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When I administer my Google Analytics account, I have an option to create a profile, or to add an account. What's the difference between those options? Are they merely different ways to organize a variety of sites being tracked?

I currently have four sites listed, each with an Add new profile link next to it. I'm wondering what purpose the feature serves.

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To put it simply, an account contains a collection of profiles. Note, if you have a simple website, you can probably get by without creating profiles. Profiles exist to let you do two important things.

  1. Separate out information about specific web properties, like your blog...
  2. Apply different rules and criteria for advanced analysis...

source: Monday Back to Basics: Accounts vs Profiles

Profiles are useful for getting analytics reports on a specific group of visitors; new visitors only, for example. You can have a separate profile, and thus a separate report based on visits only from new visitors.

Profiles can also be used to track multiple (sub) sites with a single account. Note that if you track different web sites with the same account, the accumulated data cannot be separated into two accounts later. One significant result of this: if you give someone admin access to one profile, they get admin access to all the other profiles in that account (you can still limit read-only access to a single profile).

Some more detailed info: Accounts and Profiles

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Thanks for the picture and links - they were very helpful. –  Grant Palin Nov 8 '10 at 5:20
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Yes, I think they accounts are used to group closely-related website profiles. Personally, I keep separate accounts for each of my clients, each with one or more profiles for my clients' website(s). Also, remember that administrators have access to all the profiles in an account, so using separate accounts for each client is a good way to give them admin access to their websites' profiles without also giving them access to other clients' traffic data.

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