How To Recover A Google Analytics Account

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Recently, when starting an SEO engagement, we requested permission to access to the client’s Google Analytics account. One problem though. They could not remember who set up their account nor how to access it. We’ve actually bumped into this situation a few times, and it’s understandable given how many different people could logically do this for an organization. Could be marketing…could be IT…it could be a 3rd party. All possible targets. With turnover in any of these roles, without having good systems in place to track these accounts, user credentials can easily get lost. Given that, we thought we’d walk through the steps required if you ever need to recover a Google Analytics account.

Confirm You Have GA Installed On Your Site

The first thing you need to do is confirm if you have an Analytics Tracking ID installed on your site. In our example, we already knew the account existed, but many customers are unaware. The easiest way to do this is by viewing the Page Source on a page from your site. If Analytics is installed, the code will be visible from this Page Source view. To view the page source, navigate to your site in any browser, right click on the page and select View Source from the options available.

Once you have loaded the Page Source, you need to search for your Tracking ID. Using the browsers Find function (Cntrl+F) search for the following terms one by one and see if you get a match:

  • UA-
  • ga.js
  • analytics.js
  • GTM

Locked Out of Google Analytics

If you don’t get a match on any of these searches, then even if you have an existing analytics account, the Tracking ID hasn’t been added to your website. If you do get a match (this is the scenario we are interested in), then now you need to determine if you have access to an account that administers the ID.

OK My Site Has An ID But I Don’t Know How To Access It

There is no specific process to use in order to navigate this step. You simply need to try to track down any and all email accounts that may have set this ID up and attempt to login to Google Analytics with those user credentials. Research any logical possibilities, including:

  • Current employees: (contact your marketing department, IT staff, etc)
  • 3rd parties (ad agencies, web developers, IT support)
  • Terminated employees

Also, search your email history for terms like Analytics or UA and see if you get any results. Check your own email accounts and see if you possibly set up the account but do not remember. If you get lucky here, then this will work, and you are good to go. If not, then it’s time to contact Google.

Use The Google Analytics Troubleshooter

In the event that you could not locate the authorized account, Google has a process to allow you to regain access to an existing Analytics account via the Google Analytics Troubleshooter. It includes the following steps, which requires access to your website hosting environment (typically via FTP):

1) Create a txt file called analytics.txt file with the following information:

GooGhywoiu9839t543j0s7543uw1 – pls add {INSERT EMAIL ADDRESS} to GA account {INSERT UA-ID} with ‘Manage Users and Edit’ permissions – date {INSERT DATE}.

2) Add the analytics.txt file to the top-level domain, e.g., example.com/analytics.txt

If the URL of the site that is sending data to Analytics is a subdomain, then you can upload analytics.txt to either the subdomain or the top-level domain, for example:

sales.example.com/analytics.txt or example.com/analytics.txt

Once you have added this file, the last step is to use the Troubleshooter contact form to request access be granted to your chosen email address. That’s it. Now you just need to wait for Google support to respond to your request. The entire process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending upon your back and forth with the support team.

Does This Always Work?

If you can prove ownership of your site, and the Analytics ID exists, then yes it does. However, there are rare instances where you may need to create a new ID. In the case of our client, unfortunately, this was the case. Google confirmed that the previously established Analytics property had been deleted by an authorized administrator, forcing us to start over with a new ID.


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