In a blog post for the Funnel Blog, I shared three methods for setting better SEO goals. Now, I want to show you how you can use these goals to create a meaningful and easy-to-navigate Looker Studio dashboard for SEO. This dashboard will offer clear insights into the performance of your website's organic search traffic against your objectives, as well as previous performance records.
After following the steps outlined in this article, you will be able to create visualisations like this one, allowing you to quickly see how you are progressing against your goal:
Monitoring vs Reporting
Before we dive into the specifics of building this SEO dashboard, I want to explain my view on the difference between monitoring and reporting. As I see it, these concepts have very different purposes and audiences:
Monitoring: This process involves tracking various metrics regularly, preferably with granular data (daily rather than monthly), to provide an all-round performance view of your website. Generally, monitoring is an internal procedure aimed at facilitating data-driven decisions for ongoing improvements.
Reporting: On the other hand, reporting zooms in on select key performance indicators (KPIs) and is conducted less frequently (weekly, biweekly, monthly, or even quarterly). It is designed for external communication with clients, superiors, or other stakeholders, providing them with data along with its context, i.e., what happened, why it happened, and how each metric differs from the previous year's.
Our aim with this SEO dashboard is to both streamline your monitoring and make SEO reporting more efficient.
The Importance of SEO Reporting
SEO monitoring and reporting are vital to the success of your digital marketing endeavors. A well-orchestrated SEO dashboard that caters to both monitoring and reporting needs is a powerful tool for any SEO professional.
By consolidating relevant data and insights in a single, user-friendly interface, a comprehensive dashboard empowers you to track your website's performance against specified goals, identify optimization opportunities, and promote effective team collaboration. It facilitates informed decision-making and proactive adjustments to your SEO strategy.
In this blog post, we'll provide guidance on how to build an effective SEO dashboard using Looker Studio, tailored to your monitoring and reporting needs. By adhering to these guidelines, you'll have a robust tool at your disposal, keeping you updated on your website's performance and assisting in communicating your success to key stakeholders.
Step by step guide
Now, let's look at a step-by-step approach to setting your goals in Looker Studio, which will enable you to create these type of data visualizations:
Step 1: From monthly to daily goals
Turn your monthly goals into daily goals.
If you have monthly goals already, use this Google Sheets template to create daily goals.
Step 2: Collecting data in a single place
We will use Funnel to bring together your GA data and the data in your SEO Goals sheet.
If you are not a Funnel user yet, you can sign up for free here.
Go to Data Sources
Add a new data source:
Google Analytics and Google Sheets are both listed as popular data sources. We will start by adding Google Analytics:
Follow the steps to connect Google Analytics.
In the second step, make sure to choose Google Analytics 4:
We need to include the Dimension ‘Session default channel grouping’. To do that, click Edit fields in Step 4 (Configure Data Sources) of connecting GA:
Add ‘Session default channel group’ and click ‘Next’:
Finally, click ‘Connect Data Source’. You will now see this screen:
Awesome! One source connected.
While Funnel is downloading your data, you can connect the Google Sheet you made earlier. Click ‘Connect more’ and choose Google Sheets.
Confirm you are logged in with your Google account, then simply paste in the link of the Google Sheet that contains your goals:
After clicking ‘Load sheets’, you will see a preview of your sheet. This is just to make sure you have added the right file. You can also select the sheet you want to use. If you have used the template shared in this blogpost, it will look like this:
In my case, the selected sheet is the sheet that contains the data I need. So I can click ‘Connect’ in the top right corner of the screen:
Funnel will automatically detect where your data starts:
Scroll down to uncheck the fields we don’t need. We only need Date and Organic sessions target:
Note: If you are also setting targets for conversions from organic search, you also need to check the box for column F.
