Complete guide about how to use Google Sheets for SEO, especially link building.

Google Sheets for SEO: Link Building Edition 2024

Zemfira Meloyan

Table of Contents

As link building continues to develop, staying ahead of the curve is important if you want to bring productivity into your work and achieve your goals.

If you’re a link builder looking to automate and streamline your workflow, you need to learn how to use Google Sheets for SEO because it has all the features that can help you.

However, what’s great is that nowadays, with the help of the internet, you don’t have to get professional training for Google Sheets.

In fact, according to Google Workspace statistics, Google Sheets has over 900 million active users per month, and not all of them have professional training.

In this article, we dive deep into the Google Sheets tips and tricks, column statistics, shortcuts, and functions that we use at SayNine for link building, which you can easily use as well.

Buckle up, and let’s go!

What are Google Sheets?

Google Sheets is a cloud-based spreadsheet program that allows creating, editing, and collaborating on spreadsheets online in real-time. 

Knowing how to use Google Sheets for SEO is knowing a wide range of features similar to traditional spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel, including formulas, functions, formatting options, and charting tools.

Overall, Google Sheets offers a versatile and user-friendly platform for managing data and conducting various analytical tasks.

Why Use Google Sheets For SEO?

SEO can be difficult and time-consuming.

It requires you to track keyword rankings, analyze your competitors, and so much more.

If you use Google Sheets for SEO it can become much easier to handle. It has the right built-in functions and templates to help you manage data accordingly.

It can take the burden of importing, sorting and filtering, merging, analyzing data on itself, and streamline your work.

You get the gist – there are some great features that allow you to use Google Sheets for SEO.

Today we discuss how it is used mainly for link building.

Illustration showing how Google Sheets can be used to perform various link building tasks.

How Can Google Sheets Benefit Link Building?

With its spreadsheet format, Google Sheets offers an organized platform for link building automation.

It allows users to create tabs for different purposes, finding link exchange opportunities, outreach, and tracking, which is a good and structured approach to link building tasks.

Link building often involves teamwork, requiring collaboration with other team members. So. Google Sheets lets you have real-time collaborations where multiple users can work on the same document simultaneously.

Users can learn how to use Google Sheets tricks according to their specific link building needs. It can be something like adding Google Sheets formulas for automated calculations, creating filters for sorting data, etc.

Google Sheets also integrates with other Google Workspace tools, such as Gmail and Google Drive, as well as other third-party applications. This integration helps in workflow automation, email outreach, and data sharing, increasing the overall efficiency of link building efforts.

Google Sheets vs Excel

When it comes to spreadsheet tools, two names stand out: Google Sheets vs Excel.

Both have loyal followers, but which one rules in link building automation?

Let’s see how they differ from one another:


Google Sheets “lives” in the cloud. This means you can access your spreadsheets from anywhere with an internet connection, making collaboration a breeze.

Multiple users can work on the same Google sheet simultaneously, making it ideal for coordinating outreach efforts and tracking link acquisition progress in real-time.

Microsoft Excel, on the other hand, is a desktop-based application. While it offers strong functionality, your files are tied to the device where Excel is installed.

Sharing and syncing files across team members may require additional steps, potentially slowing down the link building process.


While Google Sheets tricks offer a solid set of features, it may not have all the bells and whistles of Excel. However, there are some functions necessary for link building that Excel doesn’t have (like QUERY, IMPORTRANGE, etc. We’ll look at them later).

Hence, that could limit the ability to adjust spreadsheets to specific link building strategies.


Whether you’re using Google Sheets for SEO or other things, it has a clean and intuitive web-based interface accessible via a browser. It has a simple design.

While Excel is a desktop application with a vast range of features visible upfront. It is richer in functionality and customization options compared to Google Sheets.

For some people, it could be easier to navigate Google Sheets than Excel.


Google Sheets integrates with Google’s strong authentication system, offering features like two-factor authentication and single sign-on.

Excel, on the other hand, may rely on your organization’s authentication systems or Windows authentication, which may not be as extensive or flexible.

Google Sheets is continuously updated by Google, providing ongoing security improvements.

