Have you ever tried creating an SEO dashboard using Google Analytics? Well, you might want to try this technique instead.
Dashboards are a great way to view and share your most essential analytics data, quickly.
But if you've attempted to use Google Analytics to build a dashboard, you've probably noticed their SEO data is lacking!
There's a gaping hole in Google Analytics SEO reporting, due to keywords being “(not provided).” About five years ago Google Analytics took away our organic keyword data, and to date, they haven't given it back.
In this post, we're going to get our keyword data back. And we are going to learn how to build a complete SEO dashboard.
Going beyond Google Analytics to build a complete SEO dashboard
We are not going to settle for the status quo in Google Analytics. Instead, we'll combine our analytics data with our Google Search Console data. Then with the help of a hero, we'll go inside Google Data Studio. And we'll use the Data Studio templates to craft the foundation of a complete SEO dashboard.
No more digging through Google Analytics and piecing together incomplete SEO reports. Our dashboard will allow you to quickly access your SEO data, complete with keywords, anytime you need.
SEO Dashboards in Google Analytics
Back to the future
Recently, we published a post about SEO dashboards in Google Analytics. We were trying to help one of Analytics Course students, Zoe, build a better SEO report.
Analytics Course Student question
In our efforts to help Zoe, we worked through the SEO reporting options in Google Analytics.
And we solved the problem. Kinda sorta.
The real outcome was we concluded that we could build a better SEO dashboard in Google Data Studio. And with the help of third party tool, we might even be able to get our keywords back. If you want to watch part one of our SEO Dashboard tutorial, you can check out the video below.
The quest for a better SEO dashboard
Following our previous tutorial, we asked you, the readers, if you wanted us to go a step further and complete the quest for a better SEO report. You answered with a resounding “Yes!!!”
Where we've been and where we are heading
Before we crack open Google Data Studio, we need to take a step back in time. We need to visit the SEO related reports inside of Google Analytics. And we need to take a look at what's broken, so we know why and how we're going to fix it.
Even though we're going to fix our SEO problems in Google Data Studio, we'll still be using Google Analytics. Our Data Studio dashboard will pull data from our Google Analytics account. So we need to know which analytics metrics and dimension will work best in our report.
Let's take a quick look at what's going on with SEO reporting inside Google Analytics.
Google doesn't make SEO reporting easy
Google is not excited to help us with our SEO reporting. I've written about how Google Analytics is not an SEO friendly tool in the past, and still feel that way today. Ready-made SEO reports in Google Analytics are lacking, and it causes frustration for many users.
Not to be a downer, but there's also another big problem with Google's SEO data.
Keywords not provided
The biggest problem with SEO reporting in Google Analytics is the lack of keyword data, which is a bummer for anyone who wants to improve their SEO performance because keywords still run the show.
The most common SEO “formula” works like this:
Find a high quality keyword target, create great content about that keyword… Get loads of new search traffic.
But you'd never know that by looking inside of Google Analytics. SEO would be so much easier if Google shared keyword data.
A lack of keyword data makes Google Analytics keyword reports mostly useless.
As you can see from the report below, almost 97% of our keyword data at Jeffalytics is “(not provided)”! Like I said, useless.
Where else can we look to get our keyword data back?
Google Analytics Search Console reports
Most Google Analytics users have turned to the Search Console reports for their SEO data.
You can find your search console reports under the acquisition tab in your Google Analytics account.
The queries report can help us see which keywords people are using to get to our website. But, this report still lacks a lot of actionable information.
This report gives us some information about how people find our website. But it doesn't tell us what people do on our site. There are no metrics available in this report for conversions or user behavior. So we are still missing a lot of the information a useful SEO report should include.
Landing page report
The landing page report allows us to see how each page on our website is performing. This report displays data about search volume, user behavior, and conversions for our web pages.
This data can be a handy source of SEO information when used correctly.
However, for most websites, the data in the landing page report does not make the actual keyword apparent.
Analyzing landing page reports
We can draw some inferences about our keywords using the landing page report. We can look at our best performing content, and relate it to the main keywords on that page. The landing page report also includes columns for user behavior and conversions.
The landing page report gets us closer to the answers we need, but we're still missing the vital keyword data that powers SEO.
Looking at our Google Analytics reports helps us get a better idea of the quality of SEO information we have available. Now that we know what we have to work with, we can try to tie that information together in a dashboard.
Building a Google Analytics SEO dashboard
Trying to create a new SEO dashboard in Google Analytics can be a bit troublesome. Many of the SEO metrics we want in our dashboard are unavailable. Google will not let us add keywords or queries to our dashboard.
Once again, the functionality that Google removed is causing problems for our SEO analysis.
