GA4 – PDF
+ configure multiple properties w/ same code

GA4-ebookV4

 


 

Properly set up your Google Analytics when you have multiple accounts.

 

  1. Know the difference between accounts, properties, and views
  2. Add all sites under a single Google Analytics account
  3. Create multiple views for each property
  4. Add each site as unique accounts
  5. Configure roll-up reporting
  6. Add your tracking codes in Google Tag Manager
  7. Verify your analytics set up in Google Tag Assistant
  8. Set up a custom dashboard to view all of your data in one place
  9. Implement cross-domain tracking
  10. Update your Referral Exclusion List
  11. Block bots
  12. Use the annotation feature

 


setting up views

As others have said, dashboards sit on the "view" level, along with custom reports. With that in mind, here are 2 ways I can imagine accomplishing the goal of "I want to see all my data from all the websites I'm tracking in one dashboard."

  1. Use Data Studio. This kind of thing is pretty much exactly what it was designed for — you can blend data from all your GA properties into a single data source and build reports off of it.
  2. If you must have your dashboard inside Google Analytics, you could shift your account structure down one level. Instead of 1 account, 3 properties, you could create 1 account, 1 property, and send all the data to the same GA tracking code. Then, you use different views to segment your websites' data–and one of those views will include all the data from all the sites. The others will be filtered (probably by hostname, but you can do it a number of ways.)

For example, this property would have an "All data" view, a "Website A" view, "Website B" view, etc.

 

image-20230803083058712




ANALYTICS GA4 REPORT

Google Analytics Multiple Websites

Table of Contents

The Google Analytics (GA) platform is an excellent tool that can provide valuable insights for all of your projects, but it can be tricky to keep track of everything if you’re not familiar with using it for multiple sites.

Adding to the challenge is the imminent replacement of Universal Analytics (UA) by Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This new version promises to be even more powerful yet also more complex, with new features and options that can be confusing for even the most experienced analysts.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using Google Analytics for multiple websites. We’ll break down how to set up your account, add new properties, and share data between multiple sites on both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.

 

The need to track multiple websites in Google Analytics

On the surface, Google Analytics looks like a tough tool to master. There are so many things going on in the dashboard – from sessions and users to conversions and Ecommerce data – that it can be intimidating for novice users.

The beauty of using Google Analytics is that once you understand the basics, you can replicate your configurations across multiple properties with ease.

However, there are certain scenarios where you might need to adjust your tracking code or configure things differently. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • You’re tracking several geo-targeted Ecommerce websites. Ecommerce businesses usually sell their products or services in multiple countries and regions. That requires setting up multiple websites, each targeting a specific location, currency, language, and more.
  • You’re handling a website supported by several microsites. Microsites are small websites usually attached to a larger, primary website. They might be used for specific campaigns, products, or services, and they often have their own domain names or subdomains. You’ll need to set up each one as a separate GA property.
  • You have a blog on a subdomain or an alternative URL. A lot of businesses choose to keep their blog separate from their main website, either on a subdomain (e.g., blog.company.com) or an entirely different URL (e.g., companyblog.com). If you want to track traffic and engagement for your blog separately from the rest of your website, you’ll need to set it up as its own GA property.
  • You have a primary website and an app. Google Analytics can track not only websites but also mobile apps. If you want to track user behavior on your app separately from your website, you’ll need to create a new property for it and use the GA SDK for your platform of choice.

These are just some examples, but there are endless possibilities when it comes to tracking multiple sites in GA.

The key is to carefully define the project’s analytics tracking requirements before even starting to think about the implementation. Once you know what needs to be tracked and where, the rest will fall into place.

 

Planning and preparation

Again, the most important thing when it comes to tracking multiple sites in Google Analytics is to plan ahead. Don’t even fire up your Google Analytics account until you’ve answered the following questions in detail:

 

1. Which web properties do you need to track in GA?

Web properties don’t just refer to websites. They can also be microsites, mobile apps, blog platforms, and landing pages – basically anything that generates web traffic and engagement data.

You also need to anticipate any future web properties you might need to track.

For example, if you’re planning to launch a new microsite or website in the near future, it’s best to set it up in GA now rather than wait until it goes live. That way, you can start collecting data from day one.

Selecting what to track

 

2. What business objectives are associated with each web property?

Aside from identifying which web properties you need to track, you also need to think about why you’re tracking them. What business goals will each help you achieve?

As an example, let’s say you have an Ecommerce website, a blog, and a microsite for a specific campaign. The business objectives for each might be:

  • Ecommerce website: increase online sales
  • Blog: increase brand awareness and drive traffic to the website
  • Microsite: generate leads for the sales team

Once you’ve identified the business objectives for each web property, it will be easier to decide which metrics and dimensions you need to track.

