How to use Google Data Studio depending on your project type

Merche Martínez

Written by Merche Martínez

Google Data Studio is an online tool allowing us to create dashboards and dynamic reports by obtaining data from various sources, which we can define using the following connectors:

Google Data Studio Connectors

Although we can use this tool for tons of different purposes, in this post we are going to focus on web projects for which Data Studio can be useful.

Google Data Studio for E-commerce

One of the most interesting Google Data Studio dashboard uses is for e-commerce stores, with data obtained from Google Analytics. This data could also be compared to that of our online store’s data base, if it’s on MySQL. This dashboard could be composed of the following information:

  • Transactions (GA): orders registered in the Google Analytics e-commerce section.
  • Conversion rate (GA): percentage of sessions generated by an e-commerce transaction in Google Analytics.
  • List of top-selling products (GA)
  • Real sales (MySQL): completed orders registered by the MySQL data base of the e-commerce store.
  • Average order value (MySQL and GA): this information can be obtained from two sources, MySQL and Google Analytics.
  • Returns (MySQL)
  • Revenue (MySQL and GA)
  • Transactions by device (GA)
  • Abandoned shopping baskets (MySQL)
  • List of users with most orders (MySQL)

E-commerce data in Google Data Studio

We can also include in our report the visibility of relevant keywords. In this case, these could be the primary products or categories on our store. We can include our rankings in the organic search results, which can be extracted from Google Search Console.

Top selling products in Data Studio

If you manage PPC campaigns, you can also include Google AdWords campaign evolution data:

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • CTR (Click-through Rate)
  • CPC (Cost per Clic)

The following screen capture shows an example of a dashboard provided by Google Data Studio, monitoring an e-commerce PPC campaign.

Google Data Studio PPC e-commerce

Google Data Studio for media websites

If you’re interested in monitoring the SEO of a media website, Google Data Studio provides you with the possibility to generate a report with specific data, like new users, recurring users and traffic towards the main sections. You can get this data off Google Analytics. You could be also interested in seeing the evolution of your rankings for target keywords. This information can be obtained from Google Search Console.

Google Data Studio for media websiteMonitoring a blog with Google Data Studio

Now, let’s apply our smart dashboards generated using Google Data Studio to monitoring a blog. In this case we could be interested in following up on:

  • Posts generating more traffic (GA)
  • Geographic location of sessions (GA)
  • Monitoring main categories (GSC): we can get this from Google Search Console’s search queries.

Most visited posts in GSC

Keyword visibility by blog category

And what happens with data from other tools?

It is true that one of the things we miss the most is the possibility to use other data sources. In this case, we are given the option to link our dash with a Google Sheet, where we have previously poured all necessary data.

Google Sheets is just another data source for Google Data Studio, and we can display this information using whichever chart type we find more helpful: circular charts, time series, bar charts, tables, geographic maps…

In the following examples we will show you how it’s possible to use Google Sheets for reports in Google Data Studio extracting data from Sistrix and SEMrush.

Using Sistrix data in Google Data Studio

Here’s an example of how data provided by Sistrix can be processed in Google Data Studio. First, we will need to create a sheet that will serve as a data source for the tool.

Sistrix data import

Once this sheet is all set and ready, we will create a new data source in Google Data Studio, using the sheet we’ve just created as a connector. And voilà! You can now see all this data in Google Data Studio reports.

Google Data Studio Sistrix data

Using SEMrush data in Google Data Studio

We will follow the exact same procedure with the SEMrush tool. In this case, we will extract traffic, keyword ranking in the Top 10 search results, and total number of keywords.

Semrush data importOnce we’ve imported this data into our spreadsheet, the following example shows a time series chart with the traffic evolution over a period of time.

Sistrix data in Google Data StudioGoogle Data Studio v. Google Analytics dashboards

One of the first things that caught my attention when using this tool was how similar it was to one of Google Analytics’ features, namely its ‘dashboards’.

Google Analytics dashboards enable us to create very interesting and comprehensive monitoring reports. If you have a small website, and you only want data monitored by Google Analytics, then this would be the best choice for you.

However, if you want to study a website with many different views, you would need to create a dashboard for each view. In this scenario, Google Data Studio can prove to be incredibly useful.

A good example of this would be a website with several different language versions, like Spanish and English. The Spanish version would have its own Google Analytics dashboard, and the English version would have another one. If we use Google Data Studio, however, we can compare both data sources in one unique report.

Pros and cons of using Google Data Studio

Given my personal experience of using this tool, I think it’s a very valid option for generating reports. Although, it must be said, I’ve detected some positive and negative points derived from its use.

Things, which I think are valuable:

  • Updated data: being able to generate reports using updated information is good for monitoring a web project. It’s convenient and useful, because we can check everything in just one tool. Moreover, the date and time selector is flexible, and we can choose a specific date or the last 7, 14 or 28 days, the past month and several other options.
  • Data chart comparisons: as I’ve mentioned previously, this tool’s main strength is the possibility to compare on the same sheet equivalent data from several Google Analytics views. If you’re an SEO consultant such as myself, it can prove to be useful to unify organic traffic from different projects in the same report.
  • Time saving: time is money, and based on the previous points, you can deduce how using this tool can save us valuable time because we don’t need to check information scattered across various sources daily.
  • User guide: just as with any other Google tool, we can count on having a thorough user guide translated to several languages, where all features are explained and usage examples are provided. You can see it here.
  • Sharing: one of Google Data Studio’s best features, in my opinion, is being able to share your reports with third parties. It is also possible to invite other users to contribute, giving them permission to only view the report, or to edit it, as well. An interesting example of this feature would be to create a collaborative report with different professionals: SEO, social media, PPC, etc. Each party can create their own dashboards and contribute to making the report more valuable overall.

Now, for the negative aspects:

  • Historical data loss: in this particular case, one of the advantages of this tool is also a negative thing. Certain tools, namely Google Search Console, has limited historical data, that for the time being is set on 90 days. If we want to gather information over time, we have to manually save the data provided by this tool.
  • Limited sources of data: it’s a Google tool, and obviously its connectors are what they are. It would be great to be able to link Data Studio to other tools, but since that’s not possible, we can use the trick I mentioned earlier, by importing data from external tools into a spreadsheet.
  • Limited features: personally, I miss being able to include comparisons in tables. Even though we can connect the dashboard to Google Search Console, we can’t obtain much information from this tool. It’s still a beta version, although it has notably evolved over the last few months. Perhaps in time these deficiencies will be solved.

With all this information in hand, I think Google Data Studio is a great resource to keep in mind for generating reports, data comparisons, and for monitoring a web project’s evolution.

I am aware I still have many more things to explore in this tool, and I will go on discovering. Any comments or advice from practical experience are welcome.

Merche Martínez
Autor: Merche Martínez
SEO consultant at the Human Level online marketing agency. She's an expert in search engine optimization at both national and international levels. She's also a certified Google AdWords user.

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