Why You Shouldn’t Waste Too Much Time on Core Web Vitals

I’m subscribed to several SEO facebook groups (the absolute best by a longshot being SEO Signals Lab).

I’ve spent much of the day reading and responding to posts about Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) and how some SEOs are frantically scurrying around trying to get their sites to a Good rating – and some even flexing their dev skills by getting it up to the 95%-100% range.

Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with the ethos of CWV – providing a decent user experience for the Internet community – I feel that some people have become completely obsessed with it to the degree that they’re spending way more time on it than they need to.

This seems to come in response to an announcement from Google last year that CWV would become a ranking signal in May 2021.

Surely if it’s a ranking signal, you should take it seriously!

Yes, it is going to be a ranking signal. But is it going to be a more important ranking signal than content or links?

No.

In fact, I believe that this will be such a small ranking signal that it really will not make a lot of difference to very many website’s SERPS rankings.

So there’s probably going to be a lot of disappointed website owners that will not see the “boost” they are expecting to get from all the time and money they have spent on optimising their sites for CWV -time and money that would probably have been better spent on content, links or ads.

Or, google will combine the CWV rollout with a core update so nobody will know if CWV caused a change in their rankings or the core update.

It’s a conspiracy!!

Well, not quite, but….

What I think everyone should be asking themselves is why Google – the masters of vagueness, obfuscation, secretiveness and misinformation when it comes to how their search algorithm works – should suddenly not only tell you exactly what their latest ranking signal is and when it will come into effect but also give you the tools to optimise for it.

Could there be an ulterior motive?

Perhaps Google are fed up of wasting money (in terms of computing power and bandwidth) crawling slow websites. Perhaps the board room saw the crawler bill of $8bn (Source: some guy on Facebook) and thought how can we reduce this? Maybe a conversation ensued:

Board member 1: How can we reduce this cost?
Board member 2: Man, if only we could get everyone to make sure their websites were fast.
Board member 1: That’s impossible, we can’t control what people do.
Board member 3: *sinister laugh* Ah but we can. We have a lot of sway with the SEO community. They do anything we say. We put a guideline out and they all pay attention. Johnny Mu makes a passing comment, and it’s front page news on Search Engine Journal within minutes.
Board member 2: Surely that’s not the case.
Board member 3: *sinister laugh*: Ah my young Padwan. You are naive. Remember when we couldn’t get the search algorithm to distinguish between real and paid links no matter how hard we tried? What did we do?
Board member 2: Errr…
Board member 3: We made up a guideline for webmasters that said they should identify their paid links for us by adding ‘nofollow’ and ‘sponsored’ to them. And we did the same with user-generated content to identify spammy links. We got the fools to do our job for us. *sinister laugh*
Board member 1: What do you suggest, master?
Board member 3: We will invent a speed test. We will say it is to improver “user experience”. We will even give them the tools to evaluate their website and make it really hard to get a high score so that websites become hyper-quick.
Board member 2: Do you really expect people to do this?
Board member 3: Yes….because we will add an incentive. We will tell them it will become part of the search algorithm *sinister laugh*
Board member 2: Ah but really it will be to make our crawling easier?
Board member 3: Yes *sinister laugh*
Board member 1: But doesn’t that mean we will have to make it part of the search algo?
Board member 3: Yes, but we’ve been thinking about adding signals like this anyway. And it will only be a teeny-weeny factor in ranking. It will mostly be used to drop the small minority of shockingly unbearably slow sites down the SERPs. Anything that is half decent won’t be affected at all.
Board members 1, 2 and 3: *sinister laughs*…..to fade…..

Some SEOs have made a killing off this announcement

To be frank, I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing about CWV, which is the reason I wrote this article – so that I can just point people to this post to read my views instead of explaining them for the umpteenth time. But the thing that annoys me most about CWM is the scaremongering.

This year, I’ve received emails and seen ads from a multitude of different SEOs, website designers and developers, which are literally scaremongering about the CWV update. They’re telling people that if they don’t get their websites up to the top 10% (or even up to 100% in some cases) in the CWV tool, their website will tank in May.

And people believe it and hand over money to get it sorted. I mean, why wouldn’t they. They’ve got Google to back them up. And they’ve got a tight deadline, creating urgency.

And when the update hits, it will have absolutely no affect on them and these SEOs will say that they prevented the site from going down. I sort of want to say that these website owners are being hoodwinked but I also think that the SEOs genuinely believe it is an issue that needs resolving.

So, what’s your advice?

I’m not going to give advice on this. I may be 100% wrong and come the Spring my websites could have tanked because I didn’t heed Google’s CWV warning. I doubt it, but it’s a possibility.

What I will do is give you a list of all the things I have done to my sites relating to CWV.

  1. I’ve checked my websites in Google’s CWV tool – my pages are primarily orange.

If they were red, that would have alerted me that there was perhaps an issue I wasn’t aware of and I would have investigated further.

But I’m totally 100% okay with orange (I don’t remember the actual number and don’t much care).

I won’t be ignoring CWV completely but I will be giving it the attention it deserves.