It’s always surprising to find another free Google platform. Let alone one packed with so many useful tools and tricks. How did we all miss this fantastic service? That’s Google Data Studio in a nutshell. It’s the tool you’ve not been using – but really should have been.

Don’t worry, though. There’s no better time to find out what Google Data Studio is than today. And it’s very easy to use. To get you started, we created this Google Data Studio how-to guide.

How-to Guide to Google Data Studio

what is google data studio how to use google data studio

Below we’ll cover what Google Data Studio is, how it works, and how to use Google Data Studio to boost all your projects and businesses.

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What is Google Data Studio?

Google Data Studio is a newcomer to data visualization and reporting tools. Created back in 2016, it’s been getting a lot of attention in recent years – particularly amongst marketers and data analysts.

But Google Data Studio isn’t just for industry experts. It’s a free tool available to everyone. Inside the platform, you can harness the data using interactive dashboards and insightful reports to improve your business decisions.

Still not clear exactly what Google Data Studio is? You can find an Google Data Studio example report below:

Google Data Studio Example

Below you can find an example of a Google Data Studio template that we use in-house. Only, we had it customized for our clients specifically:

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Think: visualizing trends, tracking KPIs for clients, or comparing performance over time. Whatever the data or information you’re collecting, there’s no better way to visualize or monitor the output than with Data Studio.

Example of Google Data Studio Templates

Below you can find a screenshot of the types of Google Data Studio Templates you can find directly on the Google Data Studio dashboard:

google data studio free templates

Data Studio is also cloud-based. So as long as you’ve got an internet connection, you can access your data anywhere. And it’s super user-friendly and interactive. There are tons of pre-built templates already in Data Studio, from eCommerce stores to YouTube channel reports. You can create beautiful dashboards full of useful charts at the click of a button.

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How to use Google Data Studio

Below you can find a quick, bullet-point list on how to setup your Google Data Studio reporting tool. However, if you’re looking for a complete step-by-step guide to Google Data Studio, please scroll down to Step 1.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the set up
  2. Data sources and connectors
  3. Creating a dashboard/report
  4. Charts and graphs
  5. Get experimental

Before you start constructing an incredible dashboard, you’ll need to log in with your Google account. Next, head over to https://datastudio.google.com.

Step 1. Familiarize yourself with the set-up

On the home page, you’ll notice:

  1. Left menu. Here you can create reports, data sources, or explorers. You can also access previous dashboards and reports from yourself or others.
  2. Toolbar menu. Switch between all your reports, data sources, or explorer or tweak a chart (without modifying a report).
  3. Search bar. Search for reports by name
  4. Template gallery. Start a new dashboard or access previous creations.
  5. Reports list. Sort your reports based on name, owner, or last opened.

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Step 2. Data sources and connectors

To start analyzing data, first, you need… data. Data Studio does come with built-in connections to over 200+ data sources. So, there’s no need to schedule periodic data refreshes. That’s not all. You can pull data from almost any source. Here are some of the data sets you can use:

  • Google Marketing Platform products, like Google Ads, Analytics, Search Ads 360, and Display & Video 360
  • Google consumer products, like YouTube, Search Console, and Sheets
  • Databases, including PostgreSQL, MySQL, and BigQuery
  • Flat files from CSV file upload or Google Cloud Storage
  • Social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter

Pretty impressive, right?

In short, you can link data from practically any online or digital source. Now you need to start building your dashboards and reports.

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Step 3. Creating a dashboard/report

Once your data set is ready to go, you’ll want to visualize it. That’s where dashboards/reports come in.

Think about what you want your report to look like. What information do you need to be displayed to understand the data?

For example, suppose you’re analyzing your Google Ads data. You might want to show your Click Through Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate (CR), and Cost per Click (CPC). You can add these to your own personalized dashboard. Or, you can use one of the pre-made templates available. It’s often helpful to look at other dashboards before starting your own. It’ll help you explore all the platform’s features, and maybe spark a few ideas.

Step 4. Charts and graphs

The best way to start visualizing your data is through charts and graphs. There are lots of options from which to pick in Google Data Studio. Below we explore each of the different chart types and their potential uses:

  • Pie charts give you an idea of proportions out of a whole. (They’re perfect for percentages.) For instance, what percentage of users access your site via desktop, mobile, or tablet.
  • Bar charts can compare performance over time. And by adding multiple bars, you can even track multiple metrics. Data Studio also lets you add a progress line to enhance the graph further.
  • Tables let users look through the whole data set. In our ad example, you could show the metrics for each keyword.
  • Line charts display trends, helping to see relationships between two data sets, such as spotting the time of year when business peaks.
  • Scorecards pull important numbers, giving them additional emphasis – for example, comparing search volume between years.
  • Maps show geographic data, like where users are located.

Knowing how to use Google Data Studio involves mastering these simple charts and graphs to best display your data.

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Step 5. Get experimental

Google Data Studio is a tool to be explored. There are so many features hidden away.

For example, data blending lets you combine data from separate sources as one source throughout your report. There’s an interactive menu screen to help you decide how to combine the data sets. Just remember to give the new data set a specific name – you don’t want to get confused later on.

However, be careful not to overdo it. With Google Data Studio, less is definitely more. Just because you can add every graph, chart, table, and scorecard doesn’t mean you should. Data Studio works best when you have clear goals about the data you want to display. After all, it’s supposed to be a helpful way to understand data, not for bombarding users with your skills.

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Take Google Data Studio to the next level

Are you ready to launch the real potential of your online marketing efforts? Learn how to use Google Data Studio and see how Clicta Digital can step up your SEO and PPC efforts. Contact us today for a free consultation!