2 Years ago, I decided to learn as much as I could about Google Data Studio.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
Dear reader, I didn’t realize how broken my reporting was. It took me hours to merge all the data from different sources to annotate, paste, move, clip and correct.
At the end of the day, the client doesn’t CARE how long it took you to make the report. The report needs to deliver useful, meaningful and concise metrics and recommendations. Taking all afternoon for one report might sound like a good use of time until you think about it.
If you can reduce the number of dispersed channels and metrics and tracking systems needed to create and deliver your report, you are saving precious moments and making your productivity skyrocket.
Who is this tutorial written for?
Marketers, especially Digital Marketers, need to make informed decisions on ad budget, channels and campaign evaluation. Often in a corporate structure, Marketers need to make a Return on Investment decision before asking for new campaigns or continuing existing marketing campaigns.
But you don’t need to work in a corporate structure to understand the value of clean, accountable data as your source of truth for campaigns. My career as a SEO freelancer has, ostensibly, been helping my clients understand the data that their website sharing with them. Using data, savvy organizations respond and react to market conditions, competitors, product changes and any number of threat and opportunities.
About This Google Data Studio Tutorial
Digital Marketing data can get complicated quickly. My goal is to help my readers and my clients make meaningful decisions based on the data delivered by completing this Google Data Studio Tutorial.
At the end of this Tutorial, if you have added all the connections, you will have your own Google Data Studio Report.
It bears mentioning that our Tutorial is aiming to be through in the setup, creation, and interpretation of your new Google Data Studio Dashboard, but it would be difficult to cover all things Google Data Studio in one write up. We are moving quickly in this Tutorial and can dig deeper in the following conversations.
How do you make an ROI case with Google Data Studio?
When your Google Data Studio and Google Analytics reporting is aligned with your companies most valuable customer interactions online, you can get a bright clear picture of how your site is performing.
Whenever I start working with a client, I work backwards and ask: “What is the most important business interaction that your site could provide that would dramatically improve not just the site, but your whole business?”. Usually leads, customer contact via phone or order placement are among the top answers.
Whatever that goal or conversion might be, we immediately optimize your site with that goal in mind, but we need stellar reporting for these Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). My reporting shares the performance of these high-value KPI’s and I want to help you create a report that shows your site’s most important interactions, laid out plainly.
What is Google Data Studio?
Google Data Studio is a free data visualization platform built by Google. Google states that you can make smarter business decisions using the Google Data Studio Platform and I cannot agree more.
To put it as plainly as possible, the magic of Google Data Studio is that it merges all your Data Sources into one report while splicing the data into customization Metrics and Dimensions.
To use an analogy, Google Data Studio is a food court, just like the one in your town. If Google Data Studio is the food court, then the Data Sources are the individual restaurants and the specific menu items are the Metrics and Dimensions.
By the end of this tutorial, I will have shared with you all the steps needed to make your own PERFECT MEAL at the Data Studio food court. Exactly what you want on the plate, and you can get each entrée or appetizer you want without driving across town!
Benefits of Google Data Studio
The beauty of Google Data Studio is when you add all your data into one place, you can see everything at once. Many marketers have data from many different sources, and it creates a fragmented view of your marketing efforts. Google Data Studio aims to end this!
Google Data Studio Templates
Google has a gallery of Google Data Studio Templates that have been submitted by the community. Although some of these reports are good, I ultimately had to create my own Google Data Studio Template.
You can view the Google Data Studio Report Gallery.
Grab our custom Google Data Studio Template, built for Digital Marketers like you.
Setting up Your Custom Google Data Studio Dashboard
Whether you download our report or create your own, creating your own Custom Google Data Studio Dashboard isn’t impossible. As you get more familiar with Google Data Studio, you will find that your current reporting is limited, and your needs will outgrow your current data studio dashboard.
In our Google Data Studio Tutorial, we are assuming that you’ve grabbed our custom template, but you can follow along with any Data Studio report.
Download Our Custom Data Studio Template
Grab our custom report so you can get great marketing data all in one place or follow along this tutorial with any other Google Data Studio Dashboard.