Importing a pre-created dashboard offers us a quicker solution to this problem.
Importing SEO Dashboards
Here's an SEO dashboard you can import
Here's an example of an SEO dashboard I've been using for a while. This dashboard integrates well with e-commerce websites. If you want to test my SEO dashboard in your account, you can import it by clicking below.
Google Analytics Solutions Gallery
The best, curated source of pre-built dashboards is the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.
You can access the Solutions Gallery by choosing to create a new dashboard. Then select the “Import from Gallery” option.
Once you're in the gallery, type SEO into the search field. Google will then show you dashboards that have been designed specifically for SEO.
Many of the dashboards in the gallery haven't been updated for over five years, though. But you may still be able to get some utility out of them.
If you find a dashboard you want to use, you can import it into your account. Google Analytics will then display your data using the dashboard you selected from the gallery.
The Solutions Gallery SEO dashboards can be outdated and rigid
Many of the SEO dashboards in the gallery still feature keywords in their report. When you import them into your account, you'll immediately notice this data is not available.
The gallery dashboards can be helpful, but they will take some trial and error. And as I mentioned, many of them are outdated.
The reason these dashboards are outdated? Most people have moved over to Google Data Studio.
And Google Data Studio is where we're going to go to build a better SEO dashboard. But first, we have to take care of an essential piece of business!
Time to get our keywords back
Ok, our trip down memory lane is over. It's time to get down to serious SEO business. We are on the cusp of creating a beautiful SEO dashboard, but we need some organic keyword data. No more of this “97% not provided” garbage. Let's bring in our hero, Keyword Hero, and fix this problem.
Keyword Hero to the rescue
I've had Keyword Hero running in my Google Analytics now for about three weeks. And this is the first time I've seen real organic search keyword data in my account in over five years.
Keyword Hero has reduced my keywords (not provided) to 2.6%. Pretty impressive!
Installing Keyword Hero
Getting Keyword Hero set up in my analytics account only took a few minutes. Here's how the installation process works.
First, you log into Keywords Hero and choose the account you want to track.
Next, you choose which Google Search Console property you want to connect.
Then, you create a mirrored property within your analytics account.
You should start seeing keyword data in about 24 hours after you've completed the setup process.
This data only comes in proactively. You won't get any historical keywords stats. But you should be able to start analyzing your keywords pretty much right away.
(My only complaint about Keyword Hero so far is that you must manually add goals to your mirrored property. I didn't get a chance to create conversions in my Keyword Hero correctly before preparing this tutorial. So, we'll have to leave that metric out of our SEO Dashboard for now. But I would encourage you to track conversions in your properties and include them in your SEO dashboard.)
What's cooler than an SEO Dashboard in Google Analytics?
Finally, we have some real keyword data in our analytics. Pretty cool, right?
But do you know what's even cooler?
(Ok, sorry JT, not trying to step on your toes. A billion dollars is pretty cool, but that's not what we're talking about.)
A full out SEO dashboard! A dashboard that pulls in your best SEO data from multiple sources is pretty fricking cool!
So let's build one.
Now, we could do this in Google Analytics. You can certainly use your Keyword Hero property with one of the Solutions Gallery dashboards.
But we want to do better. So, we are going to work in Google Data Studio.
Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio is another one of Google's free resources. This platform is made to build dashboards. It will offer us a more functional and user-friendly interface than Google Analytics for these purposes.
When you login into Google Data Studio, you'll notice some ready-made templates.
You can select any of the templates to try them out. These reports come populated with Google's sample data.
You'll need to connect Google Data Studio to your account to import your data.
To build our SEO dashboard we're going to use the Google Data Studio Search Console template. And we're going to populate it with our Google Analytics data.
Things are about to get pretty impressive because we are going to build a hybrid report.
Google Analytics + Google Search Console
We'll take the 800 lb gorilla – Google Analytics, and combine it with the elephant in the room – Google Search Console.
(I refer to Search Console as the elephant in the room, because we keep waiting to get full historical data in search console. I mean c'mon Google! Why limit us to 14 months. Show us our full search traffic history. Is this somehow related to hoarding keywords? I don't know, but I'll stop ranting so we can get back to work.)
So what do you get when you combine an 800 lb gorilla with an elephant?
That's right; we are building the Gorrillaphant of SEO reports. (Another brief side note. I couldn't resist including this hybrid animal picture. But try to stick with me here. DO NOT get sucked into looking at hybrid animal pics online or we will never finish this project… Ok maybe just one more )
SEO dashboards, that's what we are talking about! Let's make one in Google Data Studio.
