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SEO Interview: The Benefits of Learning SQL and BigQuery When Switching to GA4

SEO interview - the switch to GA4 and the benefits of SQL and BigQuery in SEO data analysis

Lumar’s SEO and digital marketing interview series continues in this conversation between Senior Technical SEO Jamie Indigo, of Lumar’s professional services team, and Katie Kaczmarek, Senior Data Specialist at Measurelab. 

The two discuss the expansion of data-driven roles in SEO and digital marketing, the value of knowing SQL and BigQuery ahead of the transition to GA4, and the experience of being a first-time speaker at an industry conference.

Listen to the full interview below, or read on for an abridged transcript. 

You can also check out Lumar’s full set of SEO and digital marketing expert interviews

Jamie: Thank you so much for joining me, Katie Kaczmarek.

Katie: Pleased to be here.

Jamie: As I understand it, you have now given your very first talk at BrightonSEO.

Katie: I have. I was part of the fringe element, so the MeasureFest section on Wednesday. I did my first talk and I was first up, so I was very, very happy that that happened.

Jamie: Oh, that’s great. First up, first panel.

Katie: Get it done. 

Jamie: What was the title of your presentation? 

Katie: “Why moving over to GA4 means you need to get on board with BigQuery.”

Jamie: Oh, yes, I hear GA4 is a little bit of a sore spot these days. 

Katie: It is, and it doesn’t need to be, but it is. People have gotten used to UA. And they like how it works. They know how it works. So it’s always nerve-racking when something new comes along and they just have to rediscover how to do everything. So yeah, that’s exactly where everybody is at the moment.

Jamie: What is one thing you hope the audience walked away having learned or considered?

Katie: So it’s very much about BigQuery and SQL, and I just hope they went away not being intimidated by it because it’s a very logical coding language. The reason I went into SQL is because I like doing formulas in Excel. So I know the vast majority of the audience is probably doing formulas in Excel, and if you’re doing that, then you can easily catch onto SQL, I think.

But because it’s coding, people sort of step back from it. But I think everybody could do it really.

Jamie: It’s logical, it’s a consistent structure, a consistent syntax, and sometimes just helping bridge that gap from one to another can be a really big difference.

Katie: Absolutely.

Jamie: So what is your current role?

Katie: I’m a data analyst for Measurelab.

Jamie: How did you get into that role?

Katie: Well, I’ve done SQL for the last ten years. As I said, I originally did formulas in Excel. A good friend of mine was just like, “What do you like doing?” I like doing formulas and he said, “Well you need to do it in SQL,” and I just haven’t looked back since then because I absolutely adore it.

Whenever you say to somebody, “This is what I do,” they’re like, “I don’t understand.” And you just have to kind of go, “It’s a Chandler Bing job. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of it.” It’s numbers and you do stuff with it, you know?

Jamie: What’s your favorite part about this job?

Katie: The challenges. The questions and getting to an answer. I love it. Just being faced with a large set of data and having somebody say, “I want this information out of it,” and breaking it down, and thinking logically about how the SQL you’re writing might affect other things. So you have to not take into consideration just what they want, but what you’re pulling out and how that might affect the data in different ways, and make sure that you’re definitely getting the correct answer.

Jamie: The order of operations very much matters in data analysis.

Katie: Yeah, yeah.

Jamie: So how does your role fit into the larger organization?

Katie:  I do the SQL side of things in the business. So we’re a consultancy agency for all things Google Analytics. So if somebody is having problems with setting up GA4, setting up tagging, reporting on GA4, setting up dashboards, we do it all — but there are so many pockets of people in the organization that all do something different.

My side of it is the SQL side, in BigQuery. Once they’ve got that GA4 data loading into BigQuery, to analyze the actual raw data. So GA4 does a vast amount of reporting in the UI. But it can be very limited as to what Google has set up for you. So BigQuery gives you the option to delve even further and really get the information out.

You can also pull in internal data, so proper customer information or Google ad stuff and really get everything talking to one another and get some proper reporting going.

Jamie: That’s beautiful. So it’s less about getting stakeholder buy-in and more about connecting, not only the data sources but the teams that are trying to interact together.

Katie: Yeah. We don’t need to advertise very much, which is quite fortunate. People come to us because we are quite knowledgeable with, you know, if you’ve got a GA4 issue, or Google Analytics issue, we’re one of the best, I think. One of the best consultancies to go to. No bias in any way, shape, or form.

Jamie: What inspired you to go ahead and pitch to speak?

Katie: A colleague told me I had to.

