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6 Core Web Vitals Extraction Methods For CrUX With Pros & Cons

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6 Core Web Vitals Extraction Methods For CrUX With Pros & Cons


Since the announcement of the Page Experience update and its full rollout last September 2021, many SEO professionals worldwide have turned their attention to improving Core Web Vitals for the websites they manage.

Making sure that you have a good user experience across all browsers and devices is important from a business standpoint.

However, as SEO experts, we need to understand not only how users experience our site, but how Google is measuring Core Web Vitals and whether there is a way to get access to this data, as well.

That way, we not only benefit our users but know how Google judges our websites – and our competitors’ – within this specific area. This ultimately enables us to prioritize fixes based on this information.

With that in mind, in this article we’re exploring:

  • What data Google uses to measure Core Web Vitals.
  • What sources are available to extract this data and their limitations.
  • Which are the best sources for SEO purposes (from my point of view).
  • How to access these data sources, with examples.

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What Data Is Google Using To Measure Core Web Vitals?

Based on the information Google has provided, they are using the data collected in the Chrome User Experience Report to measure Core Web Vitals for Search.

They have announced this on multiple occasions, including John Mueller’s “Core Web Vitals & SEO” session at the Chrome Dev Summit in 2020 and most recently during the Web Vitals AMA session at Google I/O 2021.

Core Web Vitals and SEO, Google Chrome Developers, December 2020

The Chrome User Experience Report, or CrUX for short, gathers loading performance information from URLs visited by real Chrome users that meet specific criteria.

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To put this in context, when looking at Core Web Vitals measurement purely from Google’s point of view, they are looking at a segmented subset of your whole user base.

Browsers Split ExampleImage created by author, December 2021

Obviously, we can’t know what percentage of Chrome users are part of the CrUX report for any given website, as this is not disclosed by Google. Also, how big or small this subset is will depend entirely on your users.

In an ideal world, you should track Core Web Vitals on your site for all users with a third-party tool or using Google’s own web vitals library. However, the data in CrUX is the best information we have that it’s publicly available.

What Sources Are Available To Extract Core Web Vitals From The CrUX Database?

Knowing that Google is using CrUX data for Search, the next step is understanding how to get your hands on this data.

There are six ways of extracting Core Web Vitals from CrUX directly from Google:

  • CrUX API.
  • PageSpeed Insights API.
  • CrUX Data Studio Dashboard.
  • PageSpeed Insights Tool.
  • CrUX BigQuery project.
  • Google Search Console.
extraction methods core web vitals cruxImage created by author, December 2021

Each of these sources has its benefits and drawbacks. I’ve created a small framework to classify which one is best for the type of analysis you would normally do for SEO.

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The metrics included in this framework are:

  • URL Extraction: Can we extract CWV data for a specific URL (if available)?
  • Domain/Origin: Can we extract CWV data for a specific domain (if available)?
  • Devices: Can we segment the data by Mobile, Desktop, or Tablet?
  • Network Connection: Can we segment the data by the users’ network speed?
  • Fresh data: Do we get the most recent available data (last 28-days from the day of extraction)?
  • Historic data: Can we access data from previous months/years?
  • Cost-free: Can we access the data without paying?
  • Scalability: Can we extract this data easily for 1000s of URLs or domains?
  • UI Access: Does this data source have an easy-to-use user interface?

Ranking Of The Best Sources To Extract CrUX Data For SEO

Although this list might be a bit biased because I like to use programmatic solutions for my day-to-day work, I have tried all these methods before.

Hence, all the information here is based on my experience working on solving and monitoring Core Web Vitals issues for real clients.

Here is the list of methods to extract Core Web Vitals from Google and how they compare against each other based on my comparison framework.

Core Web Vitals field data extraction Comparison TableImage created by author, December 2021

1. The CrUX API

The CrUX API is, in my opinion, the easiest and most complete API to extract Core Web Vitals from CrUX overall.

See also  Google: Fine if 30-40% of URLs in Search Console Are 404s

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It is fairly straightforward to use and it contains all the information you might need to understand, report and monitor CWV issues for your websites.

Chrome UX report API screenshotScreenshot by author, December 2021

Pros

  • Both URL and Origin-level data are accessible through the API when these are available.
  • You can segment all three devices (Mobile, Desktop, and Tablet).
  • Network connection information is available. You can extract data for 4G, 3G, 2G, slow-2G, and offline.
  • You can extract the freshest available data which is the average aggregated data from the previous 28-days from the last complete day. This is (in theory) what Google Search uses to assess Core Web Vitals for a website.
  • It is completely free to use and easily scalable. The only quota limit is on the number of queries per minute which is 150. Additionally, it has a really fast response time in comparison to other APIs like the PageSpeed Insights API.

Cons

  • At the moment, there is no available access to historic data. Hence, you can only access the aggregation of the previous 28-days. However, this can be circumvented by storing the data daily for future access.
  • There is no easily accessible user interface for the API for now.

