Lighthouse scores do not directly impact SEO

3 min read

How do you gauge the effectiveness of your webpage in 2023? Have you contemplated the potential impact your website could generate if optimized to its peak performance metrics?
Thankfully, a solution exists to enhance our webpage performance – a tool known as Lighthouse.

Google Lighthouse is a free tool designed to help improve website performance. It’s open-source software so that anyone can use it on any webpage.

The tool audits the accessibility and SEO of your webpage, with a particular focus on core web vitals. It also has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO, and more.

Google Lighthouse can be used to calculate your Core Web Vitals. The tool audits your website based on the average device and connection used by a user. However, you can tell the tool which device and relationship you want it to emulate for your tests. The results of these tests will help you determine which stages of page load need to be optimized in order to provide a good user experience.

However, the pertinent question 2023 is: Do Lighthouse scores genuinely influence SEO rankings?
Considering the tool’s significance, they do not directly sway your SEO rankings, which might lead to confusion. It’s perplexing how something so seemingly important doesn’t correlate with a website’s SEO ranking outcomes.
To dispel this confusion, Google’s John Mueller took the initiative to address such queries within the r/SEO forum on Reddit.
In this context, a query emerged concerning the potential repercussions of low-performance scores in Lighthouse on organic search rankings. The individual also shared a noteworthy experience wherein they elevated their Lighthouse score from 6 to 21, showcasing the tool’s capacity for improvement.

To this, John Mueller explained,


“Going from 6 to 21 will probably be noticeable to users, so you have that effect independently of SEO.

Google doesn’t use the X/100 lighthouse score for search, we use the core web vitals separately (lcp, cls, fid). I think you can get those from Lighthouse too, but there are lots of other tools that also show them.

Google uses the values as users see them, which requires a certain amount of traffic first. If this is a smaller site (I don’t know), you might not have enough traffic anyway, so that wouldn’t be a factor (Search Console shows if it has data).”

Source – Search engine journal


Further, he explained,

Core web vitals/page experience doesn’t replace relevance, but it’s also more than just a tie-breaker. For competitive queries, you might see some effects. If someone’s looking for your business name, it’s less important. Check the queries you rank for and guestimate based on that.

Sometimes smaller things can make a big difference, like caching images or serving them (+videos, ads, etc) with predefined dimensions. Don’t give up just because someone says it’s hard :). Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it’s a matter of finding the easy things.

Our 2 cents

Lighthouse scores do not directly impact SEO

As of 2023, the Lighthouse score operates on lab data, focusing on the technical aspects of a website’s performance. Google places greater emphasis on how a site performs for real visitors. Google’s evaluation relies on field data collected from actual users, diverging from Lighthouse scores that stem from simulated lab conditions.
However, if a website doesn’t attract substantial traffic, Google lacks the requisite field data to compute its Core Web Vitals scores. Consequently, in such scenarios, the reliability of the Lighthouse score diminishes further.
John Mueller underscores to the original poster that even though the Core Web Vitals/Page Experience update offers a ranking enhancement, this boost in ranking is consistent with the importance of relevance. A website with lower rankings can still achieve visibility if its content resonates with users’ search intent.
While Lighthouse certainly holds pivotal value, especially for those embarking on an SEO journey, relying solely on Lighthouse scores would be unwise. While these scores have significance, they cannot replace the pivotal element of relevance. If your content is pertinent and valuable, people will discover your website organically.
Thus, the crux remains: In a landscape where relevance reigns supreme, your relevancy will be the driving force that propels you forward, regardless of external metrics.