Your guide to building shareable & interactive Google Data Studio reports
I’ve gone all in on Google Data Studio for the last 6 months. It has been an exciting journey and I’ve been amazed that the platform has gotten so little attention.
GDS gets a lot of unwarranted criticism from the business intelligence community. People say Tableau creates better visuals, or that Clickview allows you to go deeper, or even that PowerBI allows better analysis.
But the bottom line is that there is no other free option that offers such an easy learning curve, flexibility, ease of access, native G Suite integrations and effortless sharing as GDS.
In short, it’s my favorite free data visualization platform. And it’s absolutely perfect if you’re already using G Suite.
Moving your existing Adwords and Google Analytics Reports to Google Data Studio
So let’s assume you’re doing one of the following:
- Manually logging into Analytics/Adwords/any other services. Copying your values and pasting them into a spreadsheet or powerpoint.
- Integrating Google Analytics or Adwords into Google Sheets via Supermetrics or an alternative.
- Using the internal custom report features in both Analytics/Adwords
Almost anything you’re doing on these platforms can be transferred over to Google Data Studio. Within GDS the visualizations can be customized pretty extensively, adjusted to match your color palette, logo and overall visual style.
One note before we get started. If you want to skip all the technical stuff and have someone build your GDS reports for you, get in touch: contact
Step 1: Connect Adwords, Google Analytics, and any other data sources
Click “Select” and you’ll open up the connector window.
You may need to sync your account and log in with you Adwords account, so make sure you have your Adwords password ready to go.
Select the appropriate account and either select a specific report, or click “Overall Account Fields” to get data from all reports.
Click “CONNECT” and you’ll hit the fields page.
Then simply click “CREATE REPORT”. This is going to generate a brand new completely blank report.
On the next window click “ADD TO REPORT”… this is just confirming the data from the last page is the data you want to connect.
You now you have a brand new report… it just doesn’t have any content yet.
We also need to get our second data source added. So click the “Resource” section and click “Manage added data sources”
You’ll essentially repeat the exact process we just went through, but using Google Analytics instead of Adwords.
Step 2: Start building your reports.
So, now we have two options:
- Use the blank report we’ve just created and build our report from scratch.
- Use one of the awesome templates that are available for free.
For this tutorial we’re going to use a template. They’re freely available and very high quality. There are several places to find free templates. You can read more about it here. But to keep things simple we’ll use Google Data Studio gallery.
For this example we’ll start with the Adwords Report template. Click it and it will open up in a new tab.
So you’re viewing their version of the report. But you need to make a copy of it. Click the “Make a copy of this report” button in the upper right of the page.
You’ll be prompted to choose a data source. Select AdWords. Again, if you haven’t connected your AdWords account yet, then go ahead and click the “CREATE NEW DATA SROUCE” in blue. (This should all look familiar!)
You now have your own copy of the AdWords report with your own data being displayed. Mine is all zeros because I’m not running any campaigns, but yours should be showing data.
If you want to add some Google Analytics content, it’s super easy. I personally don’t like the Device Breakdown section so I’ll select it and delete it (just click the widget and then hit backspace/delete.
Now we’ve got a big blank spot. I want to add some Google Analytics metrics so I click the “Scorecard” button (it’s a symbol with [2.1] on it in the upper menu on the page).
Click and drag to create a box wherever you want to put your new metrics.
It will pop up with a default metric included. Don’t worry we’ll get it changed in no time.
After you’ve created your new scorecard element, it will be selected by default and we move to the side menu.
See where it says “Data Source” at the top of the lefthand menu? Click that and we’ll switch over to Google Analytics.
You’ll see a list of data sources, the one for Google Analytics is typically called “All Web Site Data” and looks like this:
Click it! And boom! You now have a big list of Google Analytics metrics to choose from.
Choose the metric you want on your chart. Click it and drag it to the “Metric” section just to the left.
And now you’ve got that metric in you widget. You officially have a dashboard combing AdWords and Google Analytics data. Congratulations!
You can repeat these steps and create as many metrics as you want. You can also select different widget types, like line charts, pie charts, area charts, etc.
Play around with it. It’s easier then you might think. In no time you’ll be able to build the perfect dashboard for your organization and everyone will think you’re the coolest person in the room.
Here’s a crazy little dashboard I built with data from Google Analytics, AdWords, Twitter, Google Alerts, Search Console and Youtube.
Google Data Studio is a powerful platform. It does a great job with automated reporting and allows users to build powerful and engaging reports easier than most of the alternatives. I honestly think it’s the best option for most businesses monthly reporting needs (and can often replace work your farming out to an agency).
Try it out yourself. If you run into any challenges get in contact or post a comment on this article. I will take the time to respond.
Our team includes Google Data Studio experts that can help you handle any of your reporting challenges. We can also manage your entire reporting flow.