Our Custom Data Studio Template
Our Google Data Studio Dashboard is created with the feedback of our clients and has been adapted to serve the needs of any Digital Marketers. We wanted to build a solid template that every Digital Marketer would find valuable. Adapting your reporting to every client is the benefit of Google Data Studio, but we think our Google Data Studio Template is a great place to start.
Our Google Data Studio Dashboard incorporates Pay Per Click, Social Media, Google My Business Local and Free Metrics from Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Some of these are free, while others are paid connections. A Brief table of Contents is below and we will indicate whether a page on our Google Data Studio Report is free or a paid Data Source.
Our Google Data Studio Template Table of Contents
Keep in mind that not all of these will apply to your site or business. We have over-included connections, so you can adapt this template to your own liking. We will briefly go over customization of this dashboard in the later part of this tutorial.
- Summary – A Place to Put your Monthly Notes, Findings and Success Stories
- Organic Traffic – Free Data from Google Analytics
- All Traffic – Free Data from Google Analytics
- Referral Traffic and Time of Day – Free Data from Google Analytics
- On Page – Devices and Landing Pages – Free Data from Google Search Console
- Site Speed Performance – Free Data from Google Analytics
- Local Signals – Google My Business Data via Supermetrics (Paid Data Source)
- Conversions – Free Data from Google Analytics
- PPC Performance – Free Data from Google Ads – You need an Active Google Ads Campaign
- Facebook Insights – Facebook User Data via Supermetrics (Paid Data Source)
- Keywords – A place for a .CSV file showing the rankings of your site from your favorite Rank Tracker
Connect your Google Account
GIF Video – 1909 – GDS Tutorial – Login REDO
As soon as you get your report or once you login into Google Data Studio, you will be prompted to share your Google Account. Please accept and remember which Google Account you have used, you will want the same one that you use to check your Analytics, Google Ads and any other Google Properties.
Again, let me repeat, you will save a lot of heartache and reconfiguring if you are accessing your Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Ads with the same Google Account you are using for Google Data studio. This takes care of the access issue, since your Google account already has access to Analytics, Search Console and Google Ads, we don’t need to go back and request access.
Once we have added your Google Account to Google Data Studio, we can continue. We will access your Google Data Studio through your Google Account each time.
As mentioned above, the magic of Google Data Studio happens when you combine the data of your Data Sources and define the data that you want in your tables, charts, graphs and score cards by adding your Metrics and Dimensions.
A Data Source in Google Data Studio is a connection to an external body of data.
There are hundreds of Data Sources in Google Data Studio. Some of them are free and some of them are paid.
In this Google Data Studio Tutorial, I am going to primarily the familiar Data Sources. We will go over how to connect your Google Properties (Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Google Ads) as well as some of my Favorite paid Data Sources which will grab more data sources of your Data Studio Dashboard.
Before we wow your teammates and clients, let’s talk about adding new Connections ins Google Data Studio.
Paid Data Sources
Our Google Data Studio Master Template has some Premium Pages that require a Supermetrics Connection. If aren’t interested in these pages, delete the pages from the report.
If you are interested in learning how to import you Google My Business Data or see your Social Media metrics, consider a membership to Supermetrics. My clients find this data invaluable.
*Disclosure* TopSailDigital is an affiliate of Supermetrics. We receive a commission if you sign up. We are so confident in their product and level of support, we know you will love it too.
As mentioned above, Supermetrics is a paid Data Studio Connection. Please delete any unwanted pages or widgets after taking a look.
I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think this Data wasn’t valuable. Signing up for Supermetrics is easy and fast. Please use your Google Account that you have all of your Data Studio Connections registered.
What the Benefit of Supermetrics?
Supermetrics connects our Reporting with APIs across the web from Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and others.
For Local Business Owners, Supermetrics can take your Google My Business Metrics and add them to your reporting. Phone Calls, Map Requests and more can easier be displayed in charts or graphs.
For both Social Media Analysts and Local Business owners, our Google Data Studio Dashboard has these premium connections built in. Delete Pages 8 and 12 if you do not need them.
SEO Keyword Tracker
For you to get the most out of this page, Please have the export of your favorite rank tracker, like from Ahref’s Rank tracker, in .CSV format. We will cover how to add this data to your report (See, but technically, you will need to have that export data from a paid SEO tool like Moz, Ahrefs, SEMRush or others.
