How GA calculates metrics for accounts


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:


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:


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:


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.

Jonathan Weber is our Data Evangelist, focusing on bringing the strategic value of data analysis to our customers. He spreads the principles of analytics through our training seminars and is currently writing a book on Google Analytics & Tag Manager. Before he caught the analytics bug, he worked in information architecture. Away from the computer you can find him as a flower farmer and plant geek.

  • Marco Cilia

    visits…ok. but what about time on site and bounce rate? I have a profile with 3 sites inside (not copy-profile, three different domains), and time on site displayed in first screen isn’t sum neither average of three

  • Jonathan

    Marco —

    It’s the visit-weighted average of the three sites. That is, it’s not simply (time on site 1 + time on site 2 + time on site 3)/3, but more like a recalculation of the average time across all of the sites (still using those “winning” profiles with the highest visits). So it’s (total time in visits across all 3 sites)/(total number of visits across all three sites).

    Bounce rate is similarly recalculated across the sites — (total single-page visits across all 3 sites)/(total visits across all three sites).

  • David

    Nice post, i agree that the new method to display multiple GA accounts is quite useful, and over the christmas/new year break it was interesting to see that most had similar drops in traffic, but the increases after the new year are not as consistent with some growing but multiples and others just returning to previous levels.

    The only issue is that on a top down view, you cant change the date comparison set, just daily/weekly/monthly/yearly.

  • Amy G

    How many profiles can we have under 1 account in Google Analytics? I read 2 separate answers – 50 & 100. Big difference. I’m looking to create separate profiles, one for each state & country section of my site…,, etc. Note we have over 100+ sections right now and employees can access the data easily in Urchin – but I’m looking to transfer to Google Analytics. We’ve already set up about 10 profiles covering our global domain and our major sub-domains.

    This will allow users to go directly into their individual sections and see top level data. Is the best way to set up profiles in Google Analytics? using the include rule for each section? I’d be curious to see how you would create that expression. Also, if we’re maxed out on # of profiles can we add 2 sections together under 1 profile rule ( + How would we set that up?

    Also, I will need to create separate user log ons to access the data. I’d be curious if you knew if there was a cap.

  • Jonathan

    Amy — By default, you get 50 profiles.

  • Leigh Ann

    I have a question about how bounce rate and exits are calculated for profiles. As Amy G. described above, we have many separate profiles set up within our account — each tracking a certain section of our site. We are finding that the bounce rates calculated within the profile versus those we find when we drill down in the whole-site profile are different. We get higher bounce rates in the individual profile. For example, if we go into a profile that contains a single state (which lives in a specific folder that we filtered on), it might have a bounce rate of 80%. But if we drill down to that state from the whole-site profile, we get a bounce rate of only 70%.

    Is that because GA considers anyone going to a different section/folder on our site to be a bounce or exit from the section/folder that is defined in the profile?

  • Jonathan

    To GA, “bounce” just means “visit with a single pageview”. So if you have profiles that filter out certain pageviews, yes, that will affect the bounce rate.

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