Spice Up Your Reporting by Changing the Sheets

Nobody likes a dull report…

State of Search Spaces at Canton

State of Search has come and gone, but everyone is still buzzing with excitement over the amazing venue, incredible speakers, and killer happy hours. There was so much goodness at this year’s conference, I’m not sure it’ll ever get out of my system (nor would I want it to!), but you’ve got to get back to work at some point. Thankfully, Ryan McLaughlin was there to deliver a phenomenal presentation – Custom Marketing Dashboards in Google Sheets – where he took us all back to school about our reporting.

Let’s face it. Reports are a tough game to play. There are so many data sources and platforms these days it can be a nightmare trying to wrangle them all. This was actually McLaughlin’s biggest problem – trying to figure out how to manage all of his data. He also wanted to make sure his reports were engaging for the client to interact with and easy to understand, so he moved all of his reporting over to Google Sheets.

The results?

Really flipping awesome reports.

I’m not going to run down the rabbit hole in this post, because McLaughlin’s presentation got fairly technical, but he made a lot of great reasons why you should move you reporting over to Google Sheets.

Benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • It’s not necessary to know how to code. Yes, formulas are involved, but there are resources that can take care of that for you (like McLaughlin’s Google Sheet of custom formulas).
  • In times of internal conflict, you can always go back and point to the data. Numbers don’t lie (at least not usually), so it’s good to have all your metrics under one roof.
  • Also, by having all your information in the same place, you’ll be able to walk into meetings full prepared, because you have the strength of the data on your side.
  • But it really all boils down to the fact that good planning leads to good results, and reporting via custom dashboards in Google Sheets is a great way to keep your data in order.

Okay, so you’re sold on the idea of Google Sheets – or at least interested – but where does all the data come from? You need to have data to feed into the dashboard, and McLaughlin highlighted three primary data sources you can use:

  • Google Analytics Add-On for your website data
  • Blockspring Functions for app/service data (like Buffer, SEMrush, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Straight API calls from Google Sheet cells

The sheer level of customization available in Google Sheets is astounding. Did you know you can use the Alchemy API to analyze your content and highlight which keywords your page is (or isn’t) optimized for? McLaughlin broke this down brilliantly, and he pointed out that this could be an incredible report to show a skeptical client that your SEO efforts have not been in vain!

Speaking of SEO, you can also create an SEMrush report that evaluates the on-page elements of any webpage, giving you a quick snap-shot of what’s been done (or still needs to be done) from an SEO perspective. In the words of McLaughlin, “this type of reporting is unbiased algorithmic confirmation that your content is targeted to focus your keywords.”

Who wouldn’t want that?

From start to finish, McLaughlin crushed his presentation, delivering one the strongest talks at State of Search, and you could tell that the crowd was eager to go home and start revamping their own reports – and you can do the same! You can get all the Google Sheet formulas he mentioned in his presentation by clicking here, and you can dig into everything he covered by checking out the slide deck below.


Timothy Huneycutt is the SEO Coordinator at DealerOn, Inc., where he helps beef up his clients’ sites to rank well in Google Search. When he’s not neck-deep in reports, he enjoys reading, writing, and binging shows on Netflix (are there any Whovians in the house?). For more fresh insights in all things SEO and nerd-culture, you can follow him on Twitter – @Timotheous128