Update March 29, 2018Google Data Studio keeps evolving rapidly and new features are added constantly. Make sure to read the updates to see what’s new
Google Data Studio is a free tool with which you can build great-looking, customisable analytics dashboards. Through its easy-to-use interface, create reports that display and analyse data from various Google sources such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console and BigQuery.
In Data Studio, all data sources are referred to as connectors. A range of connectors are supported by default and there is also an option of working with raw data through the File Upload connector:
These are not the only connectors available, however. Earlier this year Google announced that developers can build their own community connectors, and release them for public use. This has resulted in an additional 42 available connectors (and counting) including those using Moz and Pinterest as data source.
You can access the full community connectors library here.
Create a new Data Studio report in 16 steps
Follow these steps to build your own dashboard. In this example, I will show you how to create an SEO dashboard, using the Google Search Console and Google Analytics connectors. (I am using data from various websites I have in my Google Analytics account which is why some of the graphs change throughout the article.)
1. Visit datastudio.google.com
Head over to datastudio.google.com and log in or create a new Google account. Use the credentials for the Google account you have associated with the data you want to display.Important note. By default, you cannot work with data from more than one Google account at the same time. To do so, you will need to purchase a connector that allows for integration with multiple accounts, such as this one.
2. Start a new blank report
Once you are signed in, you should see the Data Studio homepage. From the homepage menu, click Start a new report.
Using a template
If you prefer using a template instead of building you own dashboard, click on ALL TEMPLATES and pick one from the existing pre-made dashboards. Luckily for you, I have created a list of Google Data Studio templates for you to get started.
Worth noting is that even if you choose a template, you will need to configure the connectors (covered further down in this article).
3. Accept T&Cs
4. Give the report a name
Users that are new to Data Studio are likely going to work with several reports simultaneously and, to avoid confusion, I would recommend naming each new report. This is because navigating through a list of [untitled] dashboards can be frustrating and time consuming. You can always change the name of the report at any time.
5. Create a new data source
The very first time you create a new report you will need to connect to a data source: Click CREATE NEW DATA SOURCE.
Next time you create a new report, the available data sources will appear in the list on the right sidebar.
6. Pick a connector
Once you have created a new data source you should see the available connectors for the Google account you are logged in with. Note that we can only add one connector at the time.
We will first add Google Analytics and later go back to add Google Search Console. If the data source you are looking for is missing, you are either using the wrong Google account or you don’t have access to the data you want to work with from that account.
From the list, choose Google Analytics.
7. Define the Account, Property and View
This will bring up all accounts, properties (websites) and views (Google Analytics data) associated with the Google account you are using.
Select the account and property you want to work with, then select the View. I use All Web Site Data but corporate accounts often have many different views to choose from (this depend on your internal analytics structure). Choose the one that is the most useful to you – you can always change this later.
8. Connect the data source
Once you are happy with the selections, click CONNECT.
9. Add the source to the report
This is the final stage before starting building the dashboard. Before connecting, you will see a list of all the default Google Analytics fields that will be available when building the report. For now, we will just add the data sources to the report but you can edit the names and functions of these fields later (covered at the end of step 11, below).
Click ADD TO REPORT to get started with the dashboard build.
You will see the below a pop-up. Click ADD TO REPORT.
10. Define the canvas size
You should now see an empty sheet with grid lines. This is the edit mode of the report build.
Note: At any time, you can see the report you have built by clicking VIEW in the top right corner, then EDIT to return to the edit mode.
Before we start adding elements to the dashboard we need to make sure they will fit on the canvas. Click on the blank canvas to open the sidebar on the right. In the Layout and Theme section, scroll down to the bottom to Canvas size. Here you can choose between certain pre-defined ration, but we are going to customise our report by setting our own width and height.
Set the height to 1500 and leave the width at 900. We can change this at any point if needed.
11. Add dashboard element
In the navigation bar you will find the available visual components. You can add line graphs, tables, pie charts, geo maps, among other options of displaying the available data.
Start building the report by adding one element at the time. Each element will include data from the View, defined in step 7, and comes with preset dimensions and metrics. The data source, dimension and metric can all be changed once an element is added to the report.
Add a line graph
First, we’ll add a line graph, here called Time Series. Click on the first line graph symbol, then click on the empty sheet, hold the mouse and drag to choose the size of the graph.
For the time series line graph, the preset dimensions and metrics (displayed on the right sidebar) are Date and Sessions, respectively.
Note: You can change the display name of both the dimension and metric to something that is easier for the audience of the report to understand. Let’s change sessions to visits. As you can see, the legend of the graph has now changed:
In the sidebar, set the date range to Auto. This is important to that when we later add a time filter to the report, this element will automatically update.
Add a Geo map
This option will display a map, showing from where users come. The pre-selected dimension is Country ISO Code and the metric is Sessions.
