Google Analytics Account Hierarchy (structure explained)

Last Updated: September 29, 2022

In this article, I will show you, how to structure your Google Analytics account when you own/manage multiple websites, subdomains, mobile apps and/or you have got a very high traffic website.

Understanding Google Analytics Account Hierarchy

The new Google Analytics accounts structure 1

A Google Analytics Account is made up of one or more GA4 properties.

A GA4 property is made up of one or more data streams. This data stream can be a web data stream or app data stream.

The web data streams represent a website. Whereas an app data stream represents a mobile app.

The app data stream can be further classified into IOS and Android app data streams.

A Google Analytics 4 property is made up of only one reporting view. At present, it is not possible to create additional reporting views in GA4 unless you are using GA360.

ga4 reporting view

A Google Analytics 4 view (also known as reporting view) is made up of several reports.

ga4 reports

How Many Google Analytics Accounts Do You Need?

If you own/manage only one company then you only need one Google Analytics account.

If you own/manage multiple companies then you should be using multiple GA accounts.

The rule of thumb is one GA account per company.

Unless you are a business conglomerate or an agency, you do not need more than one Google Analytics account.

Note: Under one Google login, you can create/add a maximum of 100 Google Analytics accounts.

How Many Google Analytics 4 Properties Do You Need?

As a rule of thumb use one GA4 property for each website.

So, if you own/manage only one website then you need only one GA4 property.

If you own/manage two websites then you need two GA4 properties one for each website.

If you are an agency that is in charge of setting up and managing Google Analytics on behalf of their clients then you would need access to multiple GA accounts and GA4 properties.

You don’t need a separate GA4 property just for tracking subdomains as the subdomains are tracked automatically in GA4.

Let us suppose your website https://www.optimizesmart.com has got two sub-domains:

https://learning.optimizesmart.com

https://training.optimizesmart.com

Now when you set up GA4 tracking for the website https://www.optimizesmart.com, its sub-domains would be automatically tracked.

One GA account per client and one GA4 property per website.

If you have two clients then you should set up two GA accounts and two GA4 properties, one for each client.

If your client owns a mobile app in addition to a website then also you need only one GA4 property.

However, you would have to use two data streams, one web data stream and one app data stream.

If your client owns one mobile app for IOS devices and one mobile app for Android devices then you should be using two app data streams, one IOS app data stream and one Android app data stream.

Note: You should also consider setting up one GA4 property just for testing purposes. We call such property a GA4 test property.

How do I create additional reporting views in GA4?

If you are using GA360 then you can create additional reporting views in GA4 via GA4 subproperties:

ga4 subproperties

To learn more about creating and using subproperties in GA4, check out this article: Google Analytics 4 Sub Properties Tutorial

How Many Google Analytics 4 Views Do You Need?

You would need one GA4 view which contains unfiltered data. You must always maintain one unfiltered view as data once incorrectly filtered cannot be unfiltered.

You would need one GA4 view which contains traffic only from your target market

For example, if your target market is only the US then your view should collect data, only from the US.

Otherwise, you would end up analysing the website usage data of people from all over the world instead of just from the US.

By default, a GA4 view, reports traffic from all over the world.

Now, the problem with such type of traffic is that it skews all of your website usage metrics from goal conversion rate to ecommerce conversion rate.

Apart from these two views, you may need many more reporting views depending on, how you want to segment the data.

Read the following article to know about the various GA views that I recommend: 10 Google Analytics Views that you must always use.

Visual Representation of Google Analytics Account Setups

The following diagram shows the Google Analytics account set up for business owners who own only one website:

one website

The following diagram shows the Google Analytics account set up for business owners who own one website and one mobile app:

one website one mobile app

The following diagram shows the Google Analytics account set up for business owners who own multiple websites:

multiple websites

The following diagram shows the Google Analytics account set up for marketing consultants, agencies or business owners who own multiple companies and websites:

multiple companies multiple websites

Google Analytics account structure for closely connected websites

When two or more websites together provide a complete user experience then these types of websites are known as closely connected websites.

For example,

If your website checkout process occurs on a different website then your website and the other website are closely connected websites.

Similarly,

If your website checkout process occurs on a different sub-domain then your primary domain and the sub-domain are closely connected websites.

If your website checkout process occurs on a different sub-domain then use one GA4 property to track both the primary domain and sub-domain.

This way, you can track customer purchase journeys across domains.

For example:

Let’s say your website address is www.abc.com but the checkout is hosted on store.abc.com

In this case, use one GA4 property for both the primary domain and sub-domain. 

You can do that by installing the same GA4 tracking code on all of the pages of both the primary domain and the sub-domain.

However, 

If store.abc.com also sell products that you can directly buy from the website without first travelling through www.abc.com then you should set up two GA4 properties:

  1. One GA4 property for tracking users across the primary domain and the sub-domain.
  2. One GA4 property for tracking users’ activities only on the sub-domain.

To do this you would need to fire two different GA4 configuration tags on all the pages of your sub-domain.

Use GA4 roll-up properties for setting up roll reporting

ga4 roll up property

A roll-up property is a special type of GA4 property whose event data comes from other GA4 properties (also known as source properties).

With the help of rollup property, you can understand the overall performance of your company across all business verticals.

Let us suppose that you have set up one website for each business vertical.

Let’s say your primary website is www.abc.com and you have set up the following websites for different business verticals:

  • www.abcmusic.com for selling products related to music
  • www.abcgames.com for selling products related to gaming
  • www.abcfinance.com for selling products related to finance.

In that case, also, you should:

  1. set up one GA4 property for www.abc.com
  2. set up one GA4 property for each business vertical.
  3. set up one GA4 Rollup property that consolidates data from all GA properties.