Excel updates may depend on the version you’re using, and you may need to manually install updates for security patches.

Accessibility and collaboration

As link building is a pretty collaborative task, you need to work in teams and communicate most of the time.

While Google Sheets has more collaborative features, Excel can be more for solo work.

If you’re using Google Sheets for SEO or link building efforts, it has a chat feature, allowing members to communicate with each other in the sheet.

Also, with Google Sheets, all you need is a web browser and an internet connection to access your files. This makes it incredibly convenient for users on the go or those working across multiple devices.

Excel requires installation on a specific device, limiting its accessibility compared to Google Sheets.


For businesses, Google offers paid plans under G Suite, now known as Google Workspace.

Pricing starts at $6 per user per month for the Business Starter plan, which includes additional features such as custom business email addresses, increased cloud storage, and advanced security options.

Excel is part of Microsoft 365, which offers subscription-based pricing, compared to Google Workspace.

Microsoft 365 provides access to the entire Office suite, including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more. Pricing starts at $6.99 per month for the Personal plan, which includes access for one user on one device, and $9.99 per month for the Family plan, which includes access for up to six users across multiple devices.

Knowing all these, decide which you prefer more, and let’s move forward!

12 Google Sheets Functions To Use for Link Building

Google Sheets functions are needed for various reasons.

They allow the data team to manage the sheets that link builders use, reducing the risk of errors associated with manual data management.

Google Sheets can handle a wide range of calculations with precision and accuracy.

By using built-in functions that we’ll see in a bit and that our data team uses, link builders get to perform tasks more quickly and efficiently.

Instead of manually inputting formulas for every cell, functions can be applied to entire columns or rows, saving valuable time and effort.

Let’s look at some of the best Google Sheets functions we use at SayNine that immensely help our data team.

1. VLOOKUP for Finding Values

Google Sheets VLOOKUP searches for a value in the first column of a table and returns a value in the same row from another column.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it to find contact information for link prospects for your link building activities.

Example: Using VLOOKUP to match the domain of a website with a contact email address stored in a separate table.

2. IF / IFS for Filtering

Google Sheets IF evaluates a specified condition and returns one value if the condition is true and another value if the condition is false.

Google Sheets IFS is similar to IF but allows for multiple conditions to be evaluated, returning different results based on the first true condition.

How to use this function in link building?
As a link builder, you can use it for filtering your link prospects based on specific criteria.

Example: Using IF to flag websites that meet certain quality standards for your outreach.

3. IFERROR for Handling Errors

This function checks if a formula results in an error and returns a specified value if that error is detected. Otherwise, it just returns the result of the formula.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it for handling errors in link prospecting.

Example: Using IFERROR to display “Not Found” when a website’s contact information (e.g. email address) is missing from your sheet.

4. REGEXMATCH for Spotting Patterns

Google Sheets REGEXMATCH checks whether a specified text string matches a regular pattern and returns TRUE or FALSE accordingly.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it for identifying patterns in URLs or anchor text.

Example: Using REGEXMATCH to find websites that have specific and similar keywords in their domain names.

5. IMPORTRANGE for Importing Data

Google Sheets IMPORTRANGE – a function that Excel doesn’t have, imports data from a range of cells from another Google sheet document into the current sheet you’re using.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it for combining data from multiple link building spreadsheets.

Example: Importing link prospect data from various team members’ sheets into the main spreadsheet that you’re using for analysis.

6. QUERY for Filtering & Sorting

Google Sheets QUERY, which is another function that Excel doesn’t have, retrieves data from a specified range in a Google Sheets document based on specified criteria.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it for filtering and sorting link prospects based on your chosen criteria.

Example: Using QUERY to extract websites with high domain authority from a list of your prospects.

7. AND / OR for Testing Multiple Conditions

This is commonly used when you need to ensure that multiple conditions are met simultaneously.

AND returns TRUE if all specified conditions are true. Otherwise, it returns FALSE.

OR returns TRUE if at least one of the specified conditions you put is true. Otherwise, it returns FALSE.

How to use this function in link building?
If you want to test multiple conditions simultaneously, you can use this function and filter link prospects accordingly.

