From the start, this is not an entry-level article on how to create an SEO Dashboard using Data Studio. There are already a few well-organized guides to get you started with it (that helped me A LOT in the early days), and here are a few to get you started:
- How to build an SEO dashboard in Google Data Studio
- How To Build A Complete SEO Dashboard
- 3 Quick-Win Google Data Studio Tips for SEO Reporting
- GUIDE TO GOOGLE DATA STUDIO DASHBOARDS FOR SEO
For more than 10 years, I have used (and I’m still using for reasons that will be highlighted at the end) Google Spreadsheets for creating custom SEO Dashboards for my clients. This was the first big step from amateur SEO services to professional services. Over the years, my model evolved and became more and more complex. As such, from my point of view, here are a few attributes that make an SEO Dashboard a good one:
- Provide context for information
- Give more information or a different view of data from Google Analytics (GA) and Search Console (SC)
- Make it simple enough so any client can understand the information
- Use standardized and free data (Google Analytics/ Search Console)
- A good SEO Dashboard should be both a reporting document and an analysis tool for ongoing SEO strategy
- A good SEO Dashboard can be used in the onboarding process to quickly analyze the history of a site, to have an idea of the current status
When Google launched Data Studio, I saw the opportunity of creating even more complex and dynamic reports. I’m more of a hunter type, so the first step was to look for available templates shared by the SEO community and find a suitable one that I could adapt to my workflow. By analyzing a lot of the existing models, I couldn’t find any to be used as a base model, so the need for a new template arose. Current templates have the following limitations:
- Limited data
- Just regular data views available in SC and GA put in a simple interface
- Information overload without a plan in mind
- No context for the data
- Ugly 🙂
Data Studio SEO Dashboard Details
The goal of the first sheet is to give a helicopter view of what’s happening on the website, to put the data in a context so it’s understandable and the responsible parties could easily make a forecast of future evolutions
All traffic (GA): data is presented in two ways:
- Visual evolution of all the traffic for the past 13 months compared to the previous period. Usually, this kind of visualization has only 12 months, but for me, it is easier to see on the same line the comparison between last month compared to the previous year. This pattern applies to all the “yearly” graphs.
- Numeric values for the most important metrics: Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, Pages/Session. There are 2 data sets:
- The first is for the last full month. This data is compared Year Over Year
- The second data set represents the past 12 months compared to the previous year
- This is structured like this in order to better understand the last month data. Is it below or above the yearly values?
Organic Traffic (GA): this is an SEO Dashboard, after all, so organic traffic plays an important role. The data and the graphic follow the same rules as the “All traffic” section
Historic organic data (GA): This is a long graph showing a larger time frame (4 years – if available). The goal is to quickly spot the overall traffic pattern and to see if there are any problematic periods of time (redesigns/ migrations/ penalties)
Channel overview (GA): this is the first dynamic element, as on a simple click, it changes the “All traffic” and “User Data” to show only values for the current selection
User data (GA): This section contains 3 dynamic graphic elements that allow you to further segment (single or multiple selections) the data on the left side:
- Gender/Age Distribution
- Gender Distribution
- Device Distribution
On the right side of the sheet is a quick overview pulled from the Search Console:
- All Traffic/ Desktop Traffic/ Mobile Traffic with values for Clicks, Impressions, and Average Position. The data is from the last full month compared YoY
- Top Queries (last month compared to YoY). On custom dashboards, I use only nonbranded keywords in order to highlight SEO efforts better
Search Console Analysis
Data on this sheet is pulled exclusively from Search Console.
Page distribution segmentation (SC): How keywords are distributed among 3 large segments (first SERP page, second page, all the other pages). For SEO, the low hanging fruits are keywords sitting on the second page. So, sorting by the number of impressions (default sort), you can quickly identify optimization opportunities. On personalized dashboards, I have another separate segment for branded queries. This layout also allows me to record on the Spreadsheet SEO Dashboard the numbers of keywords/ segment.
Two segmenting tools:
- By Device (the pie chart has sessions as the metric)
- A query finder selector. This allows a quick overview of clustered keywords (keywords sharing the same root-using the contain option)
The right side of the sheet shows numeric values (on top, similar to the ones available on the first sheet) and also a visual representation for the past 13 months. I always hated the combined view on Search Console, and this allows you to see clear trends for all the 4 available metrics. The graphs also have a polynomial trendline.
Search Console Health Check
While this sheet gives useful information each month, it is most useful when analyzing a new website. The goal is to see at a glance the keyword volume per page for the last 3 months compared with the same 3 months from the previous year. Again, there are graphical representations for SC metrics and also a keyword filtering tool allowing keyword cluster analysis.
This sheet has the role of providing fast insights into 2 metrics pulled from Google Analytics: Avg. Document Interactive Time and Avg. Page Load Time. The left side shows an overview of the pages while the right side shows average site values for the desktop and mobile segments. On custom dashboards, I also use data pulled from Chrome User Experience Report.
This, again, is based on data pulled from the Search Console. In the DEMO version, this is not very useful as it repeats values from previous sheets. In the personalized version, this allows quick segmentation based on keyword clusters. On personalized reports, there is also the advantage of editing the SC data source and automatically grouping of keywords. An example of queries segmentation for a real estate website can be seen here.
This is more of a tool rather than a report. Based on Search Console data it offers insights into two important SEO activities
- Cannibalization: clicking on any keyword from the bottom table, it shows on the top table pages appearing for that query. This way you can quickly see if the proper landing page receives the most impressions and clicks and how many other pages are competing for that query
- Internal link building: using the above method or using the search on the right side you can identify the main page quickly for a semantic root and how many pages appear for it. This allows you to have a strategy for placing links on the right pages for maximum results
In addition, there is a device segmentation element and graphical representations for 13 months for any selection done. A similar approach is provided by Aleyda Solis.
While Google Data Studio is a powerful report AND tool, some limitations require advanced processes and a complimentary SEO spreadsheet. A few of these limitations are:
- Search Console data storage: while the current Search Console offers 16 months of data allowing YoY comparisons, for long term projects this is not enough
- There are custom metrics that cannot be used:
- Keyword volume and period comparisons
- The number of pages. For example, the number of organic landing pages is a metric that I monitor as KPI
- I couldn’t find a way (yet) to show YoY trends
This kind of data can be saved in a Spreadsheet SEO Dashboard and after that pulled in personalized Data Studio dashboards
Free Data Studio SEO Dashboard DEMO
Now that the introductions have been made, feel free to analyze your website using the FREE DEMO. By default, the demo uses sample data provided by Google. In order to analyze your website, make sure that you are logged in on Google with the right account and select your site on BOTH Google Analytics and Search Console. Keep in mind that by using the demo version, I don’t have access to any of your data.