitor's privacy on my websites, I found 2 mysterious cookies with my browser developer tools (browser tab). When I looked them up, a WordPress GDPR plugin forum stated they were from Matomo Analytics. I confirmed the names of the cookies with Matomo's FAQ page: What are the cookies created by Matomo JavaScript Tracking client?

I didn't know much about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). But I knew removing cookies from my basic blog was easier and better than allowing visitors to opt out of tracking to gain privacy. I don't need to know who my visitors are, just how they get to my site and what pages they read the most. This also meant moving from Cloudflare which uses a cfuid__ cookie to stop bots and malicious users.

There are three FAQs I'd recommend Matomo administrators check out:

  1. How do I disable all cookies for a visitor? This is mainly for GDPR compliance. I get it. Online store owners want to track users to better understand customer journeys, wants, and needs. Right now, customers want websites owners to respect their privacy. One of the most overlooked ways to acquire more customers: take care of the ones you already have. Even if you're not required to abide by GDPR or CCPA, you should care about your visitor's privacy. You don't need cookies to track user actions. If you don't need cookies, disable them.
  2. How do I exclude / ignore my traffic or specific users from being tracked in Matomo? You likely don't want to track Matomo, website, or server administrators. If you do for some reason, maybe add some labels to easily separate it from external visitors.
  3. How do I enable third party tracking cookies, as well as the existing first party cookies? I read this just to understand 3rd party cookies with Matomo.

There are a lot of websites that use cookies but don't need them. They help identify you when you return to a website or visit a neighboring website. The year of Coronavirus (COVID-19) gave us #CancelFacebook, Cloudflare's DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) service preloaded into Firefox, and steady marketing of virtual private networks (VPNs). I'm curious to see what comes in 2021.

Tags: analytics, cybersecurity, IT, privacy, web-design