Example: Using AND to select websites that meet both quality and relevance criteria for outreach.

8. COUNTIF for Counting Specific Conditions

It counts the number of cells within a range that meet a specified condition.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it to count the number of link prospects that meet a specific condition of yours.

Example: Using Google Sheets COUNTIF to count the number of websites with domain authority above a certain threshold (e.g. DA>20).

9. RIGHT / LEFT for Selecting Specific Information

RIGHT extracts a specified number of characters from the right side of a text string.

LEFT extracts a specified number of characters from the left side of a text string.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it for extracting specific information from URLs or anchor text.

Example: Using RIGHT to extract the top-level domain from a list of URLs.

10. LEN for Checking Text Length

It allows users to quickly determine the length (number of characters) of a given text string.

LEN can be used in data validation scenarios to ensure that the text you put in does not exceed a certain length.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use this for checking the length of anchor text or meta descriptions.

Example: Using LEN to ensure that anchor text does not exceed the maximum character limit for link placement. Or that the meta description doesn’t exceed a certain character limit (e.g. <155 characters).

11. SPLIT for Separating URLs

It divides a text string into separate substrings based on a specification and returns an array of the substrings.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it for breaking down URLs or anchor text into separate components.

Example: Using Google Sheets SPLIT to separate a domain from its URL.

12. FILTER for Filtering Specific Data

When you apply a filter, it returns a subset of data from a range based on specified criteria.

How to use this function in link building?
You can use it for selecting link prospects based on specific criteria you want.

Example: Using Google Sheets FILTER to filter and identify websites with high authority and relevance for outreach campaigns.

Commands in Google Sheets and How to Do Them

Now, let’s talk commands!

Commands or CMDs are the actions or operations you can perform to manage data, format cells, create Google Sheets formulas, and generate reports.

These commands are available through various menus and shortcuts, allowing users to manage their spreadsheets and analyze data efficiently.

Some of them are similar to functions.

Here are some of the most commonly used commands by our data team for handling data in Google Sheets.

  • Sort and filter

Sorts data in ascending or descending order based on selected columns.

Filters data based on specific criteria, allowing users to focus on relevant information.

For example: In link building outreach, you can sort your outreach list by domain authority (DA) to prioritize contacting high-authority websites first.

You can also filter the list to only show websites that accept guest posts, helping you focus on relevant opportunities.

  • Data validation

Sets rules to control the type of data that can be entered into a cell, ensuring data integrity.

For example: When collecting backlink prospects, you can use data validation to ensure that the URLs entered by your team members are in the correct format.

This prevents errors and maintains consistency in your database.

  • PivotTables

PivotTables summarize large datasets by creating customizable tables that allow for easy analysis and visualization.

For example: If you have large amounts of data, you can use PivotTables to analyze your backlink profile by categorizing links based on factors like anchor text, referring domain, or link type.

This allows you to identify which types of links are most effective in improving your website’s authority.

  • Conditional formatting

It highlights cells based on specific conditions, making it easier to identify trends, patterns, and outliers in the data.

For example: Apply conditional formatting to highlight websites that have a high domain authority or a significant traffic volume in your backlink outreach list.

This makes it easier to prioritize outreach efforts to websites with the most potential impact on your SEO.

  • Split text to columns

These columns split text in a single cell into multiple cells based on a delimiter, such as a comma or space.

For example: If you have a list of backlink prospects where the website URL and contact email are in the same cell separated by a comma, you can use the Split text to columns feature to split them into separate columns.

This allows for easier management and analysis of the data.

  • Remove duplicates

Removes duplicate values from a dataset, ensuring data accuracy and eliminating redundancy.

For example: After compiling a list of backlink prospects from multiple sources, you can use the remove duplicates function to eliminate any duplicate entries.

This ensures that each prospect is unique and avoids wasting time on unnecessary outreach efforts.

Detailed Column Stats in Google Sheets

You don’t have to worry about using formulas, inserting rows for column totals, or eyeballing how many times you see the same value.

Columns Stats, one of our favorite features, gives you this kind of information in a couple of clicks.

It provides automated insights about the values within a column, automatically generates visualizations and key stats that provide insight into the data in a specific column.

