Benjamin Estes's Posts



Google Data Studio: Using Google Sheets as a Data Source

Data Studio lets us visualize data from many sources. At Distilled, we’ve been using Google Sheets to do most of our reporting for years. It works well—but transitioning to Data Studio is so satisfying. It’s easier to manage permissions. And it’s also easier to get Google Analytics data into Data Studio than Sheets.

Here’s the thing: it’s still downright fun to use Sheets as a data source in Data Studio. You can see your data, interact with it, and then chart it. Sheets gives you the power of Data Studio without the bother of managing databases. Anyone can do it.

This post explains how to use Google Sheets as a data source in Data Studio. I recommend opening these documents as you follow along:

SEE the final report

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Google Data Studio: Who can See My Data?

We recently introduced several Distillers to Data Studio. The first question they asked?

If I share my report with someone, am I also sharing my data?

The answer is no! And yet—there’s more to it.

Data Studio sharing settings are rational and helpful, but they aren’t intuitive. Documentation spans several pages, so it’s hard to see the whole picture. Here’s the concise description of share settings you need to get started:

Data Studio uses familiar Google Drive sharing features

In Data Studio, there are two kinds of things: reports and data sources. Connecting a data source to a report allows you to design a report visualizing its data.

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5 Analyses You can do Without an SEO Platform

Having a major SEO monitoring platform like Brightedge or Conductor is great. They come with integrated rank tracking. Plus, they have interesting interpretations of that data. A strict rank tracker won’t provide that.

These insights come at a cost. Lots of costs, actually:

  • Money - the monitoring platforms are expensive.

  • Time - a good configuration job takes time. It implies long-term commitment.

  • Inertia - it’s harder to get data out than in. We analyze within the tool. This means long-term commitment.

What if we could get the best of these analyses and avoid these burdens? Say we’re working with a small site. Or we’re working with a small section of a site.

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The Technical Audit Checklist Made for Human Beings

get the Technical Audit Checklist

Technical audits are one of the activities that define SEO—we’ve all done them. But audits are only as valuable as their impact. Whether you’re a practitioner or an agency partner, your job really begins when the audit is finished. You must take your recommendations and make them a reality. Distilled thrives on this “effecting change” mindset.

Yet the (long, laborious) audit has still got to be done. We sift through crawls, consider best practices, analyze sitemaps—the list goes on.

But we’re committed to the technical audit. So if we’re going to audit a site, why not do the audit in a way that makes the fun part—making change happen—much easier?

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Capture Content Metadata with GTM, Without Touching the Back End

Tracking content performance frequently involves spreadsheets with countless Vlookups matching content URLs to metadata. Or tricky URL parsing functions that extrapolate information, like category or date. If you use Google Tag Manager (GTM) on your site, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a few tweaks you can have your very own front-end solution for tracking content metadata.

If you’re not running GTM yet we’ve got a great introductory post from Tim Allen. I’d recommend you start there. In this post I’ll assume you’re up and running with GTM and have at least a passing familiarity with JavaScript.

Now, let’s explore how to use this tool to capture metadata about your posts for use in Analytics reports. Our goal will be to take a blog post “category” value from a page and put it into a custom dimension in Google Analytics.

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