Yesterday, I wrote about tracking your website’s visits to both Google Analytics and Urchin. Today, I’ll answer a different question: can you track visits from a single website in multiple Google Analytics accounts? Certainly not as popular of a question, but still one that we’re asked from time to time.
First things first, you’ll need to understand the difference between a Google Analytics account and a Google Analytics profile.
Your GA account is tied into your Google Account, which is a single-entry login point that gives you access to most of Google’s free services (Personalized Homepage, Personalized Search, Google Groups, etc.) If you’re logging into Google Analytics, then you already have a Google account (but, contrary to popular belief, this does not necessarily mean that you have a Gmail account).
When you log into your Google Analytics account, you are presented with a list of profiles. In most situations, each profile represents data for a single website. The profile defines the types of reports available and the data presented within them. Profiles are also used to focus or restrict access to only specific sections of a website. For a nice overview of Google Analytics profiles, check out the article at the GA Help Center: What is a website profile and what can I do with it?
So, Google Analytics gives you the ability to track to multiple profiles within a single account. Why then would you ever need to send data to multiple accounts? In my experience, there’s no good reason to do this. Occasionally, though, we’ll have a client mixed up in a miscommunication with their SEM agency over AdWords/Analytics account linkage (a good reason to hire a PPC management service backed by Google Analytics Authorized Consultants) and they will need to track to two accounts temporarily. As in, not permanent. As in, you will change it and make things right as soon as possible. Most people want to send data to multiple Google Analytics accounts for all the wrong reasons:
- “I want to restrict access to my SEO/SEM company.” All well and good. Use separate profiles, though, and only give them permission to view specific reports. No need for separate accounts.
- “I want a set of reports that focuses on my subdomains.” Again, use profiles. Filters are truly amazing things.
- “I want to track multiple accounts within my AdWords My Client Center.” Ugh. Do not do this. There is a one-to-one AdWords-to-Analytics account ratio in place for a good reason. Google Analytics imports data from a linked AdWords account. Don’t link it to an MCC account, because the MCC doesn’t have any actual AdWords data. Only the child accounts do. This whole concept deserves its own blog article, really, but in the meantime, pretty pretty please, don’t try linking Analytics to an MCC.
There are others reasons, too. The main takeaway here is that most of them are invalid, and most of them can be solved much more easily (and in a cleaner, more efficient fashion) with profiles.
With warnings out of the way, if you need to track to two accounts (and please, keep it to two… don’t try this method with six different accounts), just reference the urchin.js file a single time and add a simple flag to the tracking code allowing urchinTracker to run two times: once for account A, again for account B:
_uff = 0;
_uacct = “UA-54321-4”;
The part in bold is the addition. The _uff parameter is the flag telling Google Analytics that it’s OK to run urchinTracker a second time.
This isn’t supported by Google. When writing data to multiple sources, there is always potential for bad reporting. In my experience, it works fine, but I certainly can’t guarantee 100% accurate reporting with this method.
So, you’ve got this “fix” in place? Great. Now your job is to fix the fix. Start reading up on profile management and get your data in a single account. You’d be amazed at everything you can achieve with profiles and filters.