How To Get Access To Google Analytics When You Don’t Know Who Owns It

Here's a common scenario: before you knew any better you had your website created and the developer or an employee set up Google Analytics. Now you have a problem

The employee left along with your access to Google Analytics. What’s worse is that the email the employee used to set it up is from when they were at college and it doesn’t exist anymore. There is absolutely no way to log in.

No worries, Google provides you with recourse in situations like this. It’s hidden deep in their help documentation and if you didn’t know the method you’d probably never find the answer. In fact, a lot of people that work at Google don’t even know this is possible.

Before you start you need to go through a few steps first.

  1. Contact the account owner (if known) and ask them to transfer ownership to you
  2. If that doesn’t work (maybe the owner is unresponsive or you have no idea which email address was used) then it’s time to fill out a form requesting an account transfer. This usually takes 2-7 days and if after 7 days the account owner doesn’t respond then it’s time to go to the next step
  3. If you use a different email domain (maybe it’s @gmail.com) then there’s another hoop to jump through. You must prove that you own the website. How can you do that? Uploading a txt file to the root of your domain would prove it beyond a doubt. This magical file is called analytics.txt and it has a weird format you need to follow to prove ownership

The Analytics.txt Method

  1. Create a plain-text file named analytics.txt
  2. Add this text to the file:
    • GooGhywoiu9839t543j0s7543uw1. Please add {YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS} to GA account UA-{XXXXX or UA-XXX-Y for Property level} with “Manage Users and Edit” permissions – date {INSERT DATE}.
    • So the file would look exactly like this:
    • GooGhywoiu9839t543j0s7543uw1. Please add [email protected] to GA account UA-123456789-1 with “Manage Users and Edit” permissions – date 01/01/2023.
  3. Upload analytics.txt to the root of your domain so it’s accessible at https://example.com/analytics.txt
  4. Fill out this form and wait

Google will contact you and tell you what to do next (if anything) to get access.

Other Considerations

What if your platform is Wix or something that won’t allow you to upload a file to the root? There’s a workaround for that and I’m it’s not legit, but it has worked for me and others multiple times. You basically add a meta tag to the homepage containing the contents of analytics.txt.

This is how I make the meta tag:

<meta name="analytics.txt" content="GooGhywoiu9839t543j0s7543uw1. Please add [email protected] to GA account UA-123456789-1 with “Manage Users and Edit” permissions - date 01/01/2023." />

Google won’t accept this (they wouldn’t even look at it), but with some emails back and forth they will accept a screenshot as proof! That’s right, an easily faked screenshot was all that was needed and this has worked 100% of the time. My clients are happy to get access to their data, but I am a bit worried that Google doesn’t have a better method to deal with this common issue.

Another helpful lifehack is to create a Google Ads account before filling out the contact form (they’ll ask for your ads ID). When filling out the contact form be sure to mention that you need analytics access for your upcoming expensive ads campaign. Google tends to help people that want to give them $$$.

Will this work for GA4? Probably not. As far as we know there isn’t a way to get access to an orphaned GA4 account. I’ll ask Google and see what they say because it will start being an issue in a year or two. I’ll update this article when they respond.

How Google Should Update Their Process

Hey Googlers! I know some of you are actually reading this. Here is some free advice on how to do better…

The analytics.txt method is nice, but accepting screenshots should never work.

Google gives you a handful of ways to verify Search Console, they should do the same for analytics. If you have Search Console verified (or another Google product) then you should be able to get access to analytics. It already works that way to get Search Console access.

Google needs to allow users that are on a non-customizable CMS to get access to their data. A user shouldn’t be left out by Google just because their website platform stinks.

Google needs to make it easier to get analytics access by providing a clearer and more accessible process. This is one of the hardest processes we ever have to go through with Google and we’re experts at this. The documentation is outdated and unclear, and the Google reps aren’t even trained sufficiently. Google should train reps to read and comprehend the issue before sending out the standard unhelpful form response telling the user to perform the steps they’ve already exhausted.

Google is a big company with tons of resources, they really have no excuse here to be so bad at this.

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