12 February 2018

Preparing for GOOGLE ANALYTICS: The A-B-C Of Understanding Data for Your Business Success

Lesson #37–preparing for GOOGLE ANALYTICS

We continue our revised course with Internet Income Lesson 37. Each new lesson of this course contains updated tips, real-world advice, and in-depth, step-by-step instructions on setting up your Internet-based business. Author George Little continues to use plain English to explain the ins and outs of starting and running a profitable online business in today’s ever-changing global market. Read the previous lesson 36 here.

In our last lesson, we discussed some of the confusion around Google Analytics as well as the advantages of using Google Analytics. In this lesson, we will discuss planning your organizational structure for Analytics. This planning will prevent confusion and facilitate convenient use of your Analytics data. You will then be prepared to set up and configure Google Analytics.


The first step to get started with Google Analytics is, of course, to have a Google account. If you have a Gmail address (whether you use it as your regular email or not), then you already have a Google account.

Even if you do already have a Google account, you need to ask yourself, "is it the right account to manage my website analytics?" The answer depends upon how many Internet Marketing projects you have had in the past, how many you currently maintain, and how many you plan to have in the future. As Google now supports two different types of accounts (owner and brand accounts), lets you link different accounts together, and allows multiple people to share ownership or manage accounts, it is important to organize your Google account setup before starting with Analytics. Google prefers (and, in most cases, it is your best solution) to have one main personal Google account and then a Google brand account for each of your websites or projects.

With this approach, you create a new Google brand account (under your personal account) for each domain you create. Google did not make it easy to manage multiple accounts in the past, but now allows for convenient management of brand accounts. While Google did not make it easy to sign in and out of different accounts in the past, it now allows that to be done easily by linking accounts and switching between them. You can also now give another account access to things within an existing account (by making the other account a "user" for this account). These features make it easier to manage multiple accounts for multiple domains, especially if you create them as brand accounts. With brand accounts, you can have a separate name and profile, as well as a separate YouTube and Gmail account, for each domain name that you own or manage.

Another option is to create a separate Google brand account for a grouping of websites and/or apps that are related to a specific project, goal, or campaign. In this manner you can have multiple websites (domains) and they will be tied together within one brand account when they are all working toward the same goal (for example, when they are all separate landing pages, but leading to the same conversion page).

If you do not already have a Google account, you can easily create one just by navigating to almost any Google page. Just go to google.com or accounts.google.com and sign up. In most cases, you will create this as a personal account using your own name and information. Allocate some time for this endeavor as Google will run you through a series of prompts to set up security for your account and to set up other Google features for the account (such as a Google Profile and Google Plus). You can set up this profile and additional features now or you can postpone it until another time. Or, if you do not plan to have much activity on your personal account and plan to use brand accounts for your interactions and promotions, you may not want to bother with much detail for the profile. Instead, you would carefully set up the profiles of your brand pages as they are created. (You still time to carefully set up security for your account however.)

Even if you do already have a Google account, but have created a new domain that will have its own website, you can create a Google brand account for this new domain, linked to your existing personal Google account. You will then activate an Analytics account while signed up under the new brand account, but be able to easily switch to it from your main (owner) account.

As stated in the previous lesson, confusion mostly comes from the history of Google evolution. For example, at the time I created most of my YouTube accounts, YouTube had not yet been acquired by Google. Google didn't acquire YouTube until late in 2006. Prior to then, my YouTube accounts were entirely separate accounts on an entirely separate service. Brand accounts weren't fully implemented until 2014. Prior to then, you had to create multiple Google personal accounts if you wanted separate accounts for your separate businesses or campaigns. Google was quite awkward (for reasons explained in the last lesson) in integrating these old accounts. Now, thankfully, Google allows you most of the flexibility needed to sort your old legacy accounts and all the flexibility needed to create a new organizational structure for your new accounts.

Avoiding Confusion Within Analytics

The more flexibility built into a system, the more confusing the system can become to use. Google, historically designing its services for sophisticated users and professionals, has built tremendous flexibility into its services, especially its Analytics system, thereby fostering some confusion if one does not sort things out ahead of time. The flexibility provided is needed by professional web developers who plan, design, and maintain websites and manage SEO for multiple clients. The flexibility is also helpful for individual Internet Marketing entrepreneurs who maintain multiple sites and multiple campaigns. But, for the average single website owner, the flexibility only adds confusion.

Here are a few pointers to help you sort out the confusion before you get started with Analytics.

Understanding Levels

A key to avoiding confusion in Google Analytics is to understand that Google coders think in terms of "levels." They also think in terms of "spaces" or "context." The instructions for carrying out a specific task depend upon how you set the levels, which level you are on, and the context within which you are performing the task. You need to be aware of where you are in the system and what you are doing to understand the instructions in the proper context. Just like in the English language, you must understand the context in which a word is used to understand the intended meaning in a specific instance.

For, example, I have referred thus far in this article to the different "features" that Google makes available to users (such as Gmail, Google Plus, YouTube, etc.) The correct word for these "features" and the word most often used by Google for these things is "properties." Gmail is a Google property providing email services. Google Docs is a Google property providing word processing services. Google Plus is a Google property made available for social media. However, I have avoided using the word "properties" in this article thus far to avoid confusion with "properties" as that term is used within Google Analytics. Within Analytics, a "property" is a category for tracking results for a specific thing – usually a single website or app or combination thereof - a different meaning for a different level.

