From June 2021, Google wants to roll out the Page Experience as a new ranking factor. The problem? Less than three percent of the URLs examined in a study do not achieve a “good” rating in the Core Web Vitals.

Many website operators fear about their rankings: From June 2021, Google wants the Roll out page experience as a new ranking factor – The Core Web Vitals contained therein as central metrics for evaluating website performance have been causing a stir in the online world for months. That is why Searchmetrics is now presenting a comprehensive study on the Core Web Vitals. Around two million top ranking URLs in the Google search results were examined for their performance values. The conclusion is clear: Less than three percent of all examined URLs do not achieve a “good” rating in the Core Web Vitals based on Google’s recommendations.

CMS platforms, website builders, huge code libraries: over the years, the web has become more beautiful and diverse, but also slower and more bored. Google’s answer to this is the Core Web Vitals: Selected core metrics to measure the user experience of websites. This should make it easier for website operators and companies to understand and optimize the performance and user-friendliness of their pages.

What the Core Web Vitals Study looked at

Although Google accompanies the update announcement with good documentation about reference values, FAQs and optimization tips, many website operators have question marks that can be answered with the Core Web Vitals study:

  • How do I interpret the results of my Core Web Vitals?
  • How well are my online competitors doing in the Core Web Vitals?
  • What do I have to do to optimize my website for this update?

The study examined two million URLs that ranked in the top 20 Google results for Germany, the USA and the UK. Here I present you the German study results for the URLs on; the English results are very similar to the German – even with slightly better values ​​for the top URLs in the German Google results.

The analysis is based primarily on the desktop benchmarks. The mobile values ​​were also determined here, but I think the desktop benchmarks are more meaningful. The reason for this is that Google simulates the mobile performance of a website using a significantly reduced data connection. This often does not correspond to reality; not even in Germany, which is not necessarily known for its high-speed radio networks.

It was examined which values ​​in the Core Web Vitals reach the top 5 of the Google search results – in comparison, the average values ​​for the first 20 search results were determined. In addition to the Benchmarks For the three core web vitals, we also determined the values ​​for 12 additional performance metrics and calculated the ranking correlation for all results. This makes this analysis one of the most comprehensive studies on the Core Web Vitals.

What values ​​do the German top rankings achieve for the Core Web Vitals?

Which metrics are part of the Core Web Vitals and what was examined:

  • With the “Largest Contentful Paint” (LCP) the Loading time of the largest content element visible in the viewport. This simple metric is intended to show how quickly the main content of a page loads; a good value here is a maximum of 2.5 seconds.
  • The “Cumulative Layout Shift” (CLS) measures how much the content of the page shifts when loading – a common problem with dynamic or reloaded elements such as ads without fixed size specifications. The CLS should not be more than 0.1.
  • The “First Input Delay” (FID) measures when users can interact with the page for the first time. However, this study looks at an alternative Core Web Vitals metric that is considered a good proxy for FID according to Google – Total Blocking Time (TBT). The background to this is that the original FID value is often 0, for example because users do not want to interact with the page at all and jump back to the SERPs. In contrast, the total blocking time says how long loading processes keep the user from interacting with the page. Anything over 300 milliseconds is considered a bad value for the TBT, analogous to the First Input Delay.

So how well or badly is the German web prepared for the Core Web Vitals?

Overall, only three percent of all examined URLs in the top 20 search results achieve a good score in all three core web vitals; More than 97 percent of the URLs score in at least one of the Core Web Vitals as bad or bad:

© Searchmetrics
© Searchmetrics

What was noticed during the analysis:

  • Whoever loads faster ranks better: URLs that rank in the top 5 of Google search results achieve slightly better values ​​for Largest Contentful Paint and Total Blocking Time than URLs that Google ranks 6 to 20. Often only the URLs in the first three Google positions achieve good values ​​in the Core Web Vitals; the other URLs rankings only get bad or bad scores.
  • Code Bloat als Problem: The top 20 websites in the Google rankings could save 0.6 seconds of loading time by removing unused JavaScript. This is a problem with CMS systems like WordPress and Joomla or website builders like Wix and Squarespace, which often load more code and scripts than are necessary for a particular page.
  • Pages often have layout shifts: Many websites have a problematic high shift in layout because page elements such as ads or newsletter boxes are loaded dynamically and without fixed sizes.

For the study, not only were the three core KPIs of the Core Web Vitals promoted by Google and their ranking correlations analyzed, but the scores for twelve other performance factors were evaluated – including Speed ​​Index, First Contentful Paint, Optimized Images and much more more. There are also best-case and worst-cast examples for each performance factor, as well as tips for optimization.

Will 2021 be “Vitalgeddon”?

Rarely in recent years has there been such a long-lasting global outcry in the online world after news from Google as after the announcement that the Core Web Vitals would be introduced as a ranking factor. This is reminiscent of the mobile-friendly update from 2015 and 2016, when the mobile-friendliness of websites became a ranking factor – and the update with the nickname “Mobilegeddon” secured a top position in the high-profile reception of Google announcements.

So now come the Core Web Vitals, which will be entered into the Google algorithm as a ranking factor for evaluating the user experience from June 2021 in a slow rollout and should develop their full potential from August 2021. How strongly the new ranking factor will work cannot yet be conclusively assessed and should be difficult due to the slow rollout over several months. Google itself takes some steam out of the boiler: “User-friendliness remains just one of many factors that our systems take into account“, So the statement in Google Search Central Blog. „Therefore, you shouldn’t expect any drastic changes for your websites.

Even if the impact of the Core Web Vitals should not lead to turbulent distortions in the Google results, all website operators are encouraged to observe the Core Web Vitals with immediate effect. These specific KPIs can be given to website development as a task and reported to management or customers as a report. In addition, the technical user experience is an important foundation for good user signals – and thus long-term success in search.

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