How to Track Google Analytics Across Multiple Domains
Written byJon BoonHead of Analytics
Adapt and the wider Welocalize group work with a number of multinational organisations that have websites dedicated to multiple countries and regions.
And, as you might expect, different website domains are often used for each county; for instance, .co.uk for the UK, or .fr for France.
While this makes sense locally, it can make the configuration of Google Analytics a bit more confusing, making it more difficult to derive insight from your data.
With that in mind, how should Google Analytics be set up for organisations with multiple domains?
How to Track Google Analytics Across Multiple Domains
First, there is no 100% correct or incorrect answer for how a GA account should be structured. That said, we’ve always found that the most important element is that the structure should reflect business structure.
"It's all well and good having all of the business data in the world, but if it's not at your fingertips - if you can't derive insight from it - then there's little point it existing in the first place.
"And a core part of that - especially if you're tracking multiple domains across multiple locations - is simplifying your data in a way that makes sense to your physical business structure. If your analytical data reflects your business reality, it will become much simpler to understand and act upon that data you have access to."
For example, is the business run from one centralised location, or does each country/region and corresponding website have a degree of autonomy? With that in mind, there are two different approaches that our clients tend to take with their GA setup.
Tracking Multiple Domains: Approach 1
One GA Property with views for each country/region
This type of setup is one that we see used by organisations that run from a single location, but have a presence in multiple countries/regions. They take the view that different countries (or website hostnames) are just an additional dimension in the GA reports.
As you would not create a new Property just for Organic traffic, you would not create one for each country.
This setup only works if each website uses the same website templates and site structure. If each website is different, this would not be the best approach.
Filters should be created to show full URLs in reports so individual domains can be identified. Read more...
Depending on the size of the organisation, this setup could make clients more liable to sampled reporting when trying to look at the performance of specific countries/regions through segmentation. This will not occur if filtering counties/regions into different views.
A single-property approach will make it more difficult to create multiple views for each country/region. For example, you might want to create a view of ‘Country 1 - Logged in users, but this will be listed alongside all views from Country 2, Country 3, etc...
GA allows 25 views per property, but this number can be increased to 50 by Google.
Custom dimensions/metrics are assigned at a property level and limited to 20 for the free version of GA. This offers little flexibility for country-specific custom dimensions.
If there are multiple Google accounts (run by different agencies in different countries), the impression, click and cost data will appear in all connected views.
Time-of-day reporting within GA is based on a single timezone per view. You will have to look at these reports on a site-specific basis.
For eCommerce websites, transaction values are passed as a value and then the view settings define the currency. For example, a £100 transaction is passed as 100 and then you define the currency as £, so it appears in GA as £100. However, if you define the currency as $, the value will appear in GA as $100. If working in multiple currencies, you must define the currency in the transaction array. Read more here...
Tracking Multiple Domains: Approach 2
Individual GA Properties for each country/region
One roll-up GA Property for all countries/regions
This approach will make the most sense of your data if each country/region has a degree of autonomy (in terms of marketing or how the organisation is run), or if websites differ across domains.
Using this setup, each website will have its own GA Property and corresponding Views depending on business requirements.
Data can be sent to multiple properties using customTask which eliminates the need to duplicate GTM tagging. This can also be done to create specific regions - EMEA etc… - with a property for each
Within GA 360 accounts roll-up reporting can be done through your 360 account manager.
One property per region/country means that multiple views can be created depending on overall business requirements and region/country-specific requirements.
Hit limits will be less likely to be hit on properties other than the roll-up. A tool like Big Query could be used for reporting on a roll-up property to eliminate sampling.
Combining GA data from multiple websites is not always the best approach. If you have two independent websites with completely different purposes, combining data could just confuse matters and make reporting more difficult than it needs to be
Templated websites that use the same URL structure are the best ones to combine data, as the tracking that you apply to one website can often be applied to the other sites. As mentioned earlier, GA should mirror the organisational structure so that you can get the insights you need.