Connecting Data Sources
Connecting Data Sources is easy in Google Data Studio. Use the same account to access your Google Analytics, Search Console and Ad Words (if applicable) just like we did when we logged into Data Studio. We have already gone through the validation steps of adding Data Sources because the Google Account Connect is so similar.
I will demonstrate how to add your 1st Data Source to this report. Let’s Add Google Analytics to your Data Studio Report.
Connecting your Data Sources all at once with our Template
When you start our Google Data Template, do not worry if it’s asking to connect a bunch of connections that you may or may not know what they are. These are all the active Data Sources that are currently in your report.
Again, we are offering our full Data Studio Template with some Paid Supermetrics Connections, but you can delete those if you decide not to include them. The Pages with Paid Supermetrics Connections are: Page 8 and 12.
Connect Google Analytic
Watch this GIF to see how I added a Google Analytics Data Source to my Report. Be sure to choose the view that you would like to be imported into your report (usually “ALL SITE DATA” or similar).
Also, each time you get a new Data Source added, you will see the Metrics and Dimensions being listed with Blue and Green boxes before you confirm. You don’t need to adjust these values for now, just confirm.
Why do we want to Import our Google Analytics Data?
We have talked about Metrics that Matter in Google Analytics, in previous posts. But for those who don’t know already, Google Analytics allows us to track all the interactions that occur on your site. With Google Analytics, you can see all the sessions, visits and create custom goals to track your site performance.
With Google Analytics Connected, we can start to see your live data populate the charts.
Connect Search Console
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Google Search Console is a webmaster’s best friend. Although Google Search Console was recently updated and omitted some of the technical fix settings, Google Search Console is still helpful with Microdata, Website Errors, Site Visibility Reporting and much more.
In our Custom Google Data Studio Dashboard, Google Search Console Data creates table for Landing Page Engagement, Devise Usage and a few other widgets on Page 6.
Adding your Search Console Data is easy. If you haven’t connected it already using our Template, go to “Create a Data Source” and follow the steps to add your Search Console Data.
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Google Ads is the platform for bidding on keywords to entice would be visitors to your site. TopSailDigital helps our customers build and maintain custom Google Ads Campaigns, so we want to be able to share our Google Ads metrics with our clients.
If you are running Google Ads, having your Cost Per Click, Clicks, Impressions and all of your Google Ads data in one spot is important to your PPC Reporting.
As we have added our Google Analytics and Google Search Console Data Sources, we can add our Google Ads Data if you haven’t done so already using our template.
.CSV File Imports
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We have just scratched the surface on Google Data capabilities, but we did mention Keyword Tracking. Page 12 of the Report is used to import your keyword ranking data from your favorite Keyword Tracker such as Ahrefs, SEMRush or AWR Cloud and puts that .CSV data in a nice table.
If you do not have a Keyword Tracker with .CSV exports available, you can delete this page. It bears mentioning that you can use the .CSV File Import Connection for any type of data to make a chart
IMAGE – Supermetrics Connection Photos
As mentioned above, there are hundreds of connections that can upgrade your Google Data Studio Dashboard by gathering data from APIs and Sources across the web. Our Default Google Data Studio Template has a few extra connectors that you can delete.
Those premium Data Sources are located on Page 8 and Page 12 of our Template. You can delete those Supermetrics-provided Data Sources if you aren’t interested. We are going to explain our favorite External Data Sources.
For each of these connections, you will Authorize your Google Account via Supermetrics and Add these Sources to your Report by going to “Create a Data Source” and Searching for The Supermetrics Connection you would like.
Google My Business
IMAGE – show Local Signals
If you provide Digital Marketing for a local, brick and mortar business. This chart is great for viewing how much Google My Business is providing for your Business. Google My Business Data is on page 8.
The Local Signals Page on Page 8 provides Phone Calls, Visits, and other awesome Google My Business Metrics by using Supermetrics to pull that data.
IMAGE – show Facebook engagement
For some businesses, Facebook is a place to connect with their audience. Measure your Facebook engagement and see your top posts in one easy to read dashboard.