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I am IT for a company who hosts 600+ websites for individual businesses. So with that said, we manage analytics for these accounts as well. And for all but about 50, they only care about the basics, sessions, bounce rate etc etc so they just get a basic "view" of what's happening with their site. Being that we are a fully managed hosting company, I am going to take this a step further, and using the GA Analytics API, give them a visual representation of the analytics within their dashboard that we host. That's all working and gtg.

The issue I have is that I inherited a mess with the way Analytics is set up. The way I've always thought about it, is that it should run "deep" and not "wide". Currently our accounts look like:

analytics1@our-company.com

      Account Jane Doe Co
            Property janedoe.com

      Account Frand C Coorp
            Property frankccoorp.com

      Account John Doe Co
            Property johndoe.com

      Account Dan Man 
            Property danman.com

Well you can only have 100 accounts -- So we have

analytics1@our-company.com
analytics2@our-company.com
analytics3@our-company.com
analytics4@our-company.com
analytics5@our-company.com
analytics6@our-company.com
analytics7@our-company.com

Each with 100 accounts that has a single property (website) under it.

For organizational purposes, would it not be prudent to do:

analytics1@our-company.com
      Account Our Company Block 1
            Property janedoe.com
            Property frankccoorp.com
            Property johndoe.com
            Property danman.com
            ... allows 50 properties per account

      Account Our Company Block 2
            Property foobar.com
            Property widgetcoorp.com
            Property balhblah.com
            Property example.com
            ... allows 50 properties per account

IS there an advantage to keeping it all separated? Would there be any issues consolidating? Would I lose historical data if we did "transfer" these accounts and properties into one master account? I need to know if I am thinking about this the correct way.

  1. My Analytics API only allows for 100 accounts to be viewable so I'll have to set up 7 APIs.
  2. If I consolidate, I only need 12-13 accounts of the 100, because each account holds 50 properties

I really need input on the correct way to think about this.

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I think this breaks down into 2 questions really:

  1. How can we simplify our Analytics setups in the future?
  2. What do we do with our pre-existing Analytics accounts?

How can we simplify our Analytics setups in the future?

Having dealt with this myself, I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all solution. As you've already discovered: Keeping track of this many individual accounts is challenging and cumbersome.

You do mention that most of these customers don't need the full breadth of what UA can offer - just some basic stats that you already deliver via a separate dashboard. I take this to mean "they don't need access to Analytics' web UI".

One solution that comes to mind is to have a single "default" UA property that is added to every site right out-of-the-box. This wouldn't be something you grant the customers access to: it's just for collecting the data.
Optionally, you can set a custom dimension to denote what site it's for.
Then you can do all the filtering on the dashboard side: for example, filtering by either hostname or the custom dimension you created. You don't specify how you're building dashboards, but with DataStudio, you could apply this filter in a customer-specific copy of the dashboard, then share Read-Only access with the customer (to prevent them from seeing others' data).

The drawback to this approach is you might run into data sampling depending on how much traffic these sites get. If there are super high volume sites, those might be good candidates for their own separate account - but managing 50 of these is still preferable to 500.

And for the really high maintenance customers that do need full access to Analytics: you can just jump straight ahead to creating their very own Analytics account and adding it to the site like you do already. You could potentially even upsell this and charge a premium for it.

To your actual questions:
Is there an advantage to keeping it all separated?
Sure, keeping them separate means you get to use all the cool UA features they way they were designed - like giving customers access to their own Analytics account. But as you saw, it also has some real drawbacks. Only you can decide whether it's worth the hassle.

Would there be any issues consolidating?
As with any change this big, there are sure to be at least some issues. The ones that come to mind are permissions/integrations that may have been granted in the past. For example, the docs say "If you have linked your Analytics property to an account with Google Ad Manager". It's a whole process where you have to talk to the Ads people (ie, will require your customer to go take action). It'd be impossible to know ahead of time which ones are using something like this and might be affected.

Would I lose historical data if we did "transfer" these accounts and properties into one master account?
You shouldn't lose any data. According to the Google Analytics docs

All reporting data associated with a property is moved (not copied) to the destination account.

What do we do with our pre-existing Analytics accounts?

If I were in your shoes, I would not touch what you already have. If it works as-is, and customers are relying on it already, it seems like a slippery slope to go change it, and the benefits are debatable. I once had a boss who would say "When you touch the poop, it starts to stink". This has proven true time and time again.

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I did the analysis over the weekend on cost/benefit -- And I decided that because we are a sort of "cookie cutter" platform it made sense to automate the process of GA accounts. That being said, it is required that they all be moved to a single "master" account. What I did:

  1. Create "Master" account
  2. Create Accounts under master (conveniently labeling them "blocks")
    a. Create account "Block 1"
    b. Create account "Block 2"
  3. Log into one of the old "master" account
  4. Add new master account (email) as read / analyze / edit / manage users to all accounts
  5. Log back into new master account. and find account you just added user for
  6. Remove old master account email from authorized users
  7. Go to "property(s)" of account you just removed user from
  8. Go to "Property Settings" and -> "Move Property"
  9. Select one of your "Blocks" and "Start Move"
  10. Your "Account" should now be empty. Click "Account Settings" and "Move To Trash"

Note We only use this for basic analytics. Our SEO clients still maintain their own "God" accounts while giving us "access" to said account. This action was to give everyone we serve a "minimal view" of how their website is doing, without having to log into their Google account.

Note Current documentation states you are allowed to have 100 accounts with 50 properties each. Totaling 5,000 properties per master account. This is incorrect as of 11-2020. I have successfully added 100 properties per account, effectively allowing my master account to house 10,000 properties.

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