Tracking websites that have multiple sub domains may not seem like a complicated thing. In fact, the GA support docs clearly outlines two ways to track sub domains. You can track all sub domains in a single profile or you can track sub domains in separate profiles.
But what if you want more flexibility? What if you want to track one group of sub domains in one profile and a different group of sub domains in another profile? Or what if you want to create new profiles for a different groups of sub domains in the future?
I like to use an approach that let’s you decide how you want to group sub domain traffic. This setup will give you the most flexibility now and in the future. Some of the benefits include:
1. It let’s you collect all data in a master profile. This facilitates ‘roll up’ reporting and gives you an easy way to measure traffic to the primary domain and all of the sub domains.
2. This technique lets you track each individual sub domain in it’s own profile which is useful for deeper analysis.
3. You can easily create new profiles in the future based on groups of sub domains.
Here’s the exact process to get this working.
1. Create Profile for The Primary Domain
The first step is to create a master profile. All other profiles for the website, including profiles for the various sub domains, will be based on this profile. When you enter the domain for the website use the primary website domain. In the example below, I’m using www.sitedomain.com as the website domain.
After creating the profile GA will display the tracking code for the site. Before you add it to your pages it must be modified. You need to force GA to use the primary website domain for the cookie domain. This modification will let you track each unique visitor across all sub domains. This in turn let’s us collect all site data in a single profile and do ‘roll up’ reporting.
Old urchin.js tracking code:
New ga.js tracking code:
Use this profile as a way to measure overall traffic across all of your sub domains. To facilitate page analysis in this profile add a filter that concatenates the hostname to the Request URI, which is the piece of data in the Top Content report. This will help you differentiate traffic to pages with the same URI that may reside on different sub domains.
A handy report that you'll want to use in this profile is the Visitors > Network Properties > Hostnames report. This report will show traffic to the primary domain and all of the sub domains. It's an easy way to compare traffic to the various sub domains.
2. Create Profiles for All Sub Domains
Once you have created the master profile you can start creating profiles for each of the sub domains. Remember, each sub domain profile is based on the master profile, that we created in step 1. Here's how to set up the new profile:
Now that you've created the profile, make sure you add the tracking code to the pages on the sub domain. The tracking code for the sub domain is the same as the tracking code that goes on the primary domain (it's the code from step 1).
3. Add Filters to Sub Domain Profiles
The next step is to add a filter to the sub domain profile so it only contains data for the appropriate sub domain. This is done using an include filter based on the hostname. Once this filter is in place you'll have the master profile which will contain data for all sub domains, and this profile that will contain data for a specific sub domain.
To create additional profiles for other domains just repeat steps 2 and 3. Obviously the settings for the filter used in step 3 will depend on the sub domain that you want to include in the profile.
Creating Additional Profiles
Let's say you need to create a profile for two sub domains: 1.website.com and 2.website.com. This can easily be done because the same tracking code is on both sites. All you need to do is add an include filter with the following settings:
While Google's documentation describes a good way to track sub domains, I think this approach is better due to it's flexibility. Plus, because the same tracking code is used all all sub domains you don't need to worry about placing the wrong tracking code on a sub domain.
Good luck with your setup!