Jamie: Oh, you got volun-told!

Katie: I got bullied into it, yeah! I mean, it’s a great thing. He’s such a booster, he’s very, very enthusiastic about GA4 and he was like, “You’ll be great at this. You can do this.” And I was like, “I don’t think I can, but I will.” So just sort of jumped off the deep end and kind of went, “Okay, yeah, I can do it, and it’s fine. 

Initially, he told me it was 10 minutes. Turns out it was 20 minutes. But it worked out fine in the end. It’s all good.

Jamie: Love it. Why was this subject that you chose so important to you?

Katie: Because I love SQL so much, and I don’t want people to be intimidated by it because I think data is just—the future is just—everything’s going to be ones and zeroes and data.

Jamie: They’re intimidated. You have job security.

Katie: Yes, that’s true. That is very true. But I think there’s going to be plenty of jobs for everything to do with data. I think there is a competitive market at the moment for data analysts. And yeah, that makes me very happy.

Jamie: Data has been worth more than oil since 2016. It’s a good place for you to be.

Katie: I know. It’s amazing.

Jamie: So would you hop on stage again?

Katie: Possibly. I mean, so many people have said, “You’ve done it once now, the more you do it, the easier it’ll get.” And I’m sure that’s absolutely true. Potentially I’d do it again for a similar-sized audience. I wouldn’t want to do the SEO-sized audience, cause they are huge today! Rooms are filling out.

Jamie: I’ll bet you a coffee you’ll be back.

Katie: Yeah. I probably would. I probably would. But I need to make sure I’m 100% knowledgeable on what I’m telling people.

Jamie: Well that’s not true, no one can be 100% knowledgeable. (Sorry to contradict you, Dear Guest!)

Katie: Dan, at work, who suggested I do it in the first place, he was very good at leading me and coaching me through it because he does this sort of stuff all the time. 

I think I was putting too much into the slides. I wanted to give as much information as possible, not necessarily knowing fully all the information I was trying to tell people. And he was like, “If you don’t completely get it, take it out. Nobody’s going to know it’s not there.” 

But I [tend to] want to overload information on everybody. But he’s just like, “Just bring it back to what you absolutely core know.” And that made it a hell of a lot easier, and less nervous, because there’s nothing like trying to explain something that you know a little bit about and fearing that you’re going to get something wrong to a room full of knowledgeable people.

Jamie: Oh, I absolutely accept, every time I get on stage, I’m like, “I’m going to do something wrong. Let’s see if you can spot it.”

Katie: It’s really tricky because, you’re sorting your slides and your presentation out, and you don’t know who’s in the audience. You don’t know if you’re gonna be teaching people to suck eggs, they’re not gonna know a single thing of what you’re talking about or they know exactly—

Jamie: Teaching people to suck eggs??

Katie: Good English quote there! it’s teaching people what they already know, basically. You can take that one away with you. [laughs]

Jamie: What has been your favorite moment of BrightonSEO?

Katie: When [the talk] was done! Also, people coming up after and asking questions, because that tells you it was interesting to somebody. And that’s really cool. Also looking at the interactions on Twitter and LinkedIn after you’ve done the speech, and having somebody reference you: “This was a really great talk.” That means just absolutely everything.

Jamie: That’s beautiful, I love it. For folks who would want to follow you and see where they can catch you next on stage. Do you have social media or LinkedIn?

Katie: I do. LinkedIn is probably the best one. I was forced to get Twitter, so now I’ve got a Twitter handle, but I don’t ever use Twitter really. I’m what’s considered old in the tech industry—

Jamie: As an elder millennial I’m gonna shut that down right now. What is this Twitter handle?

Katie: I believe it’s at @KatieKaczmarekD, and LinkedIn will just be Katie Kaczmarek. You should be able to find me on there.

Jamie: Well, wonderful. You have the full afternoon of day two to go frolic and enjoy.

Katie: And get the swag!

Jamie: And the swag! Thank you so much for joining me today.

Katie: No worries. Thank you.

Jamie Indigo can also be found on Twitter — and on Lumar’s professional services team. 

Our professional services team works directly with Lumar clients to provide bespoke technical SEO guidance, SEO audits and website reviews, tailored organic search strategy advice, and much, much more.

Want to work with Lumar’s expert tech SEOs? Get started with Lumar today!

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Avatar image for Jamie Indigo
Jamie Indigo

Former Senior Technical SEO at Lumar

Jamie Indigo is a Former Senior Technical SEO at Lumar and was part of our Professional Services team.


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