Google Analytics - Accounts & Properties

September 11, 2015 Chris Wigley

This is the second article in a series of articles about Google Analytics. If you're new to Google Analytics, and have not yet read the first article in the series, please do so before continuing with this article.

Analytics Accounts

When you sign in to Google Analytics, you are able to access all of the accounts that you have created, or to which you have been granted access, in Google Analytics. Each Google Analytics account contains one or more properties (e.g., websites, mobile apps, etc). A Google Account allows you to name and organize these properties.

Viewing all google analytics accounts

Typically, an organization creates a single Google Analytics account, then adds one or more properties to the account, which pertain to websites and/or mobile applications owned and/or managed by the organization. In the case of an agency, the agency most likely manages multiple analytics accounts, one for each of the agency's clients, with each account containing one or more properties assigned to the various websites or mobile applications of the agency's client(s).

Account Organization

If you only have one website, the organization of your Google Analytics account is straightforward: you will have one account, and one property, for your website. If the organization wishes to manage more than one website, you will most likely have a property for each website, with all properties organized under the single Google Analytics account you created for the organization.

Bear in mind the following when dealing with Analytics accounts:

  • Each account can have at most 50 properties
  • Each property can have at most 25 views
  • You can grant users view permissions on:
    • An Analytics account
    • A property under an analytics account
    • A view under a property
  • You cannot migrate historical data from one account to another.

Properties

A Property is a website, mobile application or some stand-alone device (e.g., kiosk). Each Google Analytics account can contain one or more properties.

For each analytics account, you add one or more properties for which you wish to collect analytics data. Whenever you add a property, Google Analytics automatically generates a unique ID, called a Tracking Code, which is used to collect data for said property. The tracking code makes the data for the property easily identifiable within Google Analytics. Additionally, when a property is created, Google Analytics automatically creates one unfiltered view for that property.

an account with multiple properties

The property ID, or tracking code, is comprised of two parts:

  • The account number
  • A property identifier for the account number

An example of a property ID is UA-10876-01, where 10876 is the account ID and 01 is the identifier for the specific property for the account. Each successive property that is created will have a property identifier portion, which is incremented by 1. Therefore, an account with three properties might have the property IDs UA-10876-01, UA-10876-02 and UA-10876-03.

Example
A company has 3 websites:

  • www.companysite.com
  • blog.companysite.com
  • www.othercomanysite.com

Each of these websites is a distinct website. The company wishes to track analytics separately for each site. Therefore, the company creates three properties under the company's analytics account, each property pertaining to one of the three websites. For each property, the company creates several views. This organizational structure would look something like this:

example google accounts organization

Views

The views for an analytics account are the way in which you access the dashboards and reports for a given property. A view determines which data from your property appears in your reports. You can create more than one view for a given property, allowing you to use settings and view filters to create distinct reporting views for your property. With views, you can include or exclude data for the reports of your property.

Creating Views
When you create a property, Google Analytics automatically creates a view for the property. Currently, this view is titled "All Web Site Data", a raw view of the data collected for the property. In other words, this view does not contain any filters that would include or exclude any data based on some criteria. You can change the name of this view if you wish, but it is important that you always maintain a raw, unfiltered view of the data for each of your properties.

Use a Master View
When you set up a property, it is best practice to make the first view of the property an unfiltered, raw view of the data. When you first create a property, Google Analytics automatically creates an unfiltered view of the raw data for the profile, called "All Web Site Data." As long as you do not alter the settings for this view, it will always contain all historical tracking data for the property since tracking began.

If you do not create (or if you delete the "All Web Site Data" view) but instead only have views which exclude data by way of include or exclude filters, you will not have any data for the parts of the data that were excluded by the filters. For example, if you are interested in traffic from US visitors and you set up only one view which includes only traffic from US site visitors, then you will never be able to see the traffic from visitors outside of the US.

If you want to have various filtered views of the data (and you should), it is recommended that you consider two view types: one view that is a raw, unfiltered view of your property data and any other filtered views that includes or excludes data suited to a particular objective.

Historical Data
After you create a view, data tracking begins as soon as the Google Analytics tracking code is installed on the website and a user loads a web page on your site. When you add a new view for your property, the new view will only contain data beginning the date on which the view was added. The newly created view will not contain any historical data which existed before the view was created and data was tracked.

For example, you create an unfiltered, raw "master" view in July 2015, which collects all traffic for the website configured for a property. On September 5th, 2015, you create an additional view, titled "Non-US Traffic," to track only traffic from site visits originating outside the US. When you access the reports for the "Non-US Traffic" view, you will not see any data prior to September 5th, 2015. Although the data will exist in the unfiltered "master" view, the data is not copied over to the "Non-US Traffic" view.

Filtered Views
It is often useful to have different views of your data for a single property. Each view can have one or more filters, which include(s) or exclude(s) a subset of the property data. You can also use filtered views to ensure that website content is tracked only for a specific domain, to exclude internal traffic from reports or to replace unintelligible page URLs with a more easily digestible format. You can also use filtered views to grant access to certain users so that these users can only view a certain portion of your reporting data.

If you delete a view, you are not deleting the underlying data for the view. You are simply deleting that particular view of the data. Currently, if you delete a view, you are not able to recover the view. Therefore, before you delete a view, think carefully about whether you will ever need to access the particular view of the data before deleting it.

Summary

In this article, we've covered the basics of account organization, account properties and property views. Keep an eye out for future articles in this series, wherein we will discuss creating filtered views, viewing the reports in the various sections of Google Analytics and more.

You can read the first part of this series here: Google Analytics - Getting Started.

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Chris Wigley Solutions Architect

At the time of publishing, Chris was a Solutions Architect at One North.

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