How To Access CWV Data With The CrUX API

My weapon of choice when it comes to API extraction is JavaScript, specifically Node.js. Therefore, the examples I’ll show you will mostly be in JavaScript.

If you don’t know how to run it, this short post explains how to install Node.js on your laptop so you can try these examples in your own time.

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// Create an index.js file, paste the code below & run `npm install axios` in your terminal

/* Modules */
const axios = require('axios');

/* Script Variables */
const apiKey = 'YOUR-API-KEY-HERE' // Get your key here https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-user-experience-report/api/guides/getting-started#APIKey
const cruxEndpoint = `https://chromeuxreport.googleapis.com/v1/records:queryRecord?key=${apiKey}`;

// Custom function to call the CruX API
const getApiData = async (type, url) => {
  // Create request body
  const req = {}
  req[type] = url

  // Send API Request
  const { data } = await axios(cruxEndpoint, {
    method: 'POST',
    headers: {
      'Content-Type': `application/json`,
    },
    data: JSON.stringify(req)
  });
  return data
}

// Run script (IIFE) - Change 'type' & 'URL'
(async () => {
  const testOrigin = await getApiData('origin', 'https://builtvisible.com')
  const testURL = await getApiData('url', 'https://builtvisible.com')
  console.log(testOrigin, testURL);
})()

If you would like me to share a fully-fetched version that loops through all possible devices & connections for a list of URLs, let me know on Twitter.

2. The PageSpeed Insights API

The PageSpeed Insights API is a close second when it comes to extracting field data from CrUX.

It gives us very useful information but there are a few missing dimensions compared to the CrUX API that could be helpful when diagnosing CWV issues for your sites.

PageSpeed Insights API screenshotScreenshot by author, December 2021

Pros

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  • Both URL and Origin-level data is accessible through the API when these are available.
  • You can segment the data by Mobile & Desktop.
  • Same as the CrUX API, you can extract the freshest available data which is the average aggregated data from the previous 28-days from the last complete day.
  • It is completely free to use and easily scalable. There is a quota limit of 240 requests per minute and 25,000 per day.
  • You can access this API through an easy-to-use user interface with the PageSpeed Insights Tool from Google (although it’s not that scalable).

Cons

  • You can’t segment the data by Tablet users.
  • No network connection information is available. Hence, all the different connections are aggregated when extracting CWV data.
  • At the moment, there is no available access to historic data. Hence, you can only access the aggregation of the previous 28-days. This can be solved by storing the data daily for future access.
  • This service runs Lighthouse in the background to get lab metrics in the same requests. Hence, the API response is a bit slower than the CrUX API.
See also  Google on Partial and Total Site Deindexing

How To Access CWV Data With The PageSpeed Insights API

Here is a small example of how you can extract CWV data from the PageSpeed Insights API. If you want a plug-and-play script to run you can download my repository from Github.

// Create an index.js file, paste the code below & run `npm install axios` in your terminal

/* Modules */
const axios = require('axios');

/* Script Variables */
const apiKey = 'YOUR-API-KEY-HERE' // Get your key here https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/v5/get-started#APIKey

// Custom function to extract data from PageSpeed API
const getApiData = async (url) => {
  const endpoint="https://www.googleapis.com/pagespeedonline/v5/runPagespeed";
  const apiResponse = await axios(`${endpoint}?url=${url}&key=${apiKey}`); // Create HTTP call
  const urlCWV = apiResponse.data.loadingExperience; // Extract URL field
  const domainCWV = apiResponse.data.originLoadingExperience; // Extract domain field data

  console.log(urlCWV, domainCWV); // Log URL field data and Domain Field data if available
  return { urlCWV, domainCWV };
};

// Call your custom function
getApiData('https://www.searchenginejournal.com/category/seo/');

3. The CrUX BigQuery Project

The CrUX BigQuery project is a huge database of real user metrics records that dates back to October 2017. This huge project is full of great information. But like any other source, it has pros and cons.

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Pros

  • You can access origin-level data.
  • You can segment all three devices (Mobile, Desktop, and Tablet).
  • You can extract data for all types of network connections when available (4G, 3G, 2G, slow-2G and offline).
  • You can extract historic data beyond the last available month up until October 2017.
  • You can scale this for as many projects as you want and the data is very flexible with the potential to create your own custom tables if you wish.
  • There are additional metrics and dimensions that could be useful for your analysis but are not available in the CrUX API or PageSpeed Insights APIs like “Time To First Byte” or country-level segmentation.

Cons

  • You cannot access URL-level data.
  • This dataset is updated every second Tuesday of the month for the previous month. Hence, if you want to monitor CWV more regularly this wouldn’t be the right source.
  • You need a working understanding of SQL to dig into the data.
  • It costs money to run. Although there is a free usage tier on BigQuery, you will need to add billing details within Google Cloud Platform in order to use it. Don’t get discouraged by this. For small to medium-scale reporting, you should be within the free tier.

