R&D Roundup – April 2021

7 min read by Simon Thompson 23 Apr 2021

Another month has passed, which means it’s time for another R&D Roundup; a post in which we share things we’ve been working on or interested us, with the aim of inspiring ideas and conversations.

What we’ve been up to …


A new approach to our pagespeed audits
With the renewed focus on Core Web Vitals (CWV), we’re seeing an increase in the amount of pagespeed audits we are running. To help us quickly assess a site’s standing, we’ve been building Google Sheet templates which allow us to import a Screaming Frog crawl containing Pagespeed Insights data, which provides a dashboard of aggregated stats.

A preview from our Google Sheets File highlight key CWV metrics from First Contentful Paint (FCP) through to ‎Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

One feature which we are particularly proud of automatically detects the WordPress template being used for each page – allowing us to quickly see which templates or page types may have issues and need our focus.

Our next step is to introduce the CWV thresholds to quickly group pages, find areas of improvement and speed up audits.

Headless WordPress
As a team we’re exploring our options for building headless sites backed by WordPress, with the aim of building faster sites whilst maintaining the reliability and flexibility of WordPress.

This has also been spurred on by our partners at WP Engine announcing Atlas – their solution for deploying headless WordPress which they announced in their recent DE{CODE} conference which our development team and Director, James Bavington attended.

In addition to this, the team have been experimenting with frameworks including Next.js and Nuxt.js – as well as building prototypes using React and Vue to test how we can create a slick development process. We’ve got some more work to do, but we’re excited about the possibilities.

Marketing & Analytics

Linear Projection in Data Studio
Something we’ve been exploring is how we can forecast performance across channels. Josh has been hard at work, and has built a method which allows us to create linear projections of analytics data, purely in Data Studio.

This adds a new dimension to our reporting and gives additional data to help us formulate strategies, so we’ll be introducing this across the business over the coming months through a variety of tools and dashboards.

Review Invitations
James and Levi recently shared the results of some work they did with our friends and client Custom Heat in Rugby, which dramatically increased the velocity and quantity of reviews the business received from verified customers post-appointment on their Google My Business listing.

Having wanted to visualise the trajectory from the beginning of the initiative, James used a free trial with Outscraper to utilise their Review Extractor Tool to scrape all of the data associated with each review that had been left since 2014.

Realtime Analytics Alerts
Another exciting project being led by our Lead Developer – Duncan Brown – is a piece of software to help be alerted to changes in analytics metrics in realtime, so we can react quickly to potential issues and spikes in activity for our clients. It uses a combination of the GA Realtime API, a bespoke dashboard, and push notifications to grab the team’s attention quickly when specified metrics cross a threshold.

We’re looking forward to these dashboards adorning our desks soon!

Video & Photography

Love Thy Burger
Our video team – Sam and Mike – recently set out to take things up a level through an R&D project in collaboration with fast-food chain Love Thy Burger, which saw them heading out to capture a range of assets with the aim of trying out new cinematography techniques and equipment.

Trying to summarise the work here truly wouldn’t do it justice, but fortunately they’ve written an entire post on the project to tuck into as well as the resulting video below.


Presentation Skills Masterclass with Mark Robb

The team recently welcomed back Positive Reframe’s Mark Robb, to provide some additional training around presentation skills, to help the team present their expertise both internally and externally.

James shares his insight on Website Migrations in March’s Tea-Time SEO
James recently appeared on the Authoritas Tea-Time SEO webinar, discussing all things site migrations and SEO.

You can view the full 20-minute webinar and catch James’ top migration tips below.

Migrations were also the topic of the month, as this was hot on the heels of our recent win at the UK Dev Awards for our work supporting Reuters News Agency with their huge consolidation and migration project back in the summer of 2020.

Top Picks

And now, we’ll bring things to a close with a few things the team found interesting or useful.

Tom Critchlow’s SEO MBA – Read More
A number of us are big fans of Tom’s unique newsletter which focuses on the business and leadership skills which SEOs need to succeed.

So that’s it for our April 2021 roundup, stay tuned for more updates and top picks each month. Alternatively sign up to our regular newsletter here! 

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