Building an SEO Dashboard in Google Data Studio
The goal here is to give you a foundation to start customizing your ideal SEO dashboard. But, if you want to use the dashboard I created for this tutorial, you can grab it below (but you must give me a valid email address because we only deliver it to a valid email address). You can also download our SEO dashboard 10-step checklist.
In our SEO dashboard, I've brought in keyword data from two sources. We have our new organic keyword data from our Google Analytics Keyword Hero property. And I have our query data from the Google Search Console.
Customizing the Search Console template to your needs
To personalize this dashboard, you can click the edit button in the upper right-hand corner.
Editing your reports in Google Data Studio is pretty straightforward.
Clicking on any of the charts or tables will allow you to view the data source for that reporting widget. If you're using the dashboard for the first time, you'll need to adjust the data source for each of your reports.
Google Data Studio vs. the Google Analytics API
The reports in Data Studio come from the Google Analytics API. If you followed our tutorial on working in the API, you should notice a lot of similarities.
The main difference between Data Studio and the API is that in Data Studio you get pretty charts and graphs. When you're working in the API, Google Sheets displays your data in tables.
The Data Studio interface provides a lot of control. You can adjust your metrics and dimensions for each report. When you first connect a new data source to a reporting widget, you may need to change the metrics or dimensions. You can also sort and filter the data in your reports.
Adding the query report to your dashboard
Let's look at how I adjusted the Search Console template to create a keyword potent SEO report.
The default dashboard included a landing page report in the lower left-hand corner. I replaced this report with a query table from my Search Console.
Choosing the right data source
To make this adjustment, you need to create a new data source.
Then, you need to connect your search console to your report.
Google Search Console offers two different data sources.
One source is the URLs of your pages listed in search console.
The other is the queries reported by search console.
Site impressions are the source of your search query data, whereas URL impressions generate your landing page data. For this report, we're going to use site impression to bring in our search query data.
Once you've connected to your site impressions, you will see it displayed in your Data Source options.
Metrics and Dimensions
When you add a new data source, you may need to adjust your metrics and dimensions. Changing these elements in data studio is much more visual than working in the Analytics API.
You can type in the name of the metric or dimension you're looking, and if it's available Data Studio will display that option.
Keep in mind, not all metrics and dimensions can work together.
Add in your organic keyword report
To create our organic keyword reports, I connect Data Studio to the Google Analytics Keyword Hero property.
And I selected the Keyword dimension.
Then I adjusted my metrics to include Sessions and Bounce Rate.
Filter your keywords
If you scroll down to your data editing area, you can access the filter and sorting options.
To create our organic keyword report, I used the Medium filter. And I set the Medium to organic. This filter limits the data in our reporting widget to strictly organic keywords.
To make this report more granular, and only focuses on long tail keywords, we can adjust our filter a little more.
In our filter, we can restrict the metric Sessions to less than 100. This adjustment will remove high volume keywords from our report.
Using the sorting and filter options in Data Studio is a great way to hone in on your most critical data.
The building blocks of the ultimate SEO dashboard
These are the building blocks of our complete SEO dashboard.
We have traffic and clicks reports.
And we've added in the most critical component – the metric that's been missing from our analytics for ages – organic keywords.
We all have different SEO targets. That said, just about everyone is going to want to see which search terms are bringing in traffic.
As I mentioned earlier, I think we could improve this dashboard even more by adding keyword level conversion data. I'll leave that step, as well as the rest of the customization up to you.
Let's quickly recap the steps in building our SEO dashboard using Google Data Studio.
1. Connect your Google Analytics Account to Keyword Hero
2. Set up a mirrored Keyword Hero property in your analytics account
3. Connect your Google Analytics account to Google Data Studio
4. Select the Search Console Template in Google Data Studio (or install our modified report)
5. Add the query report to your Search Console template
6. Connect your search Console Data Source to your query report
7. Select your site, and site impressions to get data into your query report
8. Connect your keyword report to your Keyword Hero data source
9. Add the metric keyword and the dimension sessions to your report
10. Filter your keywords report by the medium organic
For Analytics Course student Zoe: there is the answer to your question. Google Analytics + Keyword Hero + Google Data Studio = a Complete SEO dashboard. Hopefully, your client will be impressed.
What's in your perfect SEO Dashboard
Now, it's your turn. I want to hear from you. How should we make this dashboard even better?
What reports would you include in your Complete SEO dashboard?
Leave a comment below with suggestions for how we can improve these reports. If there are enough requests, we'll expand this tutorial and keep adding to our SEO dashboard.
Need a little more help with Google Analytics?
If you need help with these steps check out our full Google Analytics training. Analytics Course will teach you how to take command of your Google Analytics account. After completing our course, you'll be able to set up this SEO dashboard in minutes.