It’s the most common question being spread across the SEO landscape since Google launched Core Web Vitals.
“Is the update to Google’s page experience metrics affecting the search ranking of a website?”
The answer is nuanced. And there are ways to know if the update to the page experience is affecting a site’s search ranking.
In a recent meeting, Google’s very own SEO specialist John Mueller faced this question, and opened up about the signs to look out for to understand whether the scores of Core Web Vitals are impacting a site’s ranking… and also when it’s not.
During the meeting, someone shared a story about how their website saw a drop of 20% in their organic search traffic since Google rolled out the update, and that they saw the impact immediately.
They then went on to ask whether fixing weaknesses in Core Web Vitals will help to regain its level of traffic.
“Is it safe to suggest that the sit will regain traffic after we fix the issues with Core Web Vitals?” they asked. “And also, how long will it take, do we need to wait for another huge update?”
In response, John provided a clear explanation. “I don’t think that would be related. The reason I don’t think that would be related is because we started rolling this update out I think in July and it was finished at the end of August. But the rollout was on a per page basis essentially.
“That means if we saw that your website was slow for Core Web Vitals you would see a gradual change over time… from July until August. If you see an exact drop on that date, it seems like it’s probably something else. So I don’t think it would be from the core web vitals.”
The questioner then asked whether this was the same for sites that had experienced increases in traffic, to which John affirmed. He then went on to say that “the updates takes place automatically.
“So it’s something in Search Console you will see the data is always delayed, I think ,28 days but it’s gradually updated. It’s not that it has to wait for a bigger update.”
Afterwards, John went on to describe how the updates to Google’s Page Experience are felt. This is extremely helpful for when the time comes to diagnose big and sudden changes in search engine rankings, as we now know that the effect on ranking – whether its negative or positive – are felt gradually.
Frequently, an SEO specialist or publisher may notice that something has changed in traffic numbers. And some times, this is simply just randomness, just a coincidence.
It wouldn’t be too helpful to simply assume that changes in Google’s algoritm and the unrolling of Core Web Vitals are to blame alone.
Yet moving forward, any future updates to a website’s Core Web Vitals do not need to wait for a big Google update for them to take effect.