Google’s free tools for website owners provide a massive amount of functionality to anyone willing to put the time into learning them, but getting a lot out of them in a hurry is a challenge. The documentation goes on for days. Just setting up Analytics and Webmaster Tools isn’t exactly straightforward, especially if you consider how many things you can do wrong that may not cause headaches for years to come. Then, one day in the perhaps distant future, you’ll need to do something, show something to someone, or give someone access to something, and it will be a pain, all because you neglected some obscure detail during setup.
Or we can do it right the first time!
You are going to need a new Google Account. No, you can’t use the one you already have.
Don’t worry, we’ll set up the accounts so you can do whatever you want from whichever Google account you want, we just need a new one to set it up. If you want to take me on faith just wait for my next post and we’ll get going on the actual setup. Those wanting to know why can read on.
Don’t Mix Email and Data
Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools (and AdWords for that matter) all give some kind of special consideration to which Google Account originally set up the tools for a given website. With AdWords it’s a real pain, if not impossible, to change the main email on an account because Google doesn’t want people driving up bids with fake accounts, but Analytics and Webmaster Tools have more subtle issues. They boil down to two problems: giving people access to your email account, and giving people access to tool data they shouldn’t have.
We all know you shouldn’t share logins for things, but sometimes it can save so much trouble, often in an emergency, that you end up doing it. With a separate Google Account only used for technical stuff related to your website, giving login access to someone helping you with the site or its marketing becomes a much smaller privacy threat. If it’s also the account you use for email, you are risking information they don’t need to see at all.
What if you already have a Google Account you use just for tools related to another website? You should still set up a new one.
Don’t Mix Data From All Your Websites
Ok, to be honest, there are some exceptions where it makes more sense to put several websites on the same Google Account. This almost always has to do with the websites being different parts of a single online presence though. If your multiple websites or domains are different subdomains, translations, localizations, or what have you, related to one business, it often makes more sense to have them all under the same Google Analytics Account. That’s a horse of a different color though, and complicates setup considerably.
For now, we’ll assume your website has only one domain tied to it.
If you have websites for different businesses or organizations, then those should be added to Analytics and Webmaster Tools from separate Google Accounts. Here’s why: even if, as a savvy owner of several online businesses, you never ever find yourself giving out your login info because you can easily add users if anyone else needs to get in, there isn’t much granularity in how you can set up their permissions. In Google Analytics, if you need to add someone as an Admin (which, if you’ve hired an analytics consultant, you’ll probably do), they’ll then be able to see all of the websites in the account.
It’s not as big a deal as having people see all your email, but if you are involved in partnerships or try to sell a business, it can become a massive source of confusion and confidentiality issues.
Webmaster Tools has its own way of attaching itself to the account that connected it. Removing it can remove some, or even all, of the other site owners you added since, taking valuable data with them.
I Don’t Need to Have a Separate Account Because…
…It’s just you running the website and you just have the one business and won’t be starting another website, ever, and are somehow sure of this? Maybe because you aren’t super interested in online stuff and just needed the site for your established offline business? That increases the likelihood that you’ll one day need help with your website, and possibly share a login to the related tools – all the more reason for a separate account. You can use it as the contact account for your hosting plan as well and keep everything for your website in one place.
Conversely, the more sophisticated a tool user you are, the more likely you are to have several websites, and to take on a variety of collaborators, and perhaps sell websites. Obviously not having full flexibility in who sees what of your Analytics data won’t be ideal as your online empire grows. So one business to one account works for you too.
And don’t worry, we’ll set up email forwards and admin access for your regular account so that the next time you have to see this extra one we made, it will because you need it for something, and you’ll be glad you’ll have set it up. We’ll tackle the new Google Account and setting up Gmail forwarding in my next post, so see you then, unless you have some questions or comments to share below. Thanks!