How to Change a Website’s Domain in Google Analytics

By Ned Wells, 13th November 2012
 

When we audit a client’s website for the first time, we quite often find that although the site is on a ‘www’ domain, their Google Analytics (GA) profile has been set up on the ‘http’ version of the domain.

And if the site’s been set up properly and http redirects to www – or vice versa – this can cause problems: because GA sees the ‘www’ and ‘http’ versions of the site as two different websites.

The problems that this creates aren’t huge: in fact GA works fine across the two versions of the site in all areas except for In-Page Analytics. To be honest, I don’t use In-Page Analytics much, but it can provide additional nuggets of information to help paint a full picture of a website.

Google Analytics best practice

It’s worth noting that no single report, statistic or dimension can tell the whole story about your website’s health. Best practice is therefore more about bringing lots of things together to tell the story. And then combining them in a way that helps you to make informed judgements and invest your hard-earned marketing budget as wisely as possible.

Some history

In mid 2012 we came across this situation with one of our large charity clients: the site was set up on the http://www domain, GA was implemented to http://

I wanted to correct it, so we could see what insights might be offered by In-Page Analytics. I’ve known for a while that it’s possible to change the domain settings in GA but I’ve not been sure whether it would lead to historical data being deleted from the account. I could find just one good clear article on the subject, by Anna Lewis from Koozai.

Anna does a great job of explaining the topic, but as hers was the only good article I could find, and the stakes were high if we lost the client’s historical data, potentially loosing 2 years+ of tracking data, I decided not to make the change.

Fast forward to November 2012

In November 2012 we reviewed our new client’s website Silver Bee and found that the site was at www.silverbee.co.uk and GA was set up on http://silverbee.co.uk.

We wanted to review In-Page Analytics because, as an e-commerce site, we were interested in how much of a product page could be seen ‘above the fold’. Since the site was very new and GA has only a few weeks data in it, the client allowed us to reset the domain and see what happens.

We did this by following Anna’s excellent article. GA had slightly evolved since she wrote it so here’s the process I took:

Update Domain URL in Google Analytics

  1. From your Account Home page – the very first one you get to in GA – select the property you wish to edit
  2. From the top right corner of the page, click ‘Admin’ – in the orange bar
  3. Select ‘Property Settings’
  4. Change the ‘Default URL’ from http://yourdomain.co.uk to http://www.yourdomain.co.uk
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page to apply the changes
  6. Bonus point: before clicking ‘Apply’ you can connect up your Google Webmaster Tools account if you haven’t done so already.

Now go back up to the top of the page and click ‘Standard Reporting’. You’ll see all the historical data still in there.

Update Google Analytics Profile Names

  1. From the top right hand corner click ‘Admin’ – in the orange bar.. same as last time
  2. Select the profile name – if you have more than one you’ll need to do this for all of them
  3. Select ‘Profile Settings’
  4. Change the website’s URL from http://yourdomain.co.uk to http://www.yourdomain.co.uk
  5. Scroll to the bottom and click ‘Apply’
  6. Bonus point: if you’ve found that, although your site has site search, the data is not feeding into GA, there’s a setting on this page that needs to be enabled.

And… you’re done. With no loss of historical data.

We’d love to hear your experiences of changing domain names in Google Analytics, let us know in the comments below.

If you’d like to read more about Google Analytics, you can do so by visiting our blog category on Google Analytics best practice.

 

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27 Responses to “How to Change a Website’s Domain in Google Analytics”

  1. Tommy says:

    Brilliant article! Just what I needed – up-to-date, straight to the point and answered my own worries perfectly.

    Thanks!

  2. Tx36 says:

    I was just looking for this.. :) And as Tommy said this is the exact answer i needed :)

    Thanks a lot.. :)

  3. Emily Lutz says:

    This was hugely helpful! Thank you!!!

  4. Jesse Tom says:

    Hi there,
    I am moving my domain, and i have been to the Google webmaster tools. Have redirected my old domain to the new one. Question; do i have to sign up for another analytics code for the new domain or just stick to the old one?
    If yes or no how do how do maintain the old results and do it the simpler way?
    Are you talking about the same thing?
    thanks.

  5. This worked like a champ. Thanks!!

    - @newfirewithin

  6. stef says:

    Thanks so much!

    Simple, straightforward, success! yay!

  7. Jeet says:

    Bull’s eye! Thanks heaps!

  8. Pete says:

    Great – to the point, easy to follow and managed to get it done really quickly. Much better than instructions on other sites.

    Thanks

  9. Jacob Y. says:

    Worked like a charm! Very well written, straight to the point.

    I was freaking out before I read this article thinking that I’d have to export all of my historical data so as not to lose it.

    Thanks for saving me hours of work!

  10. Vinayak says:

    Hi Ned,

    Good post.. we already have done mentioned changes in URLs in settings at account as well
    as profile level. though analytics is not tracking any traffic from the website.

    Please suggest what might have gone wrong.

    Thanks
    Vinayak

    • Ned Wells says:

      Hi Vinayak, good to hear from you.

      Difficult for me to assess what might be going on unless I can access your Google Analytics. If you don’t mind giving me access (use ned dot wells at gmail dot com) I’d be happy to take a quick look.

      Thanks,
      Ned

  11. Srini says:

    Hi Ned,

    Your article is excellent. I need one more help. Can you advise please.

    Our current site is http://www.mysite.com (Just Example) and we have a profile created in GA with domain name set as .mysite.com in tracking script.

    Now we are changing the domain to https://mysite.abc.xyz.com. How to address the change in GA with no impact on tracking.

    Thanks
    Srini

  12. Srini says:

    Hi Ned

    Sorry i missed to mention one more important point. Both the URLs will exist and we are planning to do the redirection from http://www.mysite.com to https://mysite.abc.xyz.com and i want to track both under the existing profile.

    Note: Due to company policies, i have not mentioned the site name i have given mysite.com for example purpose.

    Thanks
    Srini

  13. Dave Canham says:

    Great article just what I was looking for. Worth noting that Google Analytics have renamed “Profiles” to “Views”, in case anyone was confused when reading the section about updating profile settings.

  14. zaid says:

    hey thank you very very much.

  15. I was actually always wondering how this is done, you explained very easily, Thank you! :p

  16. Anju Yadav says:

    Hi Ned,

    I want to change default from http:// to https:// so should i change directly in default in property setting ? Is there any chances to lose historical data after changing http:// to https:// .Please help me out with same. Thanks

  17. John says:

    Very helpful thanks and also to Dave for the update.

  18. Greg says:

    Ned, our company changed our name and so also our website domain recently. It is essentially the same site, just updated branding and domain. We would like to keep our GA history from the old site but now track the new site (including forwards from the old domain). Any suggestions? Can you point me to a resource that can help me?

    Thanks.

    • Ned Wells says:

      Hi Greg,

      You should be able to do this by just changing the URL within Google Analytics, and using the UA code from the old site. Make sure the UA code is only on one site, ie either the old, or the new. Hope that’s helpful!

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