Mobile Site Speed Benchmark Study – Nichola Stott

I spoke to Nichola Stott, Founder and CEO of Erudite, about Nichola’s talk at Search Elite. Nichola has spoken at many events and has spoken at Search London a few times as well.

1) How long did the Mobile Site Speed Benchmark take you and the team and what has been the impact? (eg more visits to the site, more calls, more interaction via social media)

Getting the data was pretty easy thanks to Patrick Meenan, Iliya Grigorik and John Mu and the work they have been doing with HTTPArchive, WebPagetest, getting Lighthouse data in there and the ability to get the data out with Big Query. The time consuming part was manually classifying 5,000 URLs into meaningful industry categories. We used a lookup against Majestic Topics to help, but there were still hundreds of URLs that required manual check and category assignation. The analysis part took a solid few days and the write-up and data visualisation slightly longer and of course that has to fit in around client work.
In terms of the impact of the piece, the true purpose won’t be realised until later this year. Perhaps some readers will guess what this is. That said publishing this stage of the work has led to a number of opportunities, speaking invites, a lot of additional visits to our site, social activity and increased brand recognition which is obviously welcome as we re-branded in November. These benefits are additional ‘nice-to-haves’ but watch out for later this year.

2) If data has not already been published online, would you recommend others to carry out surveys/studies to produce their own whitepaper/study on a specific area of search (eg voice search)

ABSOLUTELY. I think any SEO agency worth their salt has to conduct some level of R&D, test and analysis or similar studies; however I’d suggest the core motive should be knowledge which can be used to improve service offering, with peer awareness and marketing as secondary concerns.

3) How would you suggest a search enthusiast get into technical seo (This could be a grad, a student or someone who is looking for a career change).  Are there technical courses you recommend? Or is it more learning by doing? It can be difficult for those looking for a career change to be given the opportunity to start a new career path.

In eight years of recruiting SEOs I don’t think I have cracked this. I haven’t spotted any patterns in candidate background, qualifications or experience. In my opinion to get into search you have to really want it. If you really want it then you must be taking the time to self-educate. If somebody shows independence in terms of seeking knowledge and the ability to think critically as well as understanding the scientific method that is way more important than formal education.

4) Do you think CRO should fall under Search? Have you seen an increasing need for CRO help in 2017 from search professionals? (When social media came out, instead of it coming under SEO/Search, it seemed to be handled by PR)

Definitely not. CRO is a completely separate discipline with different skills, methods, tools and processes. Whilst the two (SEO and CRO) can play very nicely together and can sit well within a technical marketing agency – even a small one like ours, you need different specialists for each. Obviously there are super-smart individuals who can do everything and tend to do so as independent consultants but within an agency model, less so.
I’d also say to watch out for performance optimisation emerging again as a separate discipline distinct from SEO and CRO and again playing nicely between the two.
Thank you Nichola for your time.  Look forward to seeing you at Search Elite.

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