Regular expressions 101

In this video tutorial, we walk through key building blocks of regular expressions using the incredibly powerful REGEXEXTRACT function in Google Sheets. To follow along, make a copy of this Sheet. Topics covered:

  • Matching characters and sets of characters
  • Using ORs to match multiple things
  • Using escapes to match special characters
  • Matching the beginning and end of strings (input text)
  • Extracting substrings with capture groups
  • Bonus: the handy Sheets IFERROR function

A little bit of regex knowledge can go a long way. Regular expressions are supported in all major programming languages, and they are also available as a text/field matching option in many Google products including Analytics, Data Studio, and Tag Manager. For example:

  • Google Analytics
    • View filters
    • Goals – matching pages or event attributes
    • Content groupings
    • Customizing channel groupings
    • Matching dimensions in custom segments
  • Data Studio
    • Filters
    • Custom fields
  • Tag Manager
    • Triggers
    • Custom variables

A few resources mentioned in the video:

  • Regexr – web-based regex testing tool
  • RegexOne – step-by-step regular expression tutorials
  • SEMrush – the source of the sample data in the Sheet, and a fabulous toolset for SEO

And here’s a post I wrote a while back about searching-and-replacing in Sheets with regular expressions.

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