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Introduction to Google Data Studio

I admit that I was a late joiner to Google Data Studio. There are a ton of reporting tools available for small agencies and solo shops, most of them pay tools, and many that integrate with multiple platforms easily, but GDS still has a place in simple reporting when a quick reporting platform is needed and you don’t have the budget for an expensive tool.

My favorite use for Google Data Studio is to present C-Level people with a quick report that contains their favorite metrics, regardless if those metrics are actually useful or not. Let’s start by creating a simple Analytics Report.

Linking Data Sources

We start at and create a new report. We’ll start with a blank report. After you select the blank report you’ll be presented with a list of [Sample] data sources. To select your own site, click ‘Create New Data Source’ at the bottom of the list.

You’ll be presented with a massive list of data sources that are available to you. Everything from Google products to Facebook, from eBay to Twitter – and many more – are available. But, for now, we’re only interested in Google Analytics. This is where the real power in GDS is found, the ability to collect data from multiple sources and present it quickly.

GDS Data Sources

After selecting Analytics, you’ll be presented with every GA account that you have access to to select from. This is where actually naming your GA properties with descriptive names rather than leaving the default ‘All Web Site Data’ as the property name comes in handy.

Now that we have a data source selected it’s time to create a simple report.

Creating a Basic Report

The top of the report holds all of your options. Graphs, charts, scorecards, plain text, and images are all available.

GDS Main Menu

Let’s start with a scorecard. Click the scorecard icon in the center of the main menu andGDS scorercard click anywhere in the report. The scorecard always starts with the number of sessions from the last 30 days. Let’s leave that alone for now and repeat the process to get a second sessions scorecard.

Now, on the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see your data source menu. And next to that a list of all available fields to use.

GDS Data Source Menu

Click on the blue Sessions option and in the search field type Bounce Rate and click on it when it is available. Now your report has 2 fields in it, total sessions and your bounce rate.

Adding more scorecards is a simple method of repeating these steps. Now we’ll add a pie chart. One of the more popular charts for most C-Suite managers is the device chart. This time, we’ll click on the pie chart in the main menu and then click on the report. The default chart is the traffic source. Let’s skip that and look at the device chart.

Click on the green Dimension option and change Source to Device Category. We could leave the Metric in the blue box set to Sessions, but I rarely find that useful, I’m much more interested in Unique Pageviews. Click on the Metric and type Unique Pageviews into the search box and click.

GDS Data Menu

Now we’ll create a bar graph by clicking on the bar graph icon. Let’s change the Dimension to Device Category and the metric to Sessions. That makes for a simple bar graph, but we can do more. Click the add metric button right below where you set the sessions, locate and add Pageviews as a metric. You can leave the sort on Sessions.

This creates a bar graph that’s very useful.

GDS Bar Graphs

Now, let’s add a chart to our report. Click the table icon in the main menu and then click on your report to place it. The default table is a traffic source and sessions report. That’s fine for what it is, but we can do better. In the dimension field, we can change it from Source to Medium. This gives us the simple traffic breakdown that C Level people love. But it’s still not enough.

In the metrics field let’s start adding more. Click add metric and add Bounce Rate, if you have some goals set up, start adding those as well. In fact, go crazy, add as many as you like. In our case, we’re interested in Sessions, Bounce Rate, and Purchases.

GDS Table

Finally, let’s add some interactivity to the report and add a title. Near the end of the main menu is the Date Range icon. Click and place in the top right corner of your report. When you are in “View” mode, you can click the date range icon and set the date range to anything you want. However, there is an issue that Google is aware of when you try to create a PDF of the report, Data Studio reverts to the default date range (the last 30 days) and prints that for you regardless what you have the date range set to.

Next, click the text icon and place that near the top of your report and give it a name.

Hello World

Google Data Studio is a great tool for generating quick reports. You can share the link with your client or other team members. I’m sure that, like me, you have clients who love to see certain metrics. With this tool, you can generate their favorite report and turn them loose to look at it any time they want.

Here’s a video I made, demonstrating the step-by-step process of implementing GDS for your site and building a report that’ll provide your clients with the information that matters most to them, in a digestible format.


One Comment

  1. Anne Kelley January 28, 2019

    Great article! I got into data studio, then out of it, now It’s time to get back it! Thanks for the inspiration!

Comments are closed.

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