How GA Calculates Metrics For Accounts

December 31, 2008

The new account interface to Google Analytics (announced in October and rolled out to everyone over the last few months) is a really nice improvement, because it allows you to see, at a glance, how different accounts or profiles are doing and compare them to each other without having to click through to the reports for each profile.

Given that you might have lots of different profiles in an account — even for multiple sites — what exactly does it mean that an account has X visits?

The answer is fairly straightforward, but first you have to understand something about how profiles work. If you’ve ever created a profile, you’ll have seen the following question:

new-profile1

You can create profiles for different sites or multiple profiles for the same site. (Different sites have different tracking code numbers. Multiple profiles for the same site have the same number and receive the same data, but you can filter the data in different ways to see it differently.)

This is how you’ll see profiles listed within an account in the new interface:

profiles1

Notice that they’re sorted by site, then each profile for that site is listed.

When Google Analytics totals up the visits and other metrics for the account, the profile with the highest number of visits wins for each site. Then all sites in the account are totaled.

So, from the screenshot above, the total should be 7835 (the profile with the highest visits for the first site) + 1419 (the only profile for the second site) = 9254. And, voilà:

account

So this can be a really nice way to compare accounts, but you should be aware of exactly how those numbers are totaled up so you know what to expect.