Note that a Google Account is an identify with which you sign up for access to all the Google's services (a/k/a "properties") that you need. However, for many of the services offered by Google, you are required to activate the service. When you activate a particular service, you do not create a new top-level login. Instead, you use the identity of your preexisting Google account (or one of them if you have multiple accounts). You must associate a top-level Google account, be it an owner account or brand account, with each new service activation. Activating a new service such as Analytics is often referred to as "creating an account" for that service, as in "creating a Google Analytics account." Don't let that confuse you, however. You should have already created a Google account. What you are doing in effect is activating Google Analytics for an account.

Accounts vs. Properties vs. Views

In other words, there is a difference between creating a Google account and "creating a Google Analytics account." In the latter case, you are just activating Google Analytics within a Google account, which can be either an owner account or a brand account. When Google's Help Section and other articles refer to an "Analytics account," they are really referring to a Google Analytics setup activated within a Google account.

An "account" is a top-most level of access to Google services such as Analytics. A "property" within Analytics is a website, mobile application, or device (e.g. a kiosk or point-of-sale device or some combination of these things). An Analytics "account" can contain one or more properties. Within an Analytics account, you add the properties from which you want to collect data. When you add a property to an account, Analytics generates the tracking code that you use to collect data from that property. The tracking code contains a unique ID that identifies the data from that property, and makes it easily identifiable in your reports.

The flexibility built into Google Analytics allows us to have different websites tracked all within the same Google account or to use multiple Google brand accounts with Analytics activated in each, each having one or more websites included. To track different websites in different accounts, you obviously need to create multiple Google brand accounts. However, if you prefer to track all your domains and websites under one account, you can add them as different "properties" within a single account. It's up to you how you want to structure it.

When you create a new property within an account, an unfiltered view is generated automatically. This view displays all the data being tracked for that property. You can then create additional views that show only certain data. For example, you can create a view that only shows traffic from organic search listings and another view that shows only traffic from AdWords.

Thus, to summarize the hierarchical levels within Analytics:
  1. Google Account
  2. Properties
If you are part of a team, you can add additional users at any level. By "add users," I'm referring to giving other Google accounts access to view and even manage certain aspects of your Analytics. That is, you can add users at the account, properties, or view levels and you can set the users permissions for each level. You can restrict other "users" (accounts) from a level as well. Depending on the permissions you assign, a user can manage other users, perform administrative tasks (like creating additional views and filters), and access report data.

Linking Accounts

In addition to adding users directly to your Analytics account, you can also link accounts in Google. On most Google pages, your profile photo or icon will appear in the upper right corner of the page. Clicking on your photo or icon yields a dropdown box identifying your account. At the bottom left of this dropdown box should be a link to "Add an Account." By clicking on this link, you can then log into any other Google account you have created and authorized it to be linked to the account. After this is accomplished the added user account can log into the account from by clicking the profile picture and selecting the account.

If you want to work as a team with someone else, you can also give another Google user authority to link to your account. You do this by "inviting" the other account owner to be a user of your site.


If you have only one Google account and one website and do not plan to create additional websites anytime soon, the simplest approach would involve only one Google account. If you should add additional websites in the future, you could create brand accounts for them or, if you do not want to create brand accounts, just add the additional websites to your Google Analytics as new "properties." In the latter case, there would be no necessity to switch between Google accounts or have any concern about authorizing users or linking accounts. For promotional reasons, though, it is often best to create a new brand account for each new website.

If you already have multiple domain names registered and multiple websites created, you need to ask yourself whether all those domains and their websites are really part of one campaign or represent different campaigns. For example, the first domain I registered and website I created was a regional website for the Florida Panhandle geographical area. Later, I registered another domain and created another website for my law practice. I have since registered domains and created websites for my SFI business, a city in my area, my music interests, for selling Internet access and webhosting, and for my freelance writing endeavors. Clearly, most of these are unrelated to the others. As the city and area sites are related, however, I linked them together with one being a brand account of the other. But, due to the history of my use of these sites, it was not convenient to make the old area site a brand account under my personal account. It was easier for me to leave the area account as a separate Google owner account and just authorize my personal account to be an additional owner of the account.

Thankfully, many of you reading this are younger than me and do not have this convoluted legacy of accounts. It will be easier for you to sort out your accounts as you go and keep them organized. Some of you will be creating a Google owner account for the first time. In this case, if you do not allow yourself to be confused by the instructions for moving and linking accounts which have been published to help those with legacy accounts, setting up the structure of your accounts and activities should be straightforward and activating and using Analytics should not be difficult for you.

To use Google Analytics, you must have a Google account. The first account you create with Google will be your personal owner account. You may also want to create an additional brand account (under your owner account) for your website. If you have multiple websites, you may want to consider creating multiple brand accounts. You should decide how you want to set up and organize your accounts before signing up for Google Analytics.

It helps to avoid confusion while using Google Analytics to understand that Google is built on levels. The top level within Analytics is the account level. In the account level, you can create one of more "properties." A "property" within Analytics is a website, mobile application, or device (e.g. a kiosk or point-of-sale device) or some combination of these things. You generate a separate tracking code for each property. Within each property, you can then create one or more "views," each which may specify different data to be seen.

You can authorize other accounts to have access to and control of your Analytics at each level (i.e. either the account, property, or view levels).

In our next lesson, we will walk you through signing up and configuring Google Analytics. Read the next lesson here: Activating Google Analytics. And you may also browse through the Internet Income training Index.

By George Little, Panhandle On-Line, Inc. For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see http://www.profitpropulsion.com

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