These insights include:

  • Count and Distribution
  • Frequency tables (Most or Least)
  • Summary statistics (Total rows, Empty cells, Unique values, Sum, Average, Median, Minimum value and Maximum value)

Let’s try it out:

  1. Open a spreadsheet in Google Sheets.
  2. On the top, click Data, then Column Stats, and review the stats in the sidebar.
  3. At the top of the sidebar, use the arrows < > to switch between columns.

You can keep it open and select other columns in your sheet or get stats for columns on different sheets in your workbook.

If you’re using Google Sheets for SEO or link building primarily, column statistics are valuable for several reasons, mainly revolving around data analysis and decision-making processes.

Here’s a couple of reasons why they are needed:

Data summarization – Column statistics provide a concise summary of key metrics within a dataset, such as totals, averages, minimum and maximum values, and more.

This summary offers a quick overview of the dataset’s characteristics, facilitating easier interpretation and understanding of the data.

For example, if you discover that a specific demographic or geographic region is particularly interested in your links, you can tailor your outreach campaigns to reach out to websites within that region.

Identifying trends and patterns – Analyzing column statistics allows users to identify trends and patterns within the data.

By examining metrics such as averages and standard deviations, you can gain insights into the central tendency and variability of the dataset, helping to identify outliers, anomalies, or recurring patterns.

For example, if you are examining metrics such as keyword rankings, and see a pattern of one keyword ranking higher than others, you can focus on it more.

Performance evaluation – Column statistics can be used to assess the performance of various aspects of a business or process.

For example, in a website’s backlink profile, column statistics can unveil key metrics such as the average domain authority of linking sites, the most frequently linked-to pages, or the types of content attracting the most backlinks.

Benchmarking and comparison – Column statistics enable benchmarking and comparison across different datasets or time periods.

By comparing metrics such as averages or proportions between different columns or categories, users can compare performances, encouraging informed decision-making.

Our Favorite Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Sheets

There are various Google Sheets hacks and shortcuts out there.

Let’s look at the ones we use the most specifically for link building:

  1. Ctrl + Space: Selecting a column can be useful when analyzing data related to backlinks, allowing you to quickly focus on specific link metrics for evaluation.
  2. Shift + Space: Selecting a row could be handy when reviewing a list of backlinks or websites, enabling you to examine individual entries or perform actions on entire rows.
  3. Ctrl + A: Selecting all is helpful for efficiently managing a large volume of data, such as backlink profiles or link building outreach lists.
  4. Ctrl + Z: Undo functionality is crucial for correcting accidental deletions, modifications, or changes in link building campaigns, preventing errors.
  5. Ctrl + Y: Redo can be essential for reversing undo actions or restoring previous states in data analysis or link building tasks faster.
  6. Ctrl + F: Finding specific text or elements within a document or spreadsheet is valuable for finding particular URLs, anchor texts, or other relevant information within a backlink profile or outreach list, especially when you have a large amount of data. 
  7. Ctrl + H: Finding and replacing a specific text allows for efficient data management by quickly updating a specific attribute across multiple entries.
  8. Ctrl + /: Showing common keyboard shortcuts can assist in learning and mastering various shortcuts, improving productivity and efficiency in link building tasks.
  9. Ctrl + K: To facilitate quick inclusion of URLs or referencing, you can insert links directly within documents or spreadsheets.
  10. Ctrl + \: Clearing formatting can be useful for ensuring uniformity and clarity in data presentation, especially when dealing with diverse sources of link data.
  11. Alt + Enter: With this shortcut, you can quickly open any link in a backlink profile or outreach document. 
  12. Ctrl + Shift + T: Restoring closed browser tabs can be helpful when navigating between different web resources or tools during link prospecting or research.
  13. Ctrl + Shift + V: Pasting as plain text helps prevent unintended formatting issues when copying and pasting URLs or other text into documents or spreadsheets.
  14. Ctrl + D: Bookmarking web pages enables easy reference to authoritative sites for potential backlink opportunities or industry-related content for outreach.
  15. ALT + Tab: Switching between apps allows for seamless multitasking, enabling link builders to efficiently manage various tools or platforms involved in their workflow.
  16. F2: Renaming files with this shortcut can become way quicker and easier.

