Core Web Vitals FAQ
There’s been a lot of social commentary lately about Core Web Vitals (CWV). SEOs and web developers have been debating if CWV has had any meaningful impact on search results, and more importantly if they need to concern themselves with it.
Since it was first announced, I’ve followed CWV closely and have written about it on Coywolf. I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions on the current state of CWV in the form of an FAQ. I hope you find it helpful.
Why should I care about Core Web Vitals?
The short answer to why you should care about CWV is because Google cares about it. They continue to publicize CