The unfamiliar can often make us feel uneasy… even sceptical. We’re comfortable with the long established facts and stories that we tell ourselves.
This notion extends into technology and the nuts and bolts of what holds the internet in place without it collapsing.
Such scepticism has trickled into Google’s newly designated Core Web Vitals, which are the star-studded web metrics that define a visitor’s digital experience on a page. And as a reward for strong Core Web Metrics, Google will elevate that page on its search engine.
It’s not surprising that there are some who are expressing some scepticism towards the powers and capabilities of Core Web Vitals and their influence in a page’s ranking on a search engine.
As a typical comment among the sceptical crowd, one Reddit writer wrote: “Anyone else not buying Core Web Vitals? I just find it hard to believe that this actually becomes a greater part of the ranking algo. Has anyone seen dramatic gains or decreases based on it so far?”
The truth is that, actually… Core Web Vitals could be acting more than simply a tie breaker when it comes to search engine rankings.
And we know that because Google’s very own John Mueller, the tech giant’s senior webmaster trends analyst. Recently, John affirmed that the ranking factor of Core Web Vitals does, in fact, play a greater role than simply enforcing a tie breaker.
Back in the 2000s, Google was using ranking factors anchored to keywords in order to understand what each webpage was about. The title, keywords in headings, the number of links, and the anchor text all determined the ranking of each webpage on search engine results pages.
Websites would accumulate thousands of links and tweak them for SEO best practice – all in order to rank highly. These were the days before natural language processing, before artificial intelligence tech, and before advanced machine learning.
Today, these three technological advancements put a much stronger emphasis on the relevant signals. And this has combined with Google’s emphasis that Core Web Vitals would play a key role but not the ultimate goal to achieve high search engine rankings.
Through John himself, he admitted that when it comes to what decides the ranking of a page, “relevance is still by far much more important. So just because your website is faster with regards to Core Web Vitals than some competitors doesn’t necessarily mean that… you will jump to position number one in the search results.”
And to lower the expectations even more, Google has published an FAQ on Core Web Vitals in which they state that: “Page experience is just one of many signals that are used to rank pages. Keep in mind that intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page with a subpar page experience may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
Google’s John went on to say that Core Web Vitals hold value that reaches beyond the ranking of a page, with speed-related experiences affecting how much a website, and in turn the brand, actually earns.
He spoke of the self-defeating essence of promoting a site in terms of search engine results pages if its scores for Core Web Vitals are poor.
“The other thing to keep in mind with Core Web Vitals,” added John, “is that it’s more than a random ranking factor, it’s also something that affects your site’s usability after it ranks (when people actually visit).
“If you get more traffic (from other SEO efforts) and your conversion rate is low, that traffic is not going to be as useful as when you have a higher conversion rate (assuming UX and speed affects your conversion rate, which it usually does).
“Core Web Vitals is a great way of recognizing and quantifying common user annoyances.”