All these shortcuts are great for making your actions faster and increasing work productivity.

How to Protect Your Spreadsheets

Protecting your Google Sheets spreadsheets is essential in automating link building for several reasons, primarily for protecting sensitive data, maintaining data integrity, and controlling access.

Here’s why and how you should protect your Google Sheets spreadsheets in link building:

Confidentiality of data

If you are a link building specialist, you may deal with sensitive information which includes outreach strategies, contact details, and performance metrics.

Protecting your Google Sheets spreadsheets ensures that this data remains confidential and is only accessible to authorized individuals, reducing the risk of data breaches or leaks.

Preventing unauthorized access

Unauthorized access to your link building spreadsheets can lead to data manipulation, unauthorized sharing of information, or even sabotage of your link building efforts.

By implementing protection measures, such as knowing how to password-protect Google Sheets for SEO, or restricting access to specific users, you can prevent unauthorized individuals from viewing or editing your data.

Controlling editing permissions

In collaborative link building projects, multiple team members may need access to the same spreadsheet.

However, not everyone should have editing privileges, as this increases the risk of unintentional errors or unauthorized modifications.

To protect your Google Sheets spreadsheets in link building, consider implementing the following measures:

Protect a range or a sheet

You should know how to protect Google Sheets or a range within the sheet. It’s done to restrict access to your spreadsheet and prevent unauthorized individuals from opening it.

Here’s how you can do it:

Hide and unhide sheets

You can hide sheets that are old or are placeholders for calculations used by other sheets. Hiding a sheet is not the same as protecting it. All spreadsheet editors can unhide and view these sheets.

If you’re a spreadsheet viewer, you can’t see hidden sheets. However, if someone makes a copy of the spreadsheet, the sheets will stay hidden, but you’ll be able to unhide the sheets.

See below how to hide sheets:

Screenshot showing how to hide sheets in Google Sheets in case you need it for link building.

You can also password-protect your Google Sheets spreadsheets. Look through this article from Coefficient to find out how.

By proactively protecting your Google Sheets spreadsheets in link building, you can avoid risks and ensure data security and integrity.

To Summarize

Let’s sum up this article about how to use Google Sheets for SEO and for link building into a couple of bullet points:

  • Google Sheets is a cloud-based spreadsheet program that allows you to create and collaborate online in real-time. 
  • Google Sheets operates in the cloud, offering accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection, while Excel is desktop-based, restricting collaboration to specific devices.
  • Google Sheets is used in link building to streamline workflows, visualize and manage data, and refine analytical skills.
  • Its functions automate complex calculations, from VLOOKUP for contact information retrieval to FILTER for selecting prospects, streamlining link building tasks efficiently.
  • Commands show actions to manage data, format cells, create Google Sheets formulas, and generate reports, aiding efficient spreadsheet management and data analysis. 
  • Column Stats are used for automated insights into column values, including distribution, frequency tables, summary statistics, etc.
  • Protecting your spreadsheet is essential in link building, mainly for sensitive data, maintaining data integrity, and controlling access.

Hope you discovered something new from this article!

See you next time!

FAQ about Using Google Sheets for Link Building

How do I use Google Sheets for SEO?

You can use it for organizing keywords, analyzing data like website traffic, and more.

Can I use Google Sheets as a database for websites?

Yes, Google Sheets can easily transform from a regular spreadsheet to a database.

How to do optimization in Google Sheets?

By using formulas, sorting/filtering functions, structuring data efficiently, utilizing add-ons, etc.

What if I decide not to automate link building with Google Sheets?

It may result in manual handling of tasks, which is time-consuming.

Can Google Sheets be used to monitor backlinks?

Yes, it can be, but you need to integrate Google Analytics 4 with it.

Can Google Sheets be integrated with other SEO tools for enhanced link building?

Yes, it can, through data importation and analysis.

Can Google Sheets help in identifying broken backlinks?

Not necessarily․ You’ll need a separate tool called Backlink Monitoring in Google Sheets.


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