Most websites that rank in Google’s top 20 search results do not currently pass the minimum requirements for a good page experience set out in the search engine’s new Core Web Vitals update, which officially rolls out from mid-June.
According to the analysis by Searchmetrics, 96% of sites tested in US desktop searches and more than 90% of those in mobile searches fail to meet Google’s three Core Web Vitals thresholds for good website performance and usability and risk their rankings being negatively impacted from June.
Currently only the top 2 or 3 ranking websites in search results achieve the required “good” score in most of the Core Web Vitals metrics.
The study which analysed 2 million web pages appearing in the top 20 Google results in the US, UK and Germany, reveals that there is already a positive relationship between pages that rank higher and those that perform well on Core Web Vitals metrics – suggesting Google already rewards sites that offer better usability. Once the update officially rolls out, the Core Web Vitals are likely to have even more influence on page rankings according to Searchmetrics.
Google is introducing Core Web Vitals to assess real-world web user experience in three areas: how quickly the content on a page loads, its responsiveness (the time taken to respond to a visitor’s first interaction, such as clicking on a button or a link) and its visual stability (does the layout or content jump around).
These signals will be included in Google’s search algorithm with the search engine aiming to deliver a ranking boost to web pages that are delivering a good experience.
“The Google Core Web Vitals update is in many ways a response to websites not really living up to user expectations. It’s a clear message to website owners that not putting users first may have a negative effect on rankings,” explains Marcus Tober, Founder and Chief Evangelist at Searchmetrics. “Our initial findings suggest that there’s a lot of work to do for most websites to get their usability up to par. And, of course, ecommerce and other enterprises need to be aware that a good user experience will not just influence their Google rankings but have a positive business impact, it can help to drive conversions and encourage visitors to stay onsite longer, engage and keep returning.”
According to Searchmetrics among the reasons behind the poor user experience highlighted by the study is the rise of “Code Bloat” or unnecessary code on webpages built using templates included within website builders such as WordPress and Wix, as well additional code in web plugins, all of which slows pages down and creates optimization challenges. Another issue is dynamic content such as ads and newsletter opt-in boxes which can cause the layout of pages to shift if they are not implemented properly.
Searchmetrics’ full whitepaper, ‘Core Web Vitals Study – April 2021‘ includes detailed explanations, data, insights and advice ahead of the Core Web Vitals update.