Google Search Console is an excellent resource for any SEO, but it’s not without its limitations. Pulling the data you need can be time consuming with its cumbersome UI and lack of dashboard functionality. Thanks to Google Data Studio and the Search Console connector, it is now much easier for SEOs to draw valuable insight from their SEO data.
In this post, I look at the importance of data visualisation for SEO, and outline a few tips to help you improve your SEO reports with Google Data Studio and the Search Console connector.
What is Google Data Studio, why is it relevant for SEO?
You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about ‘data visualisation’ in digital marketing. Tools like Tableau and Klipfolio have been around a long time, but there's an element of exclusivity to data visualisation that makes the subject a bit impenetrable to some. However, Google Data Studio is a new (and free) contender to those platforms which aims to break down some of those barriers to entry and simplify data visualisation for marketers and analysts.
Why as an SEO should you care about it? Well, for several reasons it turns out. Not least because important stories live within marketing data, and visualisation has been shown to be a powerful method of communicating these stories.
Make SEO reporting easier with Google Data Studio templates
Thanks to Google Data Studio and the Search Console connector, it’s now incredibly easy to begin to create a template for your SEO reports and tell the stories that exist in your Search Console data. I hope this post serves as a kind of starter to get you thinking about how you might use Google Data Studio and Search Console in your own reporting. And let's not forget the obvious plus regarding its pricing: it's completely free.
See all of your Search Console data in a single dashboard
A big frustration I have with Search Console is in the design of the UI. By only allowing you to view a single dataset at any one time, you’re forced switch between reports or export data to Excel to build reports – it’s not exactly intuitive and can take up a lot of time just navigating your way around.
With the Search Console Connector, SEOs now can house all their ‘Search Analytics’ data in a single dashboard, whether at the site level or URL level. This means you can start to visualise things like click and impression Data over time in a much more fluid and easy to read way (without relying on the Search Console API), while being able to get very granular with it.
If you work as part of a larger marketing team, or are running other marketing channels alongside SEO, you can add multiple connectors (data sources) to the same report. This means instead of having to report on channel performance in silos, you can sit all of your key metrics in a single page.
So if, for instance you're running SEO and PPC in unison, you could report click, impressions and CTR data alongside AdWords click, impression and CTR data to enable you to do quick comparisons of performance.
Visualise page and site performance over time
Thanks to the ability to create and apply custom table Filters to any data set, Google Data Studio is incredibly easy to customise, enabling you to conduct fine grain analysis of specific sections of your site over time.
Let’s say your site publishes a lot of AMP content and you want to understand how those pages perform over a given time period, but want to discount all non-AMP pages. Instead of having to set up filters within Search Console and set your AMP criteria every time, you could add a table Filter to show only pages that match your AMP-criteria. Below is a kind of crude example, but one that works for this blog.
Easily compare CTR differences by country or device type
There’s a really helpful Search Console sample report already configured in Data Studio that lets you filter your data by country and device. It sounds so simple, but this filter functionality alone means you can potentially save a tonne of time doing any comparative analysis across different territories or devices (or any combination of the two).
Once you start playing around with filtering options across a page of pre-made reports, you’ll see for yourself how useful this can be.
Group Keywords and Keyword data with ease
One of my favourite things to do with the Search Console connector is to set up keyword groupings for broad keywords types I want to track. Two simple groupings you might want to create could be brand and non-brand performance for example, but really, you can group keywords in just about any way you might need using Calculated Fields. I could write a whole post on that method as it requires some tricky Regex, so for the purposes of giving an introduction I want to show you a really simple method to group keywords using Filters.
Let's say you want to have a snapshot of impressions for a given set of keywords, simply select the Metric option from the main navigation, then in the control panel to the right scroll down and select 'ADD A FILTER'.
I've created a really simple definition to give me a snapshot of how my site performs for queries containing either 'Google Analytic's or 'Analytics', which is simply expressed as:
This is a pretty crude illustration, but once we have that in place - we can start to visualise how that group of keywords performs across a range of metrics like Clicks, Impressions or Average Position. We could present that data in any way we see fit, a table, a pie chart or a time series. For me, the fact this method allows you to pull data straight from Search Console instead of a third party aggregation or estimation like SEMRush is where the Search Console connector shines.
With this in place, you can start to slice and dice your data even further. Say for instance you want to track a keyword group across different territories - simply add a page level Filter like Country (as below) and you'll have a really quick and easy way of viewing keyword performance across specific regions. Extremely easy, extremely useful.
Google Data Studio has now become integral to my analytics reporting and analysis workflow. I've found it to be incredibly beneficial. not just in terms of reporting Search data, but across a massive range of sources. I've also found Data Studio to be beneficial in helping others understand what could be considered otherwise complex or hard to explain insights.
There’s so many interesting ways you can slice and dice search console data within Google Data Studio, and it feels like I’m only just scratching the surface myself. I suggest you set up own account and get started. You can read more about getting started with Google Data Studio here.