Setting up Multiple GA4 Properties to Fix Data Sampling Issues

If your website gets more than half a million sessions a month and you are not planning to use GA 360 then you should consider tracking different sections of your website via different properties.

This is because data sampling occurs at the property level and the probability of Google Analytics to sample the data increases when a user query is based on more than 500,000 sessions.

Related Article: Understanding Data Sampling in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#1 Google Analytics 4 Intro

  1. What is GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – The Apps + Web Property?
  2. Key Benefits of Using Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. Setup GA4 – Upgrade to GA4 – Implementation Guide
  4. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) vs Universal Analytics – What is the Difference?
  5. GA4 vs GA4 360 – Pricing, Limits, Billing and More
  6. Google Analytics 4 Training & Tutorial with FREE GA4 ebook

#2 Google Analytics 4 Property

  1. Google Analytics Account Hierarchy (Structure Explained)
  2. Understanding Google Analytics Measurement ID (GA4)
  3. Google Signals GA4 – See Demographics (Gender, Age) in Google Analytics 4
  4. Using the GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Test Property
  5. Google Analytics 4 Sub Properties Tutorial
  6. Roll up Property in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) – Tutorial

#3 Google Analytics 4 Integrations

  1. How to connect GA4 (Google Analytics 4) with Google Data Studio
  2. How to link GA4 (Google Analytics 4) with Google Ads
  3. How to link Google Search Console to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. How to Install Google Analytics 4 on Shopify
  5. GA4 Firebase Integration – Correctly Add App Data Streams to GA4 Property

#4 Google Analytics 4 Events

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Event Tracking Setup Tutorial
  2. Understanding Event Parameters in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. Recommended Events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. Enhanced Measurement Events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  5. Automatically Collected Events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  6. How to Set Up GA4 Custom Events via Google Tag Manager
  7. Events Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  8. How to Rename Events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  9. How to Use Google Analytics 4 Event Builder

#5 Google Analytics 4 Conversions

  1. Google Analytics 4 Conversion Tracking Guide – GA4 Goals
  2. How to Import Conversions from GA4 Property to Your Google Ads account
  3. GA4 Conversion Rate – How to find it and use it

#6 Google Analytics 4 Dimensions

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Dimensions Tutorial
  2. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Custom Dimensions Tutorial
  3. GA4 User Properties (User Scoped Custom Dimensions) – Tutorial
  4. Event Scoped Custom Dimensions in GA4 – Tutorial

#7 Google Analytics 4 Metrics

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Metrics Tutorial with Free Google Analytics 4 Ebook
  2. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Custom Metrics Tutorial
  3. What are Predictive Metrics in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#8 Google Analytics 4 Ecommerce

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Ecommerce Tracking via GTM – Tutorial

#9 Google Analytics 4 Specialized Tracking

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Enhanced Measurement Tracking Tutorial
  2. Cross Domain Tracking in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Setup Guide
  3. GA4 Site Search – Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics 4
  4. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Scroll Tracking Tutorial
  5. Self-referral Google Analytics 4 – Referral exclusion GA4
  6. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Data Import Tutorial
  7. Google Analytics 4 Content Grouping – Create Content Groups in GA4
  8. How to Track Single Page Apps in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  9. utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign Parameters – GA4 (Google Analytics 4)

#10 Google Analytics 4 filters

  1. GA4 filters – Understanding Data Filters in Google Analytics 4
  2. How to Create and Test Filters in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
  3. Exclude Internal Traffic in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) via IP Filter

#11 Google Analytics 4 Explorations

  1. Free Form Report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – Exploration Report
  2. How to Use the User Lifetime Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. How to Use Path Exploration Report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – Path Analysis
  4. How to Use Segment Overlap Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  5. How to Use the Funnel Exploration Report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – Funnel Analysis
  6. Cohort Exploration Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  7. How to Create Landing Pages Report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
  8. How to Create Google Ads report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
  9. How to Segment GA4 Data by Data Stream
  10. Organic Search Traffic Analysis in GA4 – Complete Guide

#12 Google Analytics 4 Advanced

  1. Understanding Google Analytics 4 Sessions
  2. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Measurement Protocol Tutorial
  3. How to Build Comparisons (Advanced Segments) in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. Understanding Automated Insights in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  5. Understanding Channel Groupings in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  6. Understanding Data Sampling in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#13 Google Analytics 4 Reports

  1. How to Create Custom Insights in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  2. How to Use Debug View Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#14 Google Analytics 4 Attribution

  1. Guide to Attribution Models in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
  2. How to Change Attribution Models in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)?
  3. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Conversion Paths Report in Attribution
  4. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Model Comparison Report in Attribution
  5. Advertising Snapshot in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Attribution
  6. GA4 Attribution Modelling Tutorial

#15 Google Analytics 4 Audiences

  1. GA4 Audiences – Creating Custom Audience in Google Analytics 4
  2. How to Create a Remarketing Audience in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. Understanding Audience Triggers in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Predictive Audiences – Tutorial

#16 Google Analytics 4 BigQuery

  1. GA4 BigQuery – Connect Google Analytics 4 with BigQuery
  2. BigQuery GA4 Schema – Send Custom GA4 Data to BigQuery
  3. How to Backfill GA4 Data in BigQuery
  4. How to Connect and Export Data from GA

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About the Author

Himanshu Sharma

  • Founder, OptimizeSmart.com
  • Over 15 years of experience in digital analytics and marketing
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  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Awards for Excellence
  • Runs one of the most popular blogs in the world on digital analytics
  • Consultant to countless small and big businesses over the decade
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