Once you have completed adding Google Sheets to your Funnel workspace, go to ‘Data Sources’. It should look like this:
Step 3: Create custom metric
We are almost ready to share our data with Looker Studio. However, we first need to create a custom metric for organic sessions. To do so, click on ‘Metrics in the left side panel. Then, click on ‘Create Metric’:
First, fill out the Name and Description fields:
Next, choose a precision 0 for the metric. This just means that the number of sessions will be a rounded number.
Now, scroll down and select ‘Rules’ to make a rules based metric.
Choose Google Analytics.
In the next step, create the following metric:
Make sure that you use capital letters for the O and S in ‘Organic Search’.
When you have exactly replicated the above metric, click ‘Create’ in the top right corner.
Why create a custom metric?
While you can use raw data in Looker Studio and apply filters there, it is wise to create a custom metric in Funnel. This makes it a lot easier to combine several metrics in one chart later on. Adding a filter like ‘Session default channel group = Organic Search’ to a chart in Looker Studio would also affect your Google Sheets data, if that is in the same chart. Resulting in a chart without Google Sheets data at all.
Step 4: see your data
In order to see your daily goals and compare it with your daily organic sessions, navigate to ‘Data explorer’ in Funnels left panel.
Click ‘Choose Fields’ and choose the following fields:
Organic sessions target
Now click ‘Load data’.
You can now see the target and result for the selected period in one overview. It may look like this:
If you have not created goals for any days that have already been, you will not be able to see it in this way. If that is the case, you will see a hyphen (this one: -) on the dates that don’t contain a goal. And, if you change the date range, the hyphen will be visible on the dates in the future where there is no GA data available yet.
Step 5: Share your data to Looker Studio
Go to ‘Google Looker Studio’ and click ‘Create Data Share’:
Give the Data Share a name, then click ‘Choose fields’:
Choose the following fields:
Under ‘Custom’, deselect everything, then select only ‘Organic sessions’.
Under ‘Date’, select all fields
Under ‘Google Sheets’, select ‘Organic sessions target’
This is what you need to track organic search performance against your goals.
If you want, you can add some more fields, for instance from Google Analytics.
Once you are happy with your Data Share, click ‘Use these fields’.
Next, click ‘Save’ in the top right corner of the screen.
You now created a data share! Click ‘Connect to Looker Studio’. This will open a new tab, where you can connect the data share to Looker Studio.
In the new tab, simply click ‘Connect’ in the top right corner.
In the next screen, click ‘Create report’. This will open a new, empty Looker studio dashboard for you.
Step 6: Create the charts
This is the fun part!
First, let’s create a chart that shows you the last 28 days.
Click ‘Add a chart’ and choose the Time series chart
Keep ‘Date’ as dimension
Add ‘Organic sessions’ and ‘Organic sessions target’ as metrics
This will result in something like this:
This month so far
You may also want to monitor the current month. To do so, copy the chart you created. You can do this with Command+C and Command+V (or ctrl if you are using Windows). Place the copy under the first chart.
Now, edit in the following way:
Change the Date range from ‘Auto’ to ‘Custom’ and select ‘This month’
Click on ‘Style’ and check the box for ‘Cumulative’ for both ‘Series’ of the graph.
For the series containing ‘Organic sessions’, also check the box for ‘Show points’
This will create a graph like the one below:
Create a larger canvas
At this point, you may want to increase the size of your report to show more charts.
To do this, click on ‘Theme and layout’. Go to ‘Layout’ and change the Canvas size. I usually go for something like this:
Month over month and year over year
While it is good to track organic sessions against your goal, you may also want to look at SEO results in comparison to last month or last year. Here’s how to do this:
Create a new time series chart
Use ‘Date’ as dimension
Only add ‘Organic sessions’ as your metric
Choose a date range you want to work with. This can be Last month, this month so far, or the last 28 days.
Add a ‘Comparison date range’. Choose ‘Previous year’ in oce chart, and ‘Previous period’ in another.
This may look something like this:
There you have it!
You created a Looker Studio Dashboard to track your SEO results against your targets and against previous periods.
Of course, you can do a lot more with Looker Studio - but this is a great start.