Introduction to Google Analytics Account Hierarchy (Structure Explained)

The hierarchy of accounts, users, properties, and views:

We use Analytics to gather and report on information about visitor traffic to a property. A property can be a website, a mobile application, a blog–any page that receives traffic via a the web or an mobile app. To collect that information with Analytics, We need to:

  • Add our property to the account.
  • Add the Analytics tracking code to our property.
  • Keep the default, unfiltered view for that property as is, and add additional views so GA can filter data.
  • Optionally, give additional users access to the property and views.

First, let’s take a look at how Google Analytics entities are related within the framework of Analytics.

google analytics structure

Account: Our access point for Analytics, and the topmost level of organization.

Property: Website, mobile application, blog, etc. An account can contain one or more properties.

View (Profile): Our access point for reports; a defined view of visitor data from a property. We can give users access to a view so user can see the reports based on that view’s data. A property can contain one or more views.

Users: We add users to an account. We can assign three different permissions to a user (Manage Users, Edit, or View), and can assign different permissions at the account, property, and view levels. The permissions govern which actions users can take, and whether they have access to reports.

google analytics explained

Accounts

We need at least one account so we can have access to Analytics, and so we can identify the properties we want to track. How we manage the relationship between accounts and properties is up to us. We can use a one-to-one relationship of one account/one property, or can use a one-to-many relationship of one account/many properties. We can have multiple Analytics accounts.

Properties

Within an Analytics account, we add the properties from which we want to collect visitor data. When we add a property to an account, Analytics generates the tracking code that we 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 our reports. Analytics also creates one unfiltered view for each property we add.

Views

A view is a defined perspective of the data from a property, and provides access to the reports for that property.

For example, within a property we might have:

  • One view of all the data for www.example.com
  • One view of only AdWords traffic to www.example.com
  • One view of only traffic to a subdomain like www.sales.example.com

We define a view by applying filters.

When we add a property to an account, Analytics creates the first view for that property. That first view has no filters, and so includes all the data for that property. To ensure that we always have access to all of the data for a property, do not delete that first unfiltered view.

We can create additional views and apply filters to them so that they each include the specific subset of data in which we’re interested.

When we create a view, we can then report on that particular data from the creation date of the view forward. For example, if we create a view on July 1, then we can report on data from July 1 forward, but not on any data collected prior to July 1.

If we need to report on data from before the creation date of a view, we can use our first, unfiltered view, and use the date range and other controls to isolate specific information. We have be careful, however, not to apply filters to that view.

If we delete a view, that specific perspective of the data is gone. Forever. Don’t delete a view if we think we might ever want to report on that particular perspective of the data.

To view reports in Analytics, We first select a view. While Analytics includes a default set of reports, only those that correspond to the data identified for the view have any content.

Users

We add users to an Analytics account. We can add those users at the account, property, or view level; and we can restrict their access at each level. When we add a user, we identify that person by an email address that is registered in Google accounts, and we assign the appropriate permissions. Depending on the permissions we assign, that user can manage other users, perform administrative tasks like creating additional views and filters, and see the report data.

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