How To Access CWV Data With The CrUX BigQuery Project

If you already have a Google Cloud Platform account, you can access the project using this link.

You’ll need to enable the BigQuery API. Once enabled you can access the data straight from your SQL editor.

SQL example Big Query CrUX ExtractionScreenshot by author, December 2021

You don’t have to be an expert on SQL but a bit of familiarity would take you a long way.

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Here are two fantastic resources that will help you kick-start your journey when analyzing this data: Rick Viscomi’s CrUX Cookbook and Paul Calvano’s Biguery for CrUX tutorial.

Until now, I’ve only explained data sources that require a bit of programming knowledge. But you don’t need to know how to code in order to get your hands on Core Web Vitals data from the CrUX report.

The next three methods will allow you to access Core Web Vitals data from CrUX without programming knowledge.

4. The PageSpeed Insights Tool

The PageSpeed Insights Tool from Google is a perfectly good “no-code” alternative to get access to CruX data.

PageSpeed Insights ToolScreenshot by author, December 2021

The benefits are exactly the same as the ones for the PageSpeed Insight API but the only drawback is that this method is not very scalable.

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In order to get data from multiple URLs, you will need to manually input each URL into the tool.

How To Access CWV Data With The PageSpeed Insights Tool

Input the URL/domain that you would like to get data from in the PageSpeed Insights Tool.

If there is available information for both the URL or the domain (origin), you will find it at the top of the results shown after the tool has finished running.

core web vitals PSI toolScreenshot by author, December 2021

5. The CrUX Data Studio Dashboard

The CrUX Data Studio Dashboard is a fantastic tool built by Rick Viscomi to access the CrUX Big Query project very easily with a nice user interface.

CrUX Data Studio DasboardScreenshot by author, December 2021

Pros

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  • You can access Origin-level data.
  • You can segment all three devices (Mobile, Desktop, and Tablet).
  • You can extract data for all types of network connections when available (4G, 3G, 2G, slow-2G and offline).
  • You can extract historic data beyond the last available month.
  • It is completely free to build.
  • It is very easy to set up and has a simple user interface.
  • There are additional metrics that could be useful for your analysis but are not available in the other APIs like Time To First Byte.

Cons

  • You cannot access URL-level data.
  • This report is tied to the data available in the Big Query project which is updated every second Tuesday of the month for the previous month. Hence, if you want to monitor CWV data more regularly it’s not possible through this data source.
  • This method is not really scalable if you are planning to monitor more than a few domains.

How To Access CWV Data With The CrUX Data Studio Dashboard

Create a copy of the template directly on Data Studio through g.co/chromeuxdash.

You can then add the domain you are interested in, hit “Create report” and you will get the report from the latest available month.

CrUX Data Studio Dashboard setupScreenshot by author, December 2021

If you receive an error, make sure you have added the domain name correctly.

Alternatively, it might be that your domain isn’t included in the BigQuery dataset. You can find more information about how this report works in Rick Viscomi’s post on web.dev.

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6. Search Console’s Core Web Vitals Report

Search Console’s Core Web Vitals Report is a relatively new addition to the GSC platform. It is useful but quite unique in terms of the metrics it displays per property.

Search Console’s Core Web Vitals ReportScreenshot by author, December 2021

Pros

  • You can access data at template-level which is a unique approach to the rest of the methodologies. This is a really good idea and in many cases, the aggregation works as expected.
  • You can segment the data by Mobile & Desktop.
  • In principle, you can extract the freshest available data which is the average aggregated data from the previous 28-days from the last complete day.
  • There is 90-days worth of data but only by the number of affected URLs per group (good metric, needs improvement metric, poor metric)
  • The GSC user interface is very easy to use.

Cons

  • You cannot access URL-level data or origin-level data. The data is aggregated by “similar URLs” and “Aggregated metric” value which is good but it’s harder to track individual URL progress.
  • You cannot download the individual URLs matched as “similar”, only the total number.
  • You can’t segment the data by Tablet users.
  • No network connection information is available.
  • At the moment, there is no available access to historic data beyond the previous 90 days.

How To Access CWV Data With Search Console

The only way to extract the data is through the user interface for now. The report is divided between “Mobile” and “Desktop”.

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Each device cateogry contains individual “Poor”, “Needs Improvement” and “Good” reports for each of the Core Web Vital metrics (LCP, CLS, FID).

GSC CWV report example for LCPScreenshot by author, December 2021

Each report has an export function (CSV, Excel, or Google Sheet) that will allow you to download a table with the “base URL,” the number of “Similar URLs” and the “aggregated metric” value per group.

It also allows the number of URLs affected within that subsection for the last 90 days.

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Final Thoughts

Regardless of your coding skills, there are many ways to extract Core Web Vitals data from CrUX to monitor your websites and competitors.

If you are comfortable with a little bit of programming and looking to monitor Core Web Vitals on a regular basis at scale, the CrUX API will be your best solution.

Alternatively, if you are more focused on general domain trends and don’t need the data that often without needing to track lots of different domains, the CrUX Data Studio Dashboard would be the most comfortable solution.

Remember that measuring how our websites are performing against Google’s CWV benchmarks is the first step towards improving them. Because without a goal, you can’t score.

Keep in mind though, that as our Technical Director William Nye always tells us, “Strategy is important but execution is everything.”

More resources:

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10 Advanced SEO Skills To Level Up Your Career

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10 Advanced SEO Skills To Level Up Your Career


Many of us get to a stage in our careers as SEO professionals where we feel a little bit stagnant.

We’ve been optimizing sites for a while and feel pretty confident that we can do it well.. but there’s that nagging thought there’s more we could be doing.

That there is another layer of expertise that would make us more efficient, employable, and confident.

In this article, you’ll find 10 skills that can level up your SEO competency.

These aren’t necessarily essential skills for all SEO experts (you’ll find those here).

But developing these advanced SEO skills could help you go deeper within your specialism, become a more well-rounded marketer, and bump you into a new salary or freelance rate, too.

1. Intent Analysis

Intent analysis is the decoding of a user’s intention behind the keyword they enter into a search engine.

When someone types [pizza restaurant] into a search engine, what is the end result they are hoping for?

Do they want to know what pizza restaurants are nearby?

Are they in the market to open a pizza restaurant?

Are they looking for a job in a pizza restaurant?

Developing your understanding of the psychology behind what searchers want is a critical skill for those wishing to go further in their SEO competency.

This will help you both satisfy a user’s need when they land on a page and also increase your page’s likelihood of being ranked in their search.

It can’t just stop there, however.

You must also understand what the search engines perceive users to want from the content they are searching for.

For instance, from my location in the U.K., if I search for [pizza restaurants] in Google from my desktop device, I get a mixture of results.

I get the option to click through to search on other websites:

Screenshot from search for [pizza restaurants], Google, January 2022

This is followed by the Map Pack and then a mix of review and editorial sites and restaurants’ websites.

If I am trying to rank a website all about the history of pizza restaurants in my country, I might struggle.

Google has identified the user intent as being either navigation – wanting to go to a local restaurant – or comparative, as in wanting to compare options in the local area.

Resources To Learn More

2. Coding

There is no question that understanding HTML, CSS, and JavaScript can help you to ensure your websites are set up in a bot-friendly manner.

Although SEO experts do not need to be fully-fledged developers, having an understanding of code can help you to identify issues with rendering, indexation, and crawlability.

There are times when knowing the basics of how code is created, or being able to read code that already exists, can help your SEO.

It can aid your communication with the developers who may need to change it.

It can assist you in pinpointing incremental improvements to your site’s performance.

Learning to code is not a prerequisite for SEO, but it is arguable that knowing the fundamentals of these three commonly used languages is going to set you up well for your career.

Understanding the syntax of code, how it is formed, and being able to see how elements relate to each other can also help you get better at writing and debugging schema.

Learning Python and SQL can also help you to streamline your SEO processes by enabling you to automate labor-intensive activities such as mapping URL redirects and keyword research.

Resources To Learn More

3. Understanding Server Management

No SEO professional should really be the one responsible for ensuring that a server can handle a load of visitors to a site.

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However, understanding the basics of how servers can impact the crawlability, load speed and reliability of a website can propel your technical SEO understanding forwards.

The use of CDNs instead of static servers can aid in speeding up content loading, but without understanding the limitations of fixed location servers it will be difficult for you to argue the need for a CDN.

A better understanding of how web hosting can affect a user’s experience of your site and also Google’s ability to access it is necessary for strong technical SEO foundations.

You need to understand how aspects like uptime and location can impact your site’s performance in the search engines.

This is only the beginning of how knowledge of servers can aid your SEO efforts.

Better knowledge of server codes beyond the standard 404 and 301 can help you to communicate to those in charge of your servers where there are critical issues.

Know what a 502 error is?

Encountered a 504 status code before?

If not, this might be a quick and easy area for you to brush up your knowledge.

A 5XX status usually means there is something wrong with the server that is preventing the processing of a request from the client.

A simple way to find out what status codes mean is to look at httpstatuses.com.

From here, you can identify whether it is an issue with the client or the server and find a fix accordingly.

Resources To Learn More

4. Content Writing

Understanding the process of content writing is an important element of advanced SEO.

You may not be a great wordsmith yourself.

However, in order for you to better brief in copywriting for your colleagues who are, you need to understand what goes into a good piece of writing.

It isn’t enough to know that copy needs to be compelling and have sufficient relevancy to search terms used to discover it.

Get familiar with the process your copywriters go through in researching, writing, and editing their work.

This will help you to better ideate your own requests for copy.

Editing

Editing is another good skill to develop when working with content.

In many organizations, it is the job of the SEO specialist to take content created by others and optimize it further for the search engines.

In practice, this sadly can often result in well-written copy being butchered.

