Episode 5

The One Where We Discuss Core Web Vitals With Natalie Mott

Published on: 11th May, 2021

In this week's episode, Sarah and Areej chat to Natalie Mott, freelance SEO consultant, about all things core web vitals. We also find out what inspires Natalie and what empowers her to be the brilliant woman she is today.

Where to find Natalie:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/njmott

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalie-mott/

Core Web Vitals Resources:

https://web.dev/ - All Google's guidance on Core Web Vitals

https://web.dev/chrome-ux-report-data-studio-dashboard/ - Google's own Data Studio dashboard for tracking stats from the CrUX report

https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/v5/get-started - Link PageSpeed Insights with ScreamingFrog to pull CrUX data for every page on your site as you crawl

https://developer.chrome.com/docs/devtools/ - use Chrome DevTools to drill down and work out which parts of your page are affecting your CWV scores. In particular, if you are looking to see what part of the page has the LCP, or when a Layout Shift is occurring, you can use Performance > Show Web Vitals to pinpoint where this is happening

https://corewebvitals.iprospect.com/ - a good summary of the state of play in every industry from iProspect

https://reddico.co.uk/tools/serp-speed/ - check how you and competitors are performing for Core Web Vitals on a keyword level

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Episode Sponsor

Massive shout out to DeepCrawl for supporting the WTSPodcast and sponsoring this episode.

DeepCrawl offers the complete end-to-end technical SEO platform with the tools and integrations you need to grow — detecting technical improvements that will help you drive growth, and protecting your website from harmful code through SEO testing automation.

Where to find DeepCrawl:

Website - https://www.deepcrawl.com/

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/deepcrawl

Twitter - https://twitter.com/DeepCrawl

Facebook - https://facebook.com/deepcrawlHD

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Episode Transcript

Sarah: Hello and welcome to the Women in Tech SEO podcast, where your hosts are myself, Sarah McDowell, SEO Content Executive at Holland and Barrett, and the delightful Areej AbuAli, who is a SEO Consultant and the Founder of the epic Women in Tech SEO community. This week, we have the wonderful Natalie Mott joining us, who is an SEO all-rounder with core interests in technical SEO, content strategy, project management and outreach. She has had senior SEO positions at several digital agencies and is thoroughly enjoying spending time in the world of freelance consultant. A very warm welcome and hello to the both of you.

This episode is sponsored by DeepCrawl. DeepCrawl offers the complete end-to-end technical SEO platform with the tools and integrations you need to grow. Detecting technical improvements that will help you drive growth and protecting your website from harmful code through SEO testing automation. Discover just how deep pools technical SEO platform can help you increase your search performance and revenue by visiting their website: deepcrawl.com. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Sarah: Thank you so much for spending your Saturday morning with me and Areej. Very, very appreciative. How are we doing? How's  your morning been?

Natalie: Quite productive, actually quite got up early. Had a good, good breakfast. That's a bit unusual for Saturday to be honest, but yeah, it was going very well. How about yourself?

Areej: Yeah, all good. All good over here. I'm just really, really excited to have you here with us. We've met several times, since the very start of the Women in Tech SEO community. But I'd love you to tell the community, a bit more about you. So how did you first get into SEO?

Natalie: Well, I think it's probably a similar story to a lot of people. I sort of fell into it a long time ago now. I, I didn't, I didn't have a clue what it was. Although I'd been involved with website building from being a teenager, you know, I took a website development qualification at the age of 16, so I was very much online.

I didn't know what SEO was when I went into my first job as a data researcher for a hotel advertising website. And it was, it was amazing. It was completely aligned with how my brain works as a thing to do. So I was obsessed with it. And as soon as I was introduced to it as a concept, but yeah, I studied music at university. I had no idea what SEO was until I started that first job. 

Areej: I know that you've talked a lot before, about how much you really enjoy the world of freelance consultancy. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you found that journey so far?

Natalie: Yeah. Anyone who will listen. I don't shut up about it, but it's so I'm so much better suited to self-employment it's probably not for everybody.