 

3. Do you need a separate GA property for each web entity?

This is where you need to start thinking about how all the web properties will work together in GA. Do you need to track them all in a single property? Or would it make more sense to create separate properties for each one?

There are pros and cons to both approaches. Here are they:

  • Tracking everything in one property can give you a holistic view of your data, but it can also make your reports more difficult to interpret.
  • Creating separate properties for each web property can make your reports easier to understand, but it might also make it harder to spot patterns and relationships across all your data.

The best way to decide is to ask yourself what kind of insights you’re hoping to get from your analytics data. Some common examples include the following:

  • Comparing traffic from different channels (e.g., organic, paid, direct)
  • Finding out which content is most popular with your audience
  • Identifying which web properties are driving the most conversions

Once you know what kind of insights you need, you can decide whether it’s better to track everything in one property or create separate properties for each web property.

Do you need separate properties for each site

 

4. What are the overall analytics requirements for the project?

Finally, you need to think about the overall analytics requirements for the project. This refers to the specific data you need to collect in order to meet your business objectives.

Some of the most common GA data points include:

Traffic sources (e.g., organic, direct, referral)

  • Pageviews and unique pageviews
  • Bounce rate
  • Session duration
  • Transactions and revenue
  • Conversion rate

This part will be informed by the answers to the previous questions. So, for example, if one of your business objectives is to increase online sales, you’ll need to make sure you’re tracking transactions and revenue in GA.

If one of your goals is to generate leads, on the other hand, you’ll need to track conversion rate, as well as the specific pages and actions that users take before they convert.

Together, these steps will form the master plan for your GA implementation. By taking the time to think about all the different elements upfront, you can avoid problems later on and make sure your data is as accurate and insightful as possible.

 

Google Analytics account structures

Google Analytics currently has two versions: the old Universal Analytics and the new Google Analytics 4 platform. They each have a different process for GA account structures:

 

GA account structures in Universal Analytics

In UA, a web property is considered to be a single entity. This can be anything: a website, a blog, or a mobile app. Each web property is given a unique tracking ID.

UA Dashboard

UA also uses “views” to segment and analyze data when you add a site to Google Analytics. It works like this:

  • You set up a web property, which has a default view. This view includes all the data for that web property.
  • You can then create up to 25 additional views for that web property. Each view can have its own filters, goals, and other settings.
  • Views are typically used to segment data in a way that’s meaningful for your business.
  • For example, you might create a view for each website in your network or for each country you’re targeting. You may also create a view for mobile traffic or for a specific campaign.

Configuring views is one of the most critical parts of setting up Universal Analytics correctly. If you don’t set up views properly, you might accidentally delete data or skew your results.

 

GA account structures in Google Analytics 4

GA4 removes views altogether. This means that data is no longer segmented at the view level – everything is rolled up into a single property.

GA4 Dashboard

  • One GA4 property can track data from multiple websites and mobile apps.
  • This makes it much easier to get a complete picture of your customer’s journey, as you can see how they interact with your business across multiple channels.

GA4 also introduces a new concept called “data streams.” A data stream is a specific source of data, such as a website, a mobile app, or even an IoT device. You can have up to 100 data streams per property.

  • Data streams make it easy to see how different channels are performing and to compare apples to apples.
  • For example, you can compare the data from your website to the data from your iOS app and see how they stack up against each other.

Finally, because GA4 doesn’t include views anymore, you’ll need to handle user access and permissions differently. Instead of using views, you’ll need to use account-level and property-level permissions.

Now, let’s dive into how to handle multiple domains in Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics.

 

Multiple domains in universal analytics

Setting up multiple domains in Universal Analytics involves a lot of moving parts. Depending on how many web properties you have, you may need to track hundreds or thousands of different domains, subdomains, and cross-domains.

Because of this, planning is the most critical part of the process. First, you’ll need to take a close look at your data and decide how you want to segment it. Then, once you have a plan, you can start setting up your views and filters.

Keep in mind the following when setting up multiple domains in Universal Analytics:

 

You can use a single Google account for multiple GA properties

There’s no need to create separate Google accounts for each GA property you want to track. In addition, you can set up a maximum of 25 GA accounts under that single account.

Most businesses will only need one GA account. But if you need more than that, you can upgrade to a premium account, which gives you enterprise-level features and support.

 

Each GA property will have its own analytics ID

The analytics ID is a unique identifier for each GA property. This tells GA which property to track the data for.