Adding keywords into the first couple of paragraphs to make them more keyword-rich might help you a bit with your rankings, but it could destroy your conversion and brand loyalty.

Learn how to take well-written copy and enhance it, not ruin it.

You may also benefit from having a conversation or two with your SEO copywriters and asking them for details of their process.

Better understanding how they go about copywriting could improve your abilities.

It could also streamline your processes when working together.

Resources To Learn More

5. Reporting

Being able to expertly communicate your progress, results, and reasoning behind your SEO work is crucial to being successful in the industry.

As an SEO expert, you are always juggling the needs and expectations of stakeholders, whether you’re working in-house, agency-side or freelance.

You will find gaining buy-in and budgets considerably easier if you know how to demonstrate the impact of the work you do.

Reporting isn’t just a case of adding labels to a graph or even noting down the cause of increases and decreases.

Truly good SEO reports allow readers to understand the context of the results, draw conclusions and make business decisions from them.

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SEO professionals need to get really good at helping stakeholders understand the priorities and limitations of the work they recommend (as well as mistakes to avoid when reporting).

They also need to help their interested parties recognize how the work will benefit them via data visualizations and their objectives in the long run.

All of this can be achieved through well-constructed, clear, and truthful reports.

Resources To Learn More

6. SEO Forecasting

Similar to the need to be good at explaining past results, experienced SEOs need to develop the ability to calculate likely outcomes.

SEO forecasting is a complicated science.

There are a lot of external factors that are hard to isolate and predict.

A change in competition, the market, or political situations could all cause well-thought-out estimations to go awry.

We should not be putting pressure on ourselves to accurately predict the exact volume of traffic, or visibility, our work might gain.

However, being able to put reasonable estimates and likely ranges into our recommendations can make the budget-holders a lot more reassured by the work we are proposing.

It isn’t enough to shrug our shoulders and cross our fingers when asked about outcomes.

We’re often requesting a lot of time, money and resources go into the activity were recommending.

SEO forecasting is a skill that will not only set you apart when looking for new roles or opportunities, it will also significantly improve the quality and reliability of your work.

Resources To Learn More

7. Log File Analysis

Log file analysis is the process of understanding the records of who or what has accessed your website.

They can tell you when people have visited a page as well as what device they were using to do so.

They can also tell you when bots access your website.

This is particularly helpful in understanding Googlebot and other search engine crawlers’ behavior on your site.

By analyzing log files you can better understand what pages search engine bots can or can’t access.

You can identify where there may be spider traps on your site or the frequency at which certain sections of your site are being crawled.

Log files can appear daunting if you have not spent much time around them.

Thankfully there are some great tools available that make analyzing them a lot simpler than just wading through the naked log files.

Understanding what to do with the information once you have it is the real skill. If you know that a certain area of your site is rarely crawled by Google that should inform your technical SEO next steps.

It should raise questions about your internal linking structure.

Getting familiar with log files is a great first step but to improve your skills make sure you are analyzing the files and drawing actionable conclusions from them.

Resources To Learn More

8. Website Migrations

Getting good at planning and executing website migrations is not easy. It really does take experience.

Many SEO professionals who have worked exclusively brand-side may find they simply have not had the opportunity to carry out that many website migrations.

If you face a particularly complicated one, such as multiple websites merging, it can be very daunting.

Chances are if you have spent any length of time in an SEO agency, you will have migrated a website or two.

It may have been a smooth process but more likely there were unforeseen complications that made the processing time and resource consuming.

There are not really just one or two skills involved in website migrations.

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They are usually a complicated mix of stakeholder management, communication, planning, processes-driving, technical understanding, and knowing when to say no.

But the skills you develop during website migrations will help you enormously with the rest of your SEO career.

Participate in one if you get the chance.

It can give you a great (albeit high-pressured) opportunity to see multiple moving SEO parts in play at once.

Resources to learn more:

9. Optimizing For Other Search Engines

If you truly want to advance your SEO skills, you might want to look further afield than Google.

We can often fall into the trap of thinking only about the traditional search engines when discussing SEO skills.

If we limit our training and experience to just these then we could be missing out on a much larger opportunity.

Traditional International Websites

Many search engines work on similar principles, but with their own specific nuances.

Traditional search engines more prevalent outside of your home region may be unfamiliar to you.

There are some great resources available to get you started in understanding the differences between them and the search engines you’re more familiar with optimizing for.

Nothing beats practice, however.

If you want to refine your knowledge and understanding of unfamiliar search engines then you need to try to rank a site in them and see what works and what doesn’t.

YouTube

For search engines like YouTube, the mechanics may be more familiar to you.

You will, however, still need to learn more about the algorithms in play to ensure you are carrying out the right activity to optimize your video content for the platform.

Other Non-traditional Search Engines

Don’t just stop at YouTube if you’re really wanting to advance your SEO skill set.

Take a look at some other search engines, like Pinterest and TripAdvisor.

