Regular expressions 101

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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.

Nico Brooks

Nico Brooks

Nico loves marketing analytics, running, and analytics about running. At Two Octobers, Nico is driven to build a culture where people with diverse perspectives, great communication, and no small amount of talent accomplish more than they ever could as individuals. Learn more about Nico or read more blogs he has written.

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