And certainly through lockdown. I've thought at some points that I might've preferred the structure of having a full-time role or being part of a team. It can be quite lonely as a, as a freelancer, not just, not immediately having a team to bounce ideas off of. I didn't realize how much I valued that when I was on the agency side.

So like the projects I love the most are the ones where I am working with agency teams or within house teams. And I'm sort of part of the crew. But overall, it, it is just, it's good to have control of your own schedule. You get a bit more control over, you know, like you're, you're just going to be really Frank, your earning potential.

It's so much more when you're self employed. Seriously, in a sense, it's a bit of a, it's a bit of a, you know, that's, that's how they get it's a bit of a scam. Maybe edit that bit out, but. It's just awesome. I still love it. It can be very, very stressful, but it can be very, very wonderful. And that's what I'll say about it.

Sarah: Yes. I suppose with things that are challenging and stressful they can also be very rewarding at the same time. Can't they? Lovely. Well, it's wonderful to sort of learn about how you got into the industry and your career and that side of things. But what I really loved doing with our guests.

This is a quick fire round of questions to get to know you more passively. Okay. Are you ready for question number one? Yeah, go ahead. Would you rather have to speak in rhyme for the rest of your life or overdose?

Natalie: Definitely rhyme. I'd prefer to be understood. Yeah.

Sarah: What did you have for breakfast this morning? Now this quite ties into what you were saying this morning that it was a novelty to happen.

Natalie: Yeah, usually, usually a bit later on eating, I had, I just had polar jokes with berries and maple syrup is very nice.

Sarah: Very nice. I had maple syrup, but on pancakes.

So you're less healthy there. Do you enjoy magic?

Natalie: Not anymore. I don't know. That's not, it's not my cup of tea. Really.

Sarah: Fair enough. So I won't try and do some light mighty checks for you then film that you could watch Avery and Avery. Again,

Natalie: my officers are always 1984, but. It's kind of, not so much fun anymore because the world is sort of like that. So I would say Four weddings and a funeral.

Sarah: That's a classic, isn't it?

A good classic there. And then my last question for you, and I have to say, you've dealt with my questions expertly. Favorite thing to snack on.

Natalie: Everything really does I screen count as a snack?

Areej: Yeah, I definitely screamed. If you could replay, if you could either have only snacks or only normal meals for the rest of your life, what would you go with?

Natalie: Males, I think, yeah. Sensible.

Areej: Yeah. I have a feeling of more of a, more of a snack person, but yeah. Awesome. Well, I think in terms of just before we dive into the main topic that we're here to talk about today, you know, you being a part of the women in tech, SEO community, I'd love to know more about what empowers you to be the brilliant woman you are.

Natalie: Okay. Well, just, just by talking about the community itself, I am forever inspired and I'm empowered by, by seeing what others in our community are doing. Some, some amazing people in the women in tech, SEO community. Just, you know, just show it, show you what's possible. And there's also some very kind and supportive people in the group as well.

So yeah, I try to be an active member, in that community and yeah, that's, that's often been very helpful uh, on a personal level. I think, I think I'm fairly, I'm going to be quite personally, I'm fairly empowered by my sobriety. I don't drink anymore. And it has absolutely changed my life, like just immeasurably.

And I'd say that if that, if that wasn't there it could be a whole different story. It's sort of that. And it's that in the spiritual practices that come with that and, and all the things you learn about yourself, I'd say that's, that's what Well empowers me the most.

Areej: Yep. I absolutely love that.

And do you have any advice that you can share? Can you give it to women who are still starting to go from the industry and feel very overwhelmed?

Natalie: Well overwhelmed It's so easy to be overwhelmed because you see it, you see all these resources, all these training resources that show you all the things that there are to learn.

And it looks like it's like this insurmountable thing too, to grasp. But so I'd say it's, it's like any of these things, it's like, we use the cliche of eating an elephant, eat an elephant a bit of time. So yeah.

Yeah, I can see how it would be overwhelming, but it's once you get into it, it's, it's not as difficult as it looks. I really believe that about SEO. There's an awful lot of smoke and mirrors and making it, making it look like it's harder than it really is. So don't be put off.

