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How to install Matomo on Joomla!

| Gianluca Gabella | Guide e Documentazione
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Google Analytics is not the only traffic analysis tool available in the world (although it is obviously the most widely used). Matomo is an excellent alternative, with pros and cons. Let's take a step-by-step look at how to install and configure it on a Joomla!

Why abandon Google Analytics?

The discourse is quite long and complicated, but can be summed up simply with 'I don't want to share my traffic information with anyone, especially Google, so I use an opensource system installed on my server and the data is mine alone'.

Google Analytics is a great user tracking system. It has been on top for years and is the undisputed market leader: it allows you to segment users very well, you can hook it up to other Google services such as Search Console or Tag Manager, and it is completely free.

Why then change?

Because, especially when Google and your or your users' data are involved, nothing is really free. Your data are in Google's hands and, although heavily regulated and protected, they are not just yours. Google also keeps your data on servers outside the European Union and this has led to issues with GDPR, which is the new European data processing regulation.

For more information on Analytics issues concerning privacy and GDPR, I point you to these interesting links (in italian):

OK let's find an alternative: why Matomo?

There are dozens of alternatives to Analytics, some free, some paid. Some totally cloud-based (like Analytics) others to be installed on your dedicated server.

Here you can find a couple of lists (not complete of course) with the most reputable competitors:

Of all the various alternatives proposed, the most 'user friendly' is Matomo: it is free, open source, easy to install and does not require advanced knowledge of hosting or dedicated server management.

All you need to install it is:

  • A web space with apache/php (but if you have a Joomla, or Wordpress, or Prestashop website, you already have the space)
  • A MySql database where you can store all your data (but again, if you use a CMS, you already have a database)

A complete list of Matomo's minimum requirements can be found here:

https://matomo.org/docs/requirements/

How to install Matomo on shared hosting

Most websites are hosted on a shared hosting, i.e. a virtual server where your data is stored. This means that you do not have direct access to the files of the linux operating system that runs the site, the only thing you can do is connect to the web space via FTP. But this is enough for us.

1. Download the latest available version of Matomo

You can download Matomo directly from this link: https://builds.matomo.org/matomo.zip

A ZIP file will be downloaded, which can be unpacked with a programme such as WinZip or WinRAR for Windows or Unzip or iZip for iOS. If you don't want to unpack and upload hundreds of files individually, you can do everything online by following this guide.

Once you have extracted the contents you will have a folder called matomo and an html file called How to install Matomo.html which leads to an installation guide in English.

Inside the matomo subfolder you should find a list of folders and files:

install2

2. take the entire matomo folder and upload it to our server

Now open an FTP file transfer programme such as FileZilla and upload the matomo folder (the one containing the files and folders in the screenshot above) to the root of our site (usually inside the public_html folder).

I decided to upload it in a folder called analytics for convenience. But you can call it whatever you like.

If you have installed a Joomla! site, the folder structure should then look as follows:

ftp

where inside the analytics folder are all the folders and files of the first screenshot.

3. proceed with the actual installation

Once the files have been uploaded, open a browser (Firefox, Chrome, Edge, whichever you prefer) and open the analytics folder on your site. For example www.yoursite.it/analytics/

If instead of analytics you used another name when you uploaded those files, obviously change the URL accordingly.

The page you will be presented with will be as follows:

prima schermata installazione

At the top left, it will be possible to change the display language, but everything should already be in Italian by default.

Proceed by clicking on the green "NEXT" button.

The following page may take a few seconds to load: Matomo is checking your server to see if you are able to install and run the software.

If everything went well, you should find yourself on a page with a long list of green ticks.

If everything is OK, click the green "NEXT" button again.

4. Selecting a database

On this page you need to select a database where to install the Matomo tables.

My advice is to use a clean database: for safety's sake it would be better to avoid installing everything in the database already populated with Joomla data.

However, it is not compulsory: if you only have one db at your disposal, that's fine, because thanks to the dedicated prefix (matomo_) the various tables should not step on each other's toes.

The data of your database can be found in your hosting control panel.

Enter the data of the new db:

installazione database

and click 'NEXT' again.

If everything was successful, a message will appear saying "Tables created successfully!". Click again on the green 'NEXT' button.

5. create administrator credentials

Of course, only we must be able to access and check our statistics. To do this, we must lock the system behind password-protected access. We then create a new user and password and associate an email address with it.

amministratore matomo

Once you have entered your new credentials (create a strong username and password, mind you!) click on the 'NEXT' button again.

6. Configure the website to be monitored

We now come to the interesting part. We have to tell Matomo which website we have to monitor. Fill the required fields:

configura sito web

Choose whether our site is e-commerce or not and click 'NEXT'.

Please note: Matomo can also be installed on a different hosting than the one where our site is located. In the same Matomo installation you can install as many websites as you want. This guide is made for those with 'basic' hosting and no other resources, but the possibilities are endless!

7. Installing the Matomo tracking code

Almost there! Now that Matomo is configured we need to link our site to the Matomo installation we have completed. To do this, simply enter the tracking code provided in the site header:

codice tracking

There are several possibilities for installing the tracking code. It depends very much on the Joomla version and the template used.

Many templates, such as Yootheme, allow you to install code directly from the configuration options of the template itself. In other cases you need to use external plugins. Let us look at some cases:

If you use a template from Yootheme:

Open Yootheme from the control panel. Click on 'settings' from the left-hand menu:impostazione yootheme
Click on 'custom code' and in the first block 'SCRIPT' paste Matomo's code WITHOUT OPENING AND CLOSING SCRIPT TAGS:
codice personalizzato

If you do not use a Yootheme template and cannot insert custom code:

Matomo provides plugins for all platforms, including for Joomla!

The plugin for Joomla! can be downloaded from here: https://extensions.joomla.org/extension/itcs-matomo/ and is available for both Joomla3 and Joomla4.

The direct download link is here: https://it-conserv.de/joomla/downloads/2-plugins/11-matomo-plugin-for-joomla-4.html and here you can find both the J3 and J4 version:

matomo joomla plugin

Download the version you need (in my case I used the one for Joomla4) and install it on your Joomla as a normal extension:

matomo plugin

Once installed, go to the plugin section of your site (left menu -> System -> Manage -> Plugins) and search for 'matomo' in the search box.

A single plugin called "System - itcs Matomo" will come up, click on the title to enter.

Inside there will be a text box called "Tracking Code" where you simply paste in the tracking code Matomo gave you during installation.

Enable the plugin and save.

That's it! Your site is now connected to your Matomo.

To complete the process, simply go back to the browser page where you were installing Matomo, click on the green "NEXT" button and finish the actual installation.

You will then be taken to the login page:

matomo login

Enter the credentials we created in the previous steps and click on "LOGIN".

If the monitoring code has been installed correctly, we have finally entered the Matomo control panel! Happy browsing and happy monitoring!


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