I’m way overdue with this, but I always keep in mind a Chinese proverb our CEO Michelle used to have in her email signature: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” That being said, Google’s Data Studio has been mentioned to me multiple times in the past couple of months. The people I’ve talked with rave about it.
To start, it’s introduced as a free product that can help you better understand data, gather insights, and create excellent reports. For me, that says: ‘Take data from Google analytics (or other sources), work with it to acquire the most useful information and create visuals, develop action items that will help a brand perform better online, create reports that are easy for businesses to understand, and instill confidence in your plan and efforts. I came to find out that it essentially eliminates steps and allows you to do all of this in one place.
By the end of this blog post, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to utilize Google Data Studio on a regular basis to the benefit of our clients (or your own business!)
Let’s get to it.
When you’re logged in with a Google account at https://datastudio.google.com there are a few things you see: Start a new report (blank, based off of analytics, search console, or Google Ads), a welcome item you’re supposed to start with, and a side navigation that offers a variety of options. I started with the recommended “Start here” that takes you to a sample report and walks you through some features. These are some key items that stuck out to me:
- The reports can be really interactive, and have layers. So, you may have a graph, and you can add a post it note nearby explain that it’s interactive (ex: you can mouse over to find data points on a graph), or explaining it in general
- You can have multiple data sources. EX: Google Analytics and data from a Google Sheet
- There are a lot of tools to help you style, add, and adjust charts. They’re simple to use
- If something seems like it might not be working, you may be in view mode, not edit
- You can filter data to help pinpoint specific data sets
- As I get into this, I can summarize the above and what I’m seeing about Data Studio: There are a TON of chart/table/graph styles, styling, and data input options
- You can easily share data, similar to other Google products, set edit/view permissions, and create a shareable link. You can also make it public, so anybody with the link can view or edit it
- You can add analytics codes to the reports and track them
- I experienced some glitches with this. For example I adjusted the data range, and I had to refresh the page to get the date range box to show the change
This walk-through was essentially a tutorial. I recommend going through it. It helps you get familiar with the functionality, along with a bit of guidance to help you learn about key functions.
Creating Reports and Turning Data into Visuals
As a next step to the tutorial, I thought I’d walk through creating a report with Analytics. Let’s say I have a client who’s interested in seeing how things are progressing. I’ll use the “Acme Marketing Google Analytics” template at the top of the dashboard. When you switch the data source, everything in the report updates. Once you connect the data, everything fills in, and you can make adjustments if you’d like to. In this case with the hypothetical client, perhaps we’d want to eliminate the top countries and add in a bar graph for the number of keywords ranking in the top 50 by month in 2018 (compared to 2017.) We could also add a comparison feature to the channels section—or any kind of data you may feel would showcase progress. The possibilities are endless given the fact that you can pull from Analytics, Search Console, or even custom data points from a spreadsheet.
My first thought when I saw this was that I’d like to make a template that I could use for most of my clients. Over time, I could customize it to the liking of each particular client, essentially giving each client their own template. From there the reporting process would be unique, automated, and thorough. This would make clients happier, deliver more transparency, and save a lot of time. I think this could be applied to anyone reading this who plans to utilize Data Studio, whether you’re managing clients or visualizing data for your own business.
Of course another option is to start from scratch, and pull in charts, tables, graphs, images and more as you wish.
I’m really only scratching the surface here. Starting with the basics from this post, then really diving in, you can bring data to life. Bringing that data to life will have a number of residual benefits.
How Data Studio Can Help Business
We’ve all been in one or all of the following situations where the boss or a client is asking: “Are more people visiting the website?” “Have we grown our online presence” “How do I know we’re headed in the right direction?” All of these are warranted questions, and we can give them an answer. As an SEO, it can be difficult to give that answer without using terminology that may be confusing to a client. With Data Studio you can make everything you’re trying to explain a visual, and streamline your reporting process. A Data Studio report accompanied by a brief email or a presentation, especially if it’s a regular happening, will keep you and your clients on the same page, and confident in the SEO process.
Google also has provided several tutorial videos
If your plate is already full, perhaps you’re looking for someone to help you get more out of your data and further infiltrate the search results with SEO. Consider contacting us to discuss your online presence, and how it can be improved.