These sites may not fit into your current remit as an SEO expert.

They are however still search engines that you can influence the success of your content in.

Resources to learn more:

10. International SEO

One of the most complicated projects an SEO might be involved in usually includes international elements.

It’s a complicated task because there are a lot of factors at play.

To optimize your website for international audiences you will need to employ technical SEO, digital PR, and on-page optimization skills.

There will be a range of questions you’ll need to ask yourself when you are considering expanding a website to international audiences.

These will include questions around the structure of the site – separate sites, sub-folders, or sub-directories?

Do you want to translate or localize the content? Do you want to target geography at the site or page level?

There are a lot of strategies and technical knowledge required to get international SEO right.

You may also need specific language skills or local knowledge resources.

Google has helpfully created an introduction to managing a multi-region website. It is a good place to start to identify the sorts of questions you should be asking.

You can also use it as a jumping-off point for further training or research.

This can help deepen your knowledge of the subject and sharpen your skills.

Resources to learn more:

Conclusion

These are just a few of the skills you can develop to become a more pragmatic SEO professional.

Even if you don’t want to learn all of them, it helps to have an understanding of what they all are.

Even more so, how they can help round out your skill-set as an SEO expert.

More resources:


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How to Get More Reach and Shares on Your Social Videos

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How-to-Get-More-Reach-and-Shares-on-Your-Social-Videos


Video marketing is thriving. Industry thought leaders predict video to take an even firmer stance in the years to come, as people don’t want to read that much and images aren’t nearly as dynamic. Companies and small businesses realize the power of video and plug into the video making trend.

Maxwell Hertan, Director of Megaphone Marketing, put it best:

In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg told Buzzfeed News, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if you fast forward five years and most of the content that people see on Facebook and are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video’. Well, here we are – take a look at your newsfeed. Mostly video? We thought so.

At the same time, there’s been a lot of talk about the new Facebook reach algorithm that makes it close to impossible to make your content seen organically. Some experts predict organic reach to decline significantly on Instagram, too.

In this competitive environment, how do you get more eyes on your video content on social?

Here are 9 surefire ways to give your videos a competitive edge and make them spread like a wildfire.

While you make your video…

In order for your video to get more reach and shares, it has to be engaging in the first place. Which means: your video needs to evoke emotion, be educational, fun, or cute. Preferably all at the same time.

Here’s how.

Make the first seconds count

The more viewers share your video content – the more reach it gets. The more reach it gets – the more new viewers might be able to see it. But before they share your video, the #1 task is to convince your viewer to watch it first. When scrolling through the feed, you only have fractions of a second to show your audience the video is worth seeing.

Add stickers and GIFs

Animated GIFs and stickers have been in the marketer’s arsenal for a while now. They have become a universal communication language, easily understandable by people all around the globe.

Add stickers and GIFs

By adding GIFs or animated stickers to your videos, you make them more relatable and fun, showing the audience you speak their language. GIFs and stickers can also make your videos more comprehensible, giving them an additional sense.

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To add GIFs and stickers to your videos, use tools like Wave.video or Camtasia. Another cool to create animated ads is called Creatopy. Using their “Animator” feature you can give life to any of your ad elements:

creatopy

State what your video is going to be about

To warm up the viewer’s interest, tell them what your social video is going to be about. You don’t have to reveal all the details: this way, it won’t probably be as interesting to watch. A teasing headline will do just great.

State what your video is going to be about

Don’t forget the subtitles

Since 85% of videos are watched with the sound off on social, it does make sense to optimize your video for this behavior. One of the best ways to do it is by adding subtitles or short text on your video.

Platforms like Facebook and YouTube allow you to add captions automatically. If the video doesn’t have a voiceover, you can simply add a short text to every scene, like in this example coming from National Geographic:

Don't forget the subtitles

When you share it…

Now, to create an engaging and fun video is only half the battle. The other half is to share it on social properly. Here are a few tips that might help you out.

Choose a catchy thumbnail

Just the other day, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I stumbled upon this video.

Choose a catchy thumbnail

Even though I wasn’t inclined to watch a video of a girl shaving her hair off, I simply couldn’t resist. I immediately had to know what’s going to happen next. Is she really going bald? (Spoiler alert: she didn’t).

Would I have watched the video if it had had a different, less catchy thumbnail?

Probably not.

So, when uploading your videos to social, make sure to select a catchy thumbnail. By “catchy” I mean a thumbnail that builds anticipation and thirst to know more.

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube allow you to upload a thumbnail for your video.

upload a thumbnail for your video

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube allow you to upload a thumbnail for your video.

Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t have this option. So, make sure the very first second of your video is meaningful, as it’s what’s going to show in the tweet.

Twitter video

Twitter does not allow to customize the thumbnail

Add a catchy description

While a social video itself is a powerful marketing instrument, a description that goes with it is just as important. All the social media platforms allow you to add a post accompanying the video.

