The Pain-Free Way to Manage and Share Google Accounts
So one of your employees or agency partners has requested access to your Google Analytics account. “Easy!” You think to yourself as you log into your Admin panel and navigate to Account User Management, “I’ll just add their email address to my account and grant them permission to view the data.”
Not so fast. If having access to this data is a necessary part of someone’s job, there’s a good chance they also need to access some of your other Google accounts. This may include:
- Search Console
- Google Ads
- Google AdSense
- Google Merchant Center
- Google My Business
- Google Tag Manager
To run a Google Shopping campaign, for example, a specialist would need accounts with Google Merchant Center, Google Ads, Google Analytics and Search Console.
While sharing individual account permissions with employees is a headache, sharing them with an agency can cause a full-blown migraine. The more back-and-forths there are about accounts and access, the more room there is for glitches and communication delays.
So why don’t most businesses just use a single account to manage all of their other Google accounts? The problem is, many of them do — it just happens to be the business owner’s personal gmail account or another important email address. When that’s the case and an agency requests access, the business owner is often (understandably) reluctant, knowing they’re giving the agency access to out-of-scope, sensitive information at the same time.
Not to worry. A few simple steps will have you set up for smooth sharing in no time:
1. Create a New Gmail Account Strictly to Manage Campaigns and Data
If you haven’t set up Google Analytics or your other Google accounts yet:
You’re in a lucky position. Before you take another step, create your business’s master campaign-related gmail account now. As long as the address ends with @gmail.com, you can set up as many gmail accounts as you want to for free. If you want a custom email that uses your domain extension (ie, for the site www.myfancypants.com, your email address would be email@example.com), you can set up a G Suite account starting at $12/month.
If you already have your email hosting set up through another provider (you and your employees use @myfancypants.com email addresses already), continue with your provider and use the free version of gmail to set up your account. You won’t be sending or receiving non-routine emails from this account, so there’s no need for a fancy(pants) domain extension.
No email hosting yet? We highly recommend getting started with G Suite or another provider now. This will allow you and all your employees to conduct business from @myfancypants.com email addresses, instantly leveling up the legitimacy and trustworthiness of your business. Don’t put this off! Before you can afford expenses like employees or digital marketing services, you should be able to afford the relatively minor cost of dedicated email hosting.
If you’ve already set up Google Analytics or another account using a different email address:
Set up this separate account anyway, then either share permissions or transfer ownership. You’ll still be able to use the new account as a main hub that’s connected to all your other accounts, significantly reducing the hassle of managing individual permissions.
Once your campaign/Analytics-related email account is set up, do not use it to communicate with customers, employees, your spouse, your dentist, or anyone else. In most cases there’s no need to use the Google Docs or Calendar features either. Set this account up knowing you’ll be granting access to anyone who needs it, and let it house the minimum amount of information necessary for managing the other accounts.
2. Set Up Your Relevant Google Accounts
You won’t always know which other Google-related accounts you’ll need, and that’s okay. The safe money is on Google Analytics and Search Console at least, so set those up using your newly-minted gmail account if you want to get a jump start. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- Google’s free Analytics Academy
- How to Set Up Google Analytics & Search Console on Shopify
- A Beginner’s Guide to Search Console
Would you rather let your agency partner or an employee set up the necessary accounts? Easy peasy — just share the login information to your master account and they can take care of the task on your behalf.
3. Update User Permissions
Once your accounts are set up, make sure the email account you personally use to conduct business is granted permission as an Admin. This will make it easy for you to view the accounts whenever you want without logging into the master account first.
Worried about security? Tell the person setting up your accounts that they can add themselves as a user (through their employee or agency email address) as part of the setup process. Once they confirm they’ve set up what they need and have added themselves to all pertinent accounts, change the password of your master account. You want your master email address to be the owner of these accounts so you can keep everything consolidated, but it doesn’t need to be the sole administrator, editor or user.
4. Manage Your Risk
From a security standpoint, it’s not a best practice to let multiple people have the same login information to the same account — but in this instance, it’s the swiftest way to make things happen.
If you’re a large or enterprise business, set up a paid account with a password manager like Lastpass to let select people use the password without being able to see what it is. This prevents them from sharing the password, and they’ll lose their ability to access the account if you revoke their permission in Lastpass.
Small- and medium-sized businesses also can’t go wrong with a password manager, or you can take a few extra precautions to keep your account safe:
- Change your master account’s password every time an employee leaves or you discontinue an agency relationship, and have a smooth system for notifying relevant people of the change.
- Follow the Principle of Least Privilege, which dictates that individuals are only given the permission level they need to perform their job correctly. Someone who only needs to view Analytics data, for example, wouldn’t need Admin privileges unless they’re also managing the account.
- Stay aware of the accounts that are associated with your business. There’s nothing worse than trying to register your business on a review or local listing site only to learn that a) your business is already registered, and b) you have no idea who to track down for the login information.
Using a password manager or secure document, keep a running list of the accounts you and others have set up for your business. If you’re a local business building out your citations on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List, you might also consider using a platform like BrightLocal to streamline that messy process as much as possible.
- Use your master account’s password anywhere else. While it’s always a best practice to never use the same password twice, it’s especially important here. No password you give away should double as a skeleton key.
- Be afraid to revoke permissions. On the agency end, we only need your master account’s information so we can set up or log into various Google accounts, at which point we’ll give our agency-side email permission to view or manage those accounts. Once we’ve taken care of this for all pertinent accounts, feel free to revoke our access to the master account (just double-check with your specialists first!).
- Let accounts walk away with their creator. It’s a tale as old as time: a well-meaning employee or agency sets up an account on your behalf, only to leave without handing off the login information. Stay active in your strategy to the extent that you always understand what accounts are created and why, and never let an agency have sole top-level access to any of your Google accounts or social media accounts.
This is another reason why it’s useful to have a master account. If someone wants to make an account on behalf of your business, they can use your master account and virtually guarantee the login rights stay with you if they leave.
And of course, don’t hesitate to ask for help! If you’re working with Grow With Studio, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know so we can help you run your campaigns while you control the access. Reach out to us with any questions and we’ll get back to you as fast as we can.
About The Author: Meg Nanson
Meg Nanson is Grow With Studio's Content Strategist and Wordsmith-at-Large. She comes fully-equipped with 8 years of experience in content strategy & SEO, and has helped businesses of every size find their voice and scale their organic strategies.
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