Sarah: I have to agree as well.

And there's a lot of lingo that isn't there in jargon. That can be a bit off put in and like, don't get me wrong, obviously there's terms that you need to use. And there's the proper terminology, but I think sometimes that can be a bit scary. Do you know what I mean? Like it's like when you start anew.

Job and there's a loss of acronyms that the business uses and stuff. Isn't it it's like until you get used to the terminology and comfortable with what people are saying then yeah. Yeah.

Natalie: It's like a line of duty.

Sarah: I love how you've got a, yeah. You managed to get line of duty ethic ethics areas. And also I've never heard of the elephant analogy before.

Then, how do you eat an elephant a bit at a time?

Natalie: One of my first bosses said that's me. I'll never forget it.

Sarah: I mean, yeah. It sticks with you. Doesn't it. Imagine an elephant to be a bit to it. Anyway, I feel like we're getting on a tangent here. So we are talking today. So the main topic is everyone's favorite in the SEO industry, core web vitals.

Now, how would you explain what this is to someone who's just come across Core Web Vitals for the first time?

Natalie: Core web vitals is a set of metrics that Google has pulled together a definition of user experience which is quite helpful because the things that go behind these core web vitals is to be in a kind of sprawling list of recommendations and page speed insights.

So it's been helpful to kind of. Consolidate those into these three metrics, which are largest Contentful pain, which relates to loading the part of the patient takes the longest to load first input delay, which measures interactivity and cumulative layout shift, which measures, measures visual stability, and those three elements, other things that sort of go into what what makes or breaks our user experience essentially.

If it takes too long to load, it's a frustrating user experience. If you can't click on it. Certain elements you can't actually interact with with what you want to, that's extremely frustrating. And if things keep moving about one of the main causes of that is things like cookie policies or live chat overlays, or Thanksgiving.

We've heard about that. That's a very frustrating user experience as well. So all of those things have been instilled into these three hopefully fairly, too easy, easy to understand metrics.

Areej: It is. It's interesting how always we tend to everything you mentioned. So it's all about user experience, right?

So even if we think of ourselves as users and how frustrating it can be to go on a website and then have any form of slowness or bad experience or things popping up, it feels common sense. Doesn't it?

Natalie: Well yeah, you would think so. But um, just user experience is kind of nebulous. It means different things to different people.

I'm finding it. It means different things to UX specialists and developers and SEO. And then you've got the users themselves , it's sort of subjective. So Google is, you know, is trying to make this a little less subjective and make these things much more measurable and much more easy to control.

Yeah, because obviously Google knows good user experience. It's just a bit easier to distill it into those metrics.

Areej: Yeah. And how, how do you, how did you feel when you heard that the update is being pushed back? Do you think that's a good or a bad thing?

Natalie: Oh, definitely. Definitely. Good. I imagine most, most of them, bring this little sigh of relief when they see that, but then again, it would depend who you are and how prepared you were, because there may be people that just nailed it.

Their sites were all ready to go. You know, game on, but no, I mean, it depends where, what you read the stats space that the same 90, at least 90% of all the websites are failing the corporate files assessment at the moment. So that's, that's a lot of SEOs developers, UX specialists that are litigating a reprieve here.

On the flip side, there's a, you know, there's a school of thought that Update. Isn't really going to do much to the SERPs at all because everyone, almost everyone is failing the assessment. I don't, I don't quite subscribe to that because there are sites that are nailing it, you know, certainly in the.

Like in the insurance industry, that's always been a sort of a shining light of page speed and user experience. You know, the, the, the big players in the insurance industry have always focused on that and got it. Right. Amazon has got it. Right. eBay's got it. Right. Certainly commerce retailers have many e-commerce retailers haven't so it's it's anyone's  guess, bu, Yeah, I think it's definitely good that it's been pushed back and good that it's been confirmed to be more of a phased rollout rather than some kind of flick of a switch, like the likes of Panda and penguin.