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Here are a few things that can help you increase the chances of your audience sharing the video:

  • Make the description intriguing. Use power words like “surprise”, “whopping”, or “scandalous” to heat up the viewers’ interest and make them crave for more.
  • Include hashtags. Using hashtags in your social posts might help you significantly increase the reach of your videos. Use tools like Hashtagify to help you find the right hashtags for your posts.
  • Tag people! It might sound obvious but you’ll be surprised to see how many businesses miss out on this opportunity. Mentioning people (or even brands, for that matter) in your social posts allows you to easily notify them that you’ve created something interesting and thought of them, too.
tag video

Mentioning people (or even brands, for that matter) in your social posts allows you to easily notify them that you’ve

Upload your videos natively

The #1 goal for any social platform is to make people stay on the platform longer. Thus, all major social platforms (including LinkedIn) are heavily investing in video, adding new features like live videos and Stories.

To increase the reach of your videos, it does make sense to upload them natively. This means that instead of sharing a link to a YouTube video (or any other video hosting platform, for that matter), I’d recommend that you upload your video directly to a social media platform using their uploading features.

There are some great advantages to upload videos natively:

  • They are auto-played if this function is not turned off in the settings
  • Reach is higher than that of simple posts with links
  • You can embed the video tweet on your blog or landing page and get more reach

Post at the right time

Even if you come up with the most fascinating video and a stunning description, only a few people will see it if you post it when all of your audience is asleep. For more reach and shares, make sure to post your video content at a time when your audience is most active.

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Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recommending the best time to post. It depends on many factors: the social platform, your audience, type of content. Here are a few solid guides that can give you an idea:

Reshare far and wide

Once you’ve shared your video on social media, make sure to go back to your scheduling tool and schedule another round of shares. Chances are, some people might have just missed your video when you shared it the first time. Make sure to give it another go.

You can slice and dice your video, and share different parts of video at different times, with various messages. You can also use video content in your newsletter.

You can also repurpose your videos. For instance, create an Instagram Story from a horizontal video by adding margins and captions to it.

repurpose video

Create an Instagram Story from a horizontal video by adding margins and captions to it.

We took a horizontal video and repurposed it into an Instagram Story

With Instagram in particular, you can also reshare your in-feed posts to Stories. Chances are, in 2019 there are going to be more people who watch Stories than those who check out in-feed videos. So make sure you serve both.

Monitor your traffic!

Don’t forget to set up your monitoring routine to keep an eye on how your video content is growing and what type of traffic it is referring. I love using Finteza for traffic analytics because it allows me to see exactly how your traffic is interacting with your conversion funnel:

finteza-youtube-funnel

Conclusion

When it comes to promoting your social videos and driving more reach/engagement, here’s a path to success: have a great video first, post at the right time, and follow the social platform’s guidelines for native uploads.

What are your favorite tips on getting more shares on your social videos? Share in the comments below!

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Olga Bedrina

Olga Bedrina is the Director of Content Marketing at Wave.video, free online video maker. She is excited about video marketing, social media, and new technologies.

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6 Tips For Giving Your Reporting Dashboards A Makeover

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6 Tips For Giving Your Reporting Dashboards A Makeover


In their new book ‘Making Numbers Count,’ co-authors Chip Heath and Karla Starr explain that our brains have not evolved to easily understand large numbers.

We really only have an instinct for small quantities – as in, five and fewer.

Beyond that, it’s just some vague notion of “lots.”

But with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created every day, dealing only with the numbers 0 to 5 in our reporting is a luxury we don’t have.

Data visualizations serve to transform and compare large amounts of data, but most reporting dashboards today are still like 1990s websites.

We put up with them, but they’re ugly and awful, and we wouldn’t trust them with our credit cards.

Non-strategic reports – dashboards that are too cluttered or too sparse to comprehend – make it harder for your clients and stakeholders to understand the data and take smart action.

Here’s how to turn those clunky dashboards into useful analysis.

1. Get Rid Of Charts That Have No Purpose

Not every chart in your dashboard deserves to be there.

Image created by author, January 2022

Unnecessary charts distract and compete for attention with graphs that do matter.

They can also derail meetings, encouraging your client to focus on minutia and natural variance rather than the essential.

Not all data breakouts are useful. Some are just useless, and some are anti-useful.

Make each chart earn its place in the dashboard by removing everything that doesn’t:

  • Tie back to objectives.
  • Provide context.
  • Aid comprehension.

2. Get Rid Of “Unnecessary Ink”

Statistician and dataviz pioneer Edward Tufte explains,

“…clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.”

Tufte introduced the “data-ink ratio,” which tells us to strip all decorative or extra “ink” from charts until we’re left with only the essential.

a side-by-side comparison of a chart with decorative background colors, and one with only the barsImage created by author, January 2022

Improve your data-ink ratio by minimizing or removing:

  • Any bevel or 3D effects.
  • Gridlines.
  • Redundant chart legends.
  • Chart borders and shadows.
  • Background color fills.
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Tables are inherently busy, showing a lot of data all at once.

