This is my third Google Data Studio SEO template. The first one expands the possibilities of working with Google Search Console. The second one combines Google Analytics + Google Search Console data and prioritizes pages and keywords based on traffic potential and possible revenue from organic search.

This report will be super useful, but only for analyzing those sites that regularly receive traffic from referral links.

Buy Now for 49 USD

Table of contents



How the idea of ​​the template was born


As with the previous two reports, the idea for this template stemmed from my problem. I often go to the referrals report in Google Analytics to:

  1. Evaluate traffic and sales by referral links.
  2. Find new interesting referral links that drive traffic to the website.

Small but annoying problems start out with:

  1. The Full referrer parameter, which contains the full URL address of the backlink, must always be selected as a secondary dimension in Google Analytics.
  2. You cannot visit the referral link in one click, you just need to copy it.


report by referral links in google analytics

A standard report by referral links in Google Analytics


If you check this report once a week or a month, then the loss of time is not critical. But one incident showed me that it’s not just about wasting time.

While looking through the referral traffic report for the last week, I came across an interesting referring domain – This is the site of The University Institute for Modern Languages (IULM) located in Milan, Italy.


google analytics referral tracking

The domain I detected when made an analysis of referrals


I visited the backlink, but access to such a page is closed for unregistered users. Most likely, a link to our site was posted by one of the students or teachers on the forum or within one of the lectures of the course.

Besides the joy of getting such a link, I also felt the sadness that I might not have noticed it. If you look at the referral links report for a longer period, then all referring domains with a small amount of traffic go down from the spotlight.

Therefore, a report is needed in which it is easy to identify newly appeared referring domains. I partially solved this problem in the Data Studio template, and along the way, I added other possibilities.


The value of the report


The report consists of three blocks of data.


1. General analysis of the effectiveness of referral links

Since I have included in the table, in addition to the Full referrer parameter, the Landing page parameter, some referring domains may meet with you more than once (if there are several different links to your site from one domain).

If you do not need this, then after copying the report, delete the Landing page parameter.

For me, the main value of this table is that you can visit the backlinks in one click.


google analytics referral url


2. History of changes in traffic for referral links

This data block consists of two elements that are spread across the report pages: charts and pivot tables.


They are found on the first two pages of the report. There are 3 charts in total: by months, by weeks and by days. Each chart contains the top 10 backlinks by the number of new visitors for the period selected in the calendar.


chart with traffic stats for top referral links


Pivot tables

These tables are on separate pages: the third page is grouped by months, the fourth – by weeks. Such pages are wider than the first two so that more values ​​are visible at one moment.


pivot table for referral links tracking


To see the entire sheet on one screen while working, you may need to change the screen scale.

It is inconvenient to look at many links on the chart. And the pivot table is convenient. In addition, the pivot table heavily loads the interface, and the more data inside, the better it is to put it on a separate page.

Here is an example of how such a table would help me easily notice the new interesting link I mentioned above.


example of using pivot table with referral links


You need to look for two patterns:

  • Which backlinks, which were previously constantly generated traffic, traffic stopped or dropped significantly. In this case, you need to write to the owner, site representative to restore the backlink, if possible.
  • Which links did not have traffic and it appeared. In this case, you can find out something interesting about your site, product and you can expand the format of cooperation with those who posted it.


3. Grouping of all referral links by page

Both pages and backlinks sorted by the number of new users from the link. In this table, we shift attention from referring domains to the pages of our site.

We look at which pages are most often linked and what type of backlinks are referring to a particular page.


grouping of referral links from google analytics


4. Filters

I have already applied two filters to all data in the report that exclude traffic sources that contain:

  • yandex;
  • and a couple more sites with bots.


filters for referral links report


Data Studio has a limit on the number of rules inside the filter – you can set only 10 values. Therefore, if you want to add something else to exclude, you will need to create a new filter.

But besides these default filters and adding your own permanent filters, you can use the filters that are located at the top.

In a few clicks, exclude unnecessary referrals s from reports or view data only for some of them. You can also filter landing pages. This flexibility is not available in Google Analytics.


exclude some referrals from the report


How to customize the report for yourself


The report consists of four pages. Everywhere the main metric by which referral links are sorted is the number of new users.

The first two pages are identical in all settings except for the last three columns in the upper and lower tables. On the first page, additional performance metrics are built based on Goals, and on the second, they are based on Transactions.

The time period for which the data is displayed by default is the current year. I took such a long gap so that even sites with little referral traffic could benefit from the report.

The data that you see now in the report is data for my website

Like the previous ones, the report can be used in two ways:

  1. Without copying. You keep the link to yourself and each time you connect your Google Analytics view in the dropdown list of data sources.
  2. With copying. When copying, you will need to specify only one data source – your Google Analytics view, which will be set by default in the report you own. Well, here you can already accelerate and customize everything for yourself.


choose data source to get report for referral links


Important additions

  1. Inside the pivot tables, I set a limit of 200 rows so as not to overload the interface. In most cases, this will be enough for you.
  2. Remember that looking at the data for the default period (current year), you will not see important trends over the last 7, 30, 90 days. Work with data from different periods.
  3. Unfortunately, the Other parameter cannot be removed from the charts yet. If your traffic is distributed in small portions over many referral links, then it will be inconvenient to work with charts, since they are scaled based on the parameter with the largest value.
  4. I haven’t added the ability to visit links of landing pages of the own website from tables, but it’s easy to configure.
  5. Some referral links from which traffic comes to you may not be in the index or can have a nofollow tag. Install Sitechecker SEO extension for Google Chrome to check such pages for indexability, robots tags and anchors of your links in one click. This way you can not only get traffic from the referring domain but also strengthen your link profile.

While working on the report, I also learned that in Data Studio you cannot configure filters by metrics inside pivot tables and you cannot place more than three pivot tables on one page.

In total, only two notifications to email, Slack, Telegram are still missing in this report:

  • about a drop in traffic to zero in a week, a month by the backlinks which generated regular traffic the previous several weeks, months;
  • about the top 10-20 links by traffic that appeared only in the last week, month.

I will try to implement this in our Sitechecker soon.

I would be glad to receive your questions and suggestions on how to improve the report.