I, I remember, you know, sites that, you know, well-known brands absolutely decimated as a result of, of those algorithm updates. And although Google's algorithm has become much more sophisticated, you know, there's, there's less, less of that drastic. Change, you know, for the majority of sites, unless they've done something seriously wrong with their LinkedIn practices or their content strategy or whatever.

I still think there's a risk of this affecting sites more than people may think.

Sarah: Yes. And just want to play a little bit of a devil's advocate on the like, Update being pushed back. Because I have had some people saying things like, obviously it's hard to get buy-in from web developers and the tech team at companies and stuff.

And I have had that, some people we use in the earlier day is a bit of an urgency. Do you know what I mean? And now that I like it, there. The update has been pushed back. Yes. It gives time to websites to get things sorted. And it sounds like that's what's needed because a lot of companies are failing then, but they might also be on the other side like.

It might be hard to get things implemented because the urgency side has gone. Do you know what I mean?

Natalie: Yeah, but it's, I mean, it's been pushed back to, you know, by, by month and, and even in my personal experience with one of the sites I'm working on even with that urgency added into the recommendation, there were still many too many complex in priorities to prioritize the thing, you know, I think That will be, that will be business owners and product owners comfortable with the risk of, of not sorting core files across all of their pages, because there's so many other development things to do.

So I think the urgency is still there. It's just not as, it's not, not as urgent as it was. There's still, it's still going to happen. It's still on the horizon.

Areej: How do you currently work alongside? You mentioned, you know, developers, engineers, UX designers how, how can we get that volume in and make sure that they can actually, you know, prioritize implementing some of these recommendations that we developed.

Natalie: What is another one of those things that is situation dependent? Some sites I'm working on as a consultant, I work directly with the developer in a small team. There's not that many other things in the development schedule and we can just do it. And in those cases, I work closely with the developer on pointing out where, you know, what's causing the largest Contentful pain.

What's the specific notes that are causing this? That issue or the CLS issue, for example and you can work quite closely with the developer and get it done in larger organizations. You know, you have more stakeholders, more people vying for development, time and space. There may be resource issues you don't know about as an SEO, if you're not privy to you know, how, how things are staffed, you know, there's just all kinds of things you have to deal with if you're a larger organization.

But I would say the best way to get buy-in is to keep. Keep making your case, figure out who, who the stakeholders are, you know, make, make acquaintance with the product managers, the UX people get close to the developers. Not always easy depending on the organization. But. You know, don't, don't, don't just swear in with your SEO recommendations, you know, and try and try and push it through.

Now, you absolutely need to demonstrate how it's going to help everybody, how it's going to help the organization...

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About the Podcast

WTSPodcast
The Women in Tech SEO Podcast (WTSPodcast) is THE podcast for all things SEO. Each week we invite brilliant women in the industry to join us and delve into specific topics so that we can learn from their stories, knowledge, and experience.

WTSPodcast is part of Women in Tech SEO - a support network aimed for women in the Technical SEO field, to discuss, share and learn from one another. The aim is to empower each other in a positive, inspiring, and beneficial way, and to help build our network and accelerate our careers.

Your hosts are Areej AbuAli (founder of Women in Tech SEO & SEO Consultant) and Sarah McDowell (Podcaster & SEO Manager at Captivate FM).

Website: https://www.womenintechseo.com/podcast/
Twitter: @techseowomenpod

Looking for The SEO SAS Podcast? You can find that show here: https://seo-sas.captivate.fm/listen

About your hosts

Sarah McDowell

Profile picture for Sarah McDowell
I've been in Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for around 10 years, currently working as the SEO Manager at Captivate (part of Global), the world's only growth-orientated podcast host. I am a self-confessed SEO nerd (I find the industry fascinated and love learning how search engines like Google work) and a bit of a podcast addict (with this being the fourth podcast I have hosted). I am also a speaker and trainer. I hope you enjoy this podcast!

Areej AbuAli

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Areej is an SEO Consultant with over 8 years experience who focuses on all things technical and on-site. She is the founder of the Women in Tech SEO community and has spoken in industry events such as MozCon, SMX and BrightonSEO.