To make your tables easier to read:

  • Remove pagination and row numbers.
  • Use compacted numbers (12M instead of 12,000,000).
  • Remove truncation (“…”) by expanding the column width or wrapping text.
  • Remove decimals (when numbers are >1).
    Low data ink vs. high data inkImage created by author, January 2022

When you introduce white space and eliminate chartjunk, your reports tell a clearer story.

3. Fix Misleading Axes

Sometimes charts are so intentionally misleading that they end up making headlines.

job charts sorted by various criteriaImage created by author, January 2022

More often, though, charts that mislead do so unintentionally.

Here’s how to find and fix common data visualization mistakes.

One common mistake is using a “truncated graph,” where the y-axis doesn’t start at 0.

Truncated graphs are so common that Google Data Studio uses them by default in some of its chart options.

The fix for this is easy.

Just set any “axis minimums” from auto to zero.

a chart with a non-0 y-axis corrected to 0Image created by author, January 2022 

While less common, charts can sometimes have an inappropriate maximum.

This can happen when you’ve hardcoded the max axis based on a previous data set, and you forget to update it when it’s using a different data range.

Also a very easy fix.

Another issue is using a “logarithmic scale” for your charts.

When you’ve tried to get a chart to look a certain way and nothing else worked, you may have switched over to log scale for better visualization.

Unless you’re truly working with logarithmic data though, that’s not okay.

Change it back to linear.

4. Fix Poor Chart Selection

Chart selection is not as easy as just changing an axis. But it’s arguably more important, and easier to get wrong.

Campaign conversion ratesImage created by author, January 2022

Have you ever tried to use a chart selection guide, only to be asked whether your data is nominal or categorical?

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If you’re not fluent in data visualization, then it can feel easier to just stick with trial and error until you land on something that looks okay.

Marketer’s Crash Course In Chart Selection

This is not a complete guide, but it covers a lot of dashboard mistakes:

  • Use scorecards for your big KPIs, even if the same data is in tables and other graphs in the report. It emphasizes what’s most important.
  • Use line charts to show trends over time. If your x-axis is anything other than a time series (continuous data), don’t use a line chart.
  • Only use pie/donut charts to show the composition of a whole, ideally with five or fewer categories. Need to compare pie charts to each other to show a change in composition? You probably need a different chart type. A stacked bar chart could be a good choice.
  • Map charts are a good way to visualize data across regions, and clients seem to like them. Be sure that you’re not just mapping population data though, which is generally not helpful in making business decisions.
  • Bar charts work well to compare category performance for a single metric. Think sales driven by (campaign, landing page, etc).
various chart stylesImage created by author, January 2022

5. Add Contrast

Removing “unnecessary ink” from your charts puts you on the right track.

This next step is to layer on “necessary ink” that focuses your reader’s attention and makes your chart even easier to interpret.

These three charts all use an identical data set:

3 charts of identical data, with different lines weighted for emphasisImage created by author, January 2022

Chart A has no focus and feels “noisy.”

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Charts B and C vary line thickness and color to draw your attention to a single line.

Even though you don’t know the actual metrics or dimensions in Charts B and C, you immediately know where to focus.

This is an example of using “pre-attentive attributes,” which our brains process instantly on a subconscious level.

When you want to emphasize a key point, you can increase contrast with preattentive attributes like:

Less content vs. more content chartImage created by author, January 2022

Don’t leave your audience asking “what am I looking at?”

Help them out with contrast and preattentive attributes.

6. Add Context

Context is another type of “necessary ink” that clarifies the meaning of your visualizations.

As a marketer and subject matter expert, you know what your charts are about.

You can survey all your dashboards and quickly identify trends and outliers.

For your clients and stakeholders, that’s probably not the case.

The people on the receiving end of your reports are likely not intimately familiar with the acronyms and shorthand that’s obvious to you.

They need more context in the form of:

  • Chart titles and descriptions.
  • Acronyms that are spelled out and defined.
  • Annotations and microcopy.

Your audience also needs a better understanding of the factors driving the trends and data changes in the report.

The metric is the “effect,” but what is the “cause”?

Covid-19 impact on paid search chartImage created by author, January 2022

Look beyond the metrics themselves to find the narrative.

  • What are the internal and external forces that contribute to performance?
  • What backstory might they be missing (historical, seasonality, competition, buyer preference)?
  • Given current and projected trends, what needs to happen next?

Finally, don’t assume that your audience knows the targets, even if they were the ones who set them.

Help them out by comparing performance to goals and not just previous time periods.

Conclusion

‘Presentation Zen’ author Garr Reynolds said,

“…you can achieve simplicity in the design of effective charts, graphs and tables by remembering three fundamental principles: restrain, reduce, emphasize.”

Remove what is unnecessary, fix remaining problems, and add context and meaning to make your charts and dashboards as powerful as possible.

More resources:


Featured Image: Saklakova/Shutterstock





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