You can either select a world map, or focus on a specific continent. Let’s change this to Europe. To do so, click on the map to open the sidebar, then click World under the Zoom area.
Navigate to Continent then select Europe. You should now see this:
Add a table with top landing pages
Click the table symbol. Then, as when adding any new element, click on the report, hold the mouse down and drag the table open.
Once the table is added, navigate to Dimension in the sidebar and click Source (this is the pre-selected dimension for tables). Then continue to Page Tracking > Landing page.
The table metric displayed by default is Sessions so let’s add Time on Page as well. Navigate to Metric > ADD A METRIC > Page Tracking > Time on Page.
You should now see this
Add a pie chart
We’ll go ahead and add a pie chart displaying traffic source.
The Dimensions should be set to Default Channel Grouping and the Metric should be Users
Add score cards
Finally, let’s add 4 scorecards at the very top of the dashboard. Scorecards are a good way of giving a snapshot of current performance, in number form.
For the first scorecard change the Metric to Sessions, the second one to Users, the third to Pageviews and the fourth to Bouncerate.
Tip: Use the search box in the top right corner to find the right metric:
We will also add a comparison metric to see how we performed vs previous period (default is set to none so click on the down arrow):
You should now see this
Now, go back to the first line graph we created and add last period’s data to that graph as well. Now we should see sessions from last 28 days plotted on the same graph:
You can add as many elements as you find fit, following the above steps.
Editing the Data Source
When a connection is made to a data source, the source is used as default in all elements unless you choose to edit the connection. You can’t change the actual data in the source but you can change field setting and the way in which numbers are dealt with in the report.
To edit the data source, select any element and click on the pencil symbol.
This opens up the fields editor.
Here, each row is a data entry point from the source. You can change the name of each field, the type, which is the output type of that field, and how data is aggregated. Having the possibility to edit this data is crucial as certain outputs need to edited to fit the format of you elements (such as date format, to give an example).
Now, let’s move on to adding Google Search Console data to the same report and finish up with some styling and text-based headings.
12. Add Google Search Console data
We are going to add two tables. The first one will include the dimension query and the metrics Clicks, Impressions, and CTR. The second table till display the same metrics but for the landing pages dimension.
Start by adding a new table. Then, change the data source from Google Analytics to Google Search Console.
In the sidebar, under Data source, click All Web Site Data (or whatever source you have selected)
Click CREATE NEW DATA SOURCE and select Search console from the connectors list.
Here, you may be asked to authorise the connection to the data. Click AUTHORIZE then choose the Search Console account, then allow.
Select the website under Sites, then Site impressions and, finally, CONNECT.
From here, follow the same steps as in step 9, above.
Set the dimension to Query. For metric we’ll use clicks, impressions, average position and Site CTR. Now you should see this:
Next, add the second table. You can copy the first table and then change the data source by clicking CREATE NEW DATA SOURCE and repeat the above process.
Note: When choosing table, instead of choosing Site impressions, choose URL impressions before connecting the new data source.
In the new table set the dimension to landing page and the same metrics as table 1, except for the average position (which is not available).
You should now have these two tables:
If you have followed the above steps, the dashboard should now look something like this:
Admittedly, it’s not the prettiest of dashboard (yet), but hang in there, we will style it later on.
13. Add headings and Images
Elements don’t come with heading or titles so you will have to add these manually. This, luckily, is just as easy as adding any other element: just click on add text in the toolbar, click and drag.
Here we can add descriptive titles and heading to be clear with what the data in each element is showing us
Images may clutter the dashboard if used excessively, but a logo is always nice. Click on the Image symbol.
For this report, I will use the Google Analytics Logo.
I will also add a blue square at the top of the dashboard, then move it behind the scorecards and logo. To do so, lick on the square symbol, drag the square open and then move it on top of the scorecard and logo. Then, once you have added a square, move it behind the texts. Right click on it and navigate to order > send to back:
14. Style the dashboard
Google Data Studio is quite flexible when it comes to styling and it is easy to make your dashboard look just as you want them.
To change the design of an element, click on the element choose the STYLE tab in the sidebar.
Here, you can change font setting and colours of the backgrounds, lines, grids, etc. The default settings of each element can also be changed. For instance, you can edit the display setting of axes and the format of numbers and graphs, and so on.
You can also change the theme of the entire dashboard by clicking anywhere on the dashboard background. This brings up the Layout and Theme sidebar.
In this example, I am going to change the theme from light to dark which makes the dashboard look like this:
Styling a dasboard takes some time and I am going to create some templates for everyone to use and update this post once done.
15. Add a time filter
At the moment we can’t change the dates of the elements. To do so we will need to add a date range selector at the top of the report.
Click on where you would like to date selector, then set the date to last 30 days
16. You are done
If you have followed the steps you now have a dashboard that looks like this:
Let me know how you get on and whether you have more questions about how to build the dashboard.
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