Google Analytics: accounts, web properties, and profiles

Graph on a computer screen.
Google Analytics is even more complicated today.

For new users, the difference between accounts, web properties, and profiles might be confusing, so I decided to break them down. Please note that I’ll be describing the steps and behavior of the newly released version of Google Analytics. Check toward the very top when logged in to make sure it has a link that says “old version,” which indicates you are using the new one.


You can think of an account as a client. Each client is different and they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. When you go to create a new account, that process also creates a web property and a profile automatically for you.

Right after you first login to Google Analytics, you’ll be on the Account Home page. If you look toward the very right in the orange bar, you’ll see a settings icon (looks like a gear), and by clicking on that, you’ll be directed to the Account Administration page. From there you can create new accounts. If you want to edit your account, such as to rename or delete it, click on the Account Settings tab. You’ll also be able to opt-out of sharing your analytics data with Google there.

Web Properties

A web property is basically one website. To put it in perspective, if my account was called Microsoft, then a web property might be, another, and so forth, which allows us to track our websites independently. An administrator can then overview both web properties and assign users to view only specific profiles, but we’ll get into that some more later on.

To create a new web property, make sure you’re on the Web properties tab and you’ll see a button called “New Web Property”. To edit a web property, such as to rename it, change the URL, or select which profile is the default one is (if you have more than one), you can click on the Web Property Settings tab.

As a side note, when you create different web properties under an account, the UA code will be identical except for the last number — it’s incremented by one. So your UA code might be UA-12345678-1 for web property #1 and UA-12345678-2 for web property #2.


Every web property has at least one profile, the default one, and it is completely unrestricted. That profile has access to every piece of analytical data and all reports Google has to offer. The purpose of multiple profiles is to limit the view aka. limit the data and reports that are available under a certain profile. You can then assign users to that limited profile and they’ll only be able to see what you’ve allowed.

Make sure you’re on the Profiles tab and you’ll see which profile you’re editing in the drop-down box below. Under Profile Settings you can rename the profile and update various, optional settings. Learning how to effectively create a limited profile is beyond the scope of this post, so we’ll only cover one last aspect, which is creating users and assigning them to one or more profiles.


If you want to add a user to one specific profile, click on the Users tab when viewing a specific profile in a web property. If you want to assign a user to multiple profiles, go back to your account’s main page and you’ll also find a Users tab there, however, once you click on “New User” from there, you’ll be able to assign one or more profiles to them. A user is added via his or her Google email address. The user’s role must be “user,” and not “administrator”. A “user” can only view reports, but an “administrator” can do everything you can under that account including creating, editing, and deleting web properties and profiles.

Now that you understand the difference between accounts, web properties, and profiles, you’ll be able to use and manage them accordingly. Let me know via a comment below if you have any questions or problems.

Featured image by Markus Winkler.

Comments (4)

Previously posted in WordPress and transferred to Ghost.

Chris Bowyer
April 22, 2012 at 12:55 am

Great article. Thanks for throwing me a bone. I was having a brain haemorrhage trying to work out what Google’s three help pages of babble were about.

Ryan Sechrest
April 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Glad it helped!

April 29, 2012 at 7:43 am

Thanks, this was exactly what I needed

August 21, 2013 at 6:30 am

Very Informative. Thanks