Having recently completed the desktop version of its Page Experience update, Google has now shed further information on how page experience ranking factors actually work.
Specifically, Google search guru John Mueller used a recent Google Office Hours video to discuss the extent to which core web vitals are an important SEO ranking factor.
His comments came in response to a question from a concerned online business owner, as follows:
“My website had a drop in visitors due to poor core web vitals,”
“Now I’m back on track but came to know that the page experience update is now rolling out also for desktop,”
“What is the page experience ranking to desktop and how important is it compared to the other ranking factors?”
No Major Changes, Minimal Impact for Most
Previously, Google had stated that the vast majority of websites and online business owners would see little to no difference in their performance, as a result of the Page Experience update. Thus, indicating that the alterations would not bring any major new ranking factors into the mix.
“So from that point of view with the desktop ranking change, like with the mobile one, I wouldn’t expect a drastic jump in the search results from one day to the next as we roll this out,” Mueller once again advised.
“At most, if things are really bad for your website you would see a kind of a gradual drop there.”
He subsequently went on to explain how the site owner’s attribution of their drop in traffic to poor Core Web Vitals was most likely misguided.
“I might kind of caution against is kind of the first sentence that you had there, that your website dropped due to poor Core Web Vitals,” he said.
“I suspect, for the most part, websites would not see a big visible change when it comes to Core Web Vitals,”
“Even if your website goes from being kind of reasonable to being in that poor bucket in the Core Web Vitals from one day to the next, I would not expect to see that as kind of a giant change in the search results,”
“Maybe changing a few positions, that seems kind of the right change there,”
“But I would not see it as a page going from …I don’t know… ranking number two to ranking number fifty like that just because of Core Web Vitals,”
“If you are seeing a drastic change like that, I would not focus on purely Core Web Vitals.”
This would therefore suggest that while dramatic decreases in performance are unlikely to be the result of Core Web Vitals, falling several places in the rankings is certainly not off the cards. What Mueller refers to casually as “a few positions” could indeed prove catastrophic for those operating in a particularly competitive niche.
Dealing with Dramatic Drops in Traffic
For those who have experienced more dramatic drops in performance, Mr Mueller issued the following advice:
“I would try to take a step back and look at the overall picture and see what else could there be involved,”
“And try to figure out what you can do to improve things overall rather than just purely focusing on Core Web Vitals,”
“Because Core Web Vitals is something that does take a lot of work to get right,”
“And it is sometimes hard to get all of these things lined up,”
But it’s also, like I mentioned, something which is more of a subtle ranking factor and not like a super strong one,”
“So it’s something where if you’re seeing strong changes I would recommend not spending too much time on the Core Web Vitals side and rather trying to figure out what is the bigger change or where is that coming from for your site.”
Roughly summarised – while Core Web Vitals are unlikely to trigger a huge shift in rankings, they could be the cause of losing ground to competitors by a few positions.