The Enigma of CWV: Unraveling Google’s Ranking Factors

3 min read

The Google Search Off the Record podcast delved into Core Web Vitals (CWV), highlighting its status as a ranking factor. However, it underscored that enhancing CWV might not significantly strengthen search visibility. The podcast elucidated the reconciliation of CWV’s role as a ranking factor with its limited impact on rankings improvement.

Rick Viscomi, an engineer and Web Performance Lead at Google, and Lizzi Sassman, a Senior Technical Writer at Google, emphasized the significance of the actual user experience over Core Web Vitals (CWV) scores. They advised against overemphasizing poor CWV scores and stressed the importance of how users perceive a website’s performance in the real world. Sassman shared her experience of testing CWV scores for Google’s Page Experience documentation, revealing that even Google’s documentation scored relatively low. Viscomi reiterated that the genuine performance experienced by users browsing the website holds more weight than numerical scores. He clarified that while developers often fret over a single, potentially alarming score, the key focus should be on ensuring a positive experience for real users. The search community has broadly recognized the message of not fixating on CWV scores, understanding their value primarily for benchmarking performance and optimizing the user experience for tangible benefits like sales, ad clicks, and conversions.


Understanding CWV’s Impact on Search Rankings


John Mueller clarifies the role of Core Web Vitals (CWV) in search rankings, indicating that while they are integrated into Google’s ranking systems, incremental improvements in CWV scores may not result in noticeable changes in search results. Mueller’s team conversed with the search team, affirming CWV’s inclusion in Google’s documentation due to its utilization in ranking and search systems:

“We do say we use this in our ranking systems or Search systems.”

However, Mueller emphasizes that achieving perfect CWV scores alone won’t necessarily translate into improved search rankings. He elucidates that while CWV serves as a component within Google’s broader ranking engine, the specifics of its implementation are not disclosed to SEOs and publishers:

“I think a big issue is that site owners sometimes over-fixate on the metrics themselves… And probably many of those incremental changes are not visible in Search.

Furthermore, Mueller underscores that Google refrains from divulging detailed thresholds or criteria regarding CWV, similar to other ranking factors like content length, as these specifics are deemed secondary. The key takeaway is that while enhancing CWV is beneficial, achieving perfect scores may not directly correlate with higher search rankings.


Navigating Core Web Vitals: Balancing Speed and Ranking Factors


Rick Viscomi and Lizzi Harvey illuminate the multifaceted significance of web performance and its relation to ranking factors, offering insights into the broader landscape and the narrower realm of search rankings.

Viscomi underscores the universal importance of performance optimization, likening it to a rising tide that benefits all websites:

“It’s perfect for everybody, and the rising tide lifts all boats. Check your website. Make it faster. Eat your vegetables.”

Meanwhile, Harvey advocates for a strategic allocation of time, urging a focus on content quality as a pivotal factor for ranking improvement:

“Yeah, focusing on that and then still having a terrible article, like the words on the page are not good or the design is not good, and you made it really fast. Okay. Is that really going to improve your users or for Search?”

Their dialogue emphasizes the need for a balanced approach, recognizing the importance of speed optimization while prioritizing other critical elements like content quality for meaningful enhancements in user experience and search performance.


Dual Perspectives on Core Web Vitals


In the newest episode of Search Off the Record, the discussion unexpectedly divided into two distinct viewpoints regarding Core Web Vitals (CWV) and content quality, shedding light on their roles as broad and specific factors. While not initially planned, this spontaneous dialogue provides valuable insights into reconciling CWV’s status as a ranking factor with its limited impact on search results.

The podcast’s natural progression underscores the importance of conceptualizing Core Web Vitals as a broader, overarching concern, harmonizing with its role as a ranking factor that may not independently influence search outcomes. This dual perspective clarifies how factors like CWV contribute to the larger ecosystem of website optimization and user experience.

For those still grappling with these complexities, our monthly SEO packages could provide expert assistance in navigating these nuances and optimizing your website effectively.

Shilpi Mathur
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