You’ll need to generate a new analytics ID for each GA property you want to track. You can do this in the Admin section of your GA account. Generally, you’ll be using multiple GA properties (and their respective analytics IDs) for each domain you want to track. You can manually implement these tracking codes or use Google Tag Manager.

 

Universal Analytics views can be configured depending on reporting requirements

UA views allow you to customize the data that are being collected for each domain. This can be done through filters and segments.

Filters let you include or exclude data from your view. For example, you might want to include data from all subdomains but only exclude data from a specific subdomain. Segments let you divide your data into groups so that you can compare them side by side. For example, you might want to segment your data by gender or by location.

On top of that, you can also use views to create a configuration backup for your UA property. This is useful if you ever need to roll back to a previous version of your configuration.

 

Cross-domain tracking is a useful feature in UA

Google Analytics cross domain tracking refers to tracking activity across multiple domains from a single GA property. This can be beneficial for certain types of properties, such as Ecommerce websites with third-party shopping carts.

Without cross domain tracking, the data from your website and the data from your shopping cart would be tracked separately. This makes it difficult to see the full picture of the customer’s journey, especially since there are third-party data involved.

 

You can configure referral exclusions in UA

Finally, setting up multiple domains in UA also involves configuring referral exclusions. This feature lets you specify which domains should not trigger a new GA session. In simple terms, it enables you to exclude certain referrals (aka traffic sources) from your data.

This can be useful in cases such as when you have a paid ad on another website and you don’t want the traffic from that site to be considered referral traffic.

 

Multiple domains in Google Analytics 4

Establishing a property on GA4 and adding GA4 to a domain is a highly technical process, but as long as you follow the steps, it’s not that difficult.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to add a website to Google Analytics 4:

  1. To get started, open your GA4 account and click on Admin.
  2. Go to the account column. If there are several accounts, select the one you want to use.
  3. Next, click on GA Setup Assistant under the property column.
  4. Then, click on the “Get Started” button on the GA Setup Assistant screen.
  5. This will lead you to the next screen, which has the button to create property.
  6. Click on “create property,” which will establish a new GA4 property name and ID.
  7. After that, you will be able to see the “Data Streams” option.
  8. If you click “Data Streams,” you can see the specific stream ID for your GA4 property.
  9. Clicking on the stream ID will pull up the Web Stream Details page, where you can get the GA4 measurement ID.
  10. Next, head over to Tagging Instructions to get the global site tag (gtag.js) code.
  11. Copy the code and paste it into thesection of the website HTML. You can also deploy it via Google Tag Manager.

GA4 Tag

GA4 Site Tag

GA4 Tag Settings

Remember that you’ll need separate measurement IDs and GA properties for each domain you want to track.

You can also execute cross-domain tracking in GA4 using the data stream for the website. Before doing so, make sure to plan it with care. There are certain scenarios where it might not make sense to aggregate the data into one property, such as for websites and apps that are not related to each other.

Lastly, you can also set up referral exclusions in GA4. To do this, define conditions to identify any referring domains you want to exclude.

 


 


 

Tracking Multiple Domains: Setup & Reporting for Dozens of Sites

Proper tracking for one site is complicated. Now imagine a Google Analytics setup that works for dozens of sites. Here's how to do it.


By Michaela Linhart

9 min. read

View original


How do you coordinate the analytics setup of a web shop that sells their products all over the world—if you have to handle 10+ languages and currencies in over 80 countries?

What about corporation-wide reporting for different brands, verticals, portals, or even companies within a multinational concern, all of which operate in different countries?

The more websites or web projects to coordinate, the more complex the handling of the data. From technical installation to reporting, there are several hurdles to overcome.

But some clever hacks can help clear those hurdles. In this post, I share solutions that I’ve learned from several major projects on the agency and customer side.

1. Planning, preparation, and an excellent concept

You can be successful only with a detailed tracking and implementation concept. This is even more important if you’re managing a “pack” of websites.

First, think about your reporting requirements for all the websites. Aggregate them and consider how those needs transfer to your web analysis tool:

  • What do you want to analyze?
  • What are your business requirements? Which require special attention?
  • Are you technically able to implement those requirements?
  • Can all data be stored within Google Analytics?

You also need a strategic plan for your collected data—including why you’re collecting it:

  • Is data collected only because everyone is talking about it?
  • After collection, does the data ever leave the web analysis tool?
  • Is it actively improving campaigns or helping optimize the site?
  • Does anyone even look at it?

A sample way to answer those questions is the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model from Avinash Kaushik. It’s a simple and structured five-step process that clarifies your needs into a workable concept.

A sample outcome from Kaushik’s five-step process. (Image source)

This may seem obvious. But it’s often neglected. Without a working plan, the result is even more (wasted) effort. Either the data that is needed isn’t collected, or—in the worst-case scenario—you’re collecting and analyzing the wrong data.

It’s happened to me. I once had to coordinate 13+ webshops that, technically, were unique entities but differed only in language, currency, and elements like teasers and promotion boxes. For whatever reason, our engineers forgot to implement the tracking on one of the shops, and I forgot to test everything correctly.

As a result, my reports were wrong. My conclusions were wrong. And we spent money for advertising in a market with near-zero growth opportunity—all because of a half-baked tracking concept.

Therefore, planning and concept first. Then implementation.

2. Organize your Accounts, Properties, and Views

Whether you use Google Analytics, Webtrekk, Matomo (formerly Piwik), or any other web analysis tool, the account taxonomy must also be designed in advance, especially when many websites are involved. (For this post, I’ll focus on Google Analytics.)

Will you track your data in only one Account or several? In one Property or several? In one View or several? Here’s what Google suggests—and three workarounds to manage potential limitations of that recommendation.

The best practice Account setup according to Google

Google recommends:

  • One Account per company;
  • One Property per website;
  • For each Property, one “Analysis” View, one “Test” View, and one “Backup” View.

 

With this setup, however, you can’t analyze Website 1 and Website 2 together. You never get a big picture of your entire business. If this is something you really need (i.e. was part of your tracking concept), you have to adjust your setup.

Here are three workarounds, each of which has benefits and limitations.

Account setup: Workaround 1

Sometimes, it makes sense to combine all your websites within one Property for corporation-wide reporting—while retaining the ability to analyze websites independently.

In this case, you’d have:

  • One Account for your company;
  • One Property for all your websites;
  • One roll-up View for all your websites;
  • One View for each website.

This is really useful if you have a webshop in several countries and, for each country, a separate team of marketers or analysts. You can give each team access to their webshop data and reserve access to the roll-up View for headquarters and global reporting.

The same works for companies that have several subdomains (e.g., company.com, shop.company.com, blog.company.com, portal.company.com, etc.). You can create one View for each subdomain and combine all data in a roll-up View for company-wide reporting.

This strategy also works for companies with multiple brands or web projects. Just bear in mind the following limits in the free version of Google Analytics:

If your tracking needs exceed any of those limits, the next Account concept might work better.

Account setup: Workaround 2

Sometimes, it makes more sense to combine some—but not all—websites within a single Property, especially if you’re running up against the 25-View limit.

I had a project for a company using the free version of Google Analytics. They had 35 independent websites. Most were separate sites for various European countries, but we also had some non-European countries.

We split the sites into two pots: A “European” pot and an “International” one, which, in turn, gave us a European Property and an International Property. We had a roll-up View for European reporting as well as individual Views for each country. The same was true for the international sites.

We simply bypassed the 25-View limit by splitting the traffic into two properties. Here’s what that setup looked like:

  • One Account for the company;
  • Multiple Properties for regions (or brands);
  • One roll-up View for each Property;
  • One View per website.

 

What we lost, of course, was a View with data from all websites—European and International—something that the next workaround can solve.

Account setup: Workaround 3

For other needs, it may make sense to set up a combination of Workarounds 1 and 2. Why?

You may need to split your traffic into several Properties to bypass the View-based limits (Workaround 2) but still want to retain company-wide reporting with all traffic feeding into one View (Workaround 1).

In short, this is the “I wish I had Google Analytics 360” scenario. (In Google Analytics 360 you can have up to 200 Views per Property, even raising that limit if need be.)

With this workaround, you create multiple Properties to house country-level Views and another Property—with a different tracking code—for all traffic. That second tracking code feeds data from all websites into a roll-up Property.

(There’s a more elegant version of this solution that employs Google Tag Manager, something covered in the next section.)

To summarize, in this workaround you have:

  • One Account for your company;
  • Multiple Properties for regions (or brands) and one Property (with a different tracking code) to aggregate data from all sites;
  • One roll-up View for each Property;
  • One View per website.

 

If this solution seems a bit fragile or messy, Google Tag Manager (GTM) offers an alternative.

3. Use GTM to streamline implementation and management

It doesn’t matter if you have 5,000 websites, 50, or only 1. Google Tag Manager (or another tag management system, like Tealium IQ) simply makes your life better.

Tag management makes your tracking system flexible and speeds up implementation. You can track almost everything via GTM: events, custom dimensions, custom metrics, content grouping, etc.

One more advantage: You can send data from one tracking code into two Google Analytics Properties—the more elegant solution to Workaround 3. Instead of adding the Google Analytics tracking code to the site twice, you simply send one hit to two Properties.

Simo Ahava describes in detail how you can set this up with a Custom JavaScript Variable.

Want to send hits from one UA code to two Google Analytics properties? GTM is your answer. (Image source)

Another advantage of GTM is that you can deploy the same container on several websites if their tracking needs are (roughly) the same. For example, if you have 5+ websites that technically are unique but differ only in minor elements, you can use one GTM container for all sites.

That saves a lot of set-up work—and even more maintenance work. To differentiate Properties, use the hostname Variable:

 

To differentiate Google Analytics Views, apply a hostname filter:

 

If you must use two or more GTM containers, I recommend a master GTM container to supplement the others:

 

For each new tracking project, export the setup from the master into each live container. This saves a lot of set-up work—you do the bulk of the setup once, then make minor adjustments in individual containers.

(If you have to make high-level changes to your master container—like adding a generic Custom Dimension to your Settings Variable or scroll tracking—don’t forget to make the changes in all other GTM containers, too. Yes, this is a little bit of maintenance work but still trivial compared to managing multiple containers without a master.)

Last fall, Google also rolled out GTM custom templates, which makes it easier to handle several containers.

4. Set up Google Analytics Alerts to improve monitoring

When I first had to monitor 15 webshops, 6 blogs, a member area (in several languages), and two other brands for an international fitness company, I was overwhelmed.

Then, I started using Custom Alerts—but too many alerts. I had 30 alerts across all websites and, daily, got hammered with hundreds of them. I reduced that initial pool to the most important for my daily needs:

  1. No data. Critical to identify serious errors.
  2. PII check. For data security.
  3. Self referrals occur. Because that’s a tracking error.
  4. Session drop/increase. To identify peaks or valleys of X percent.
  5. Revenue drop/increase. To identify peaks or valleys of X percent.
  6. Transaction drop/increase. To identify peaks or valleys of X percent.

I describe those in detail here. (The post is in German, but the Google Chrome translation works well.)

Even if you’re managing a single website, I’d still recommend them. I get pinged instantly if there’s a tracking issue, transactions flatline, etc. It’s awesome!

Dashboards are another easy way to monitor. For quick reviews, you can use the dashboards directly in Google Analytics. But those, as you likely know, have limitations. Data Studio or Google Spreadsheet dashboards are much better, especially when automated.

5. Automate your reporting

The dashboard below is simple, beautiful (at least in my eyes), tells me exactly what I need to know, and is sent automatically to my inbox each day. (It also goes to my boss!)

 

As a web analyst, you probably need to report to several people in your company—different departments need different data and want their reports on different days and at different times. This can quickly become complex.

Moreover, multiple websites in multiple timezones also mean that a report is due to someone, somewhere, at almost any hour. A manual process doesn’t survive these demands.

Unfortunately, Google Sheets doesn’t allow you to schedule and send your reports to different people. That’s why I created a Spreadsheet add-on to do exactly this. You can get and use the Schedule & Send Spreadsheet add-on for free.

 

Go to the G Suite Marketplace and install it in Google Sheets:

 

With this add-on, you can send your reports as a PDF, XLS, or CSV file via email to one or several people:

 

 

You can schedule those sends on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis:

It’s helped me (and 15,000 other analysts) so much in my work with dashboards. Still, as useful as these technical hacks may be, they can’t solve everything.

The best technical hacks still need human support

A boss who understands the importance of web analytics. If your boss is not interested in data, no employee will have the necessary resources for web analysis. The same applies to conversion optimization, SEO, or any other discipline.

A collaborative, motivated team. Being a solo fighter is hard and frustrating. Find an ally and work together to pursue common goals. Talk to other teams, share your knowledge, and find fellows. Nothing beats a strong team.

A project manager who focuses on the overall picture. The maintenance of many websites requires a project manager—someone who’s focused on how all analytics efforts ladder up.

If several countries are involved, appoint a project manager from each country and a top-level owner for analytics. In smaller businesses, the web analyst also acts as the project manager.

Recurring project management. We have a daily, 10-minute jour fixe with the core team and a weekly, one-hour stand-up with the bosses.

Conclusion

Managing several websites is demanding. A fully thought-out project concept and effective management is essential.

Luckily, a few clever strategies for Google Analytics, powered in part by a tag management system, can support web analysts’ work. Custom Alerts and automated reports can keep you (and everyone else) informed about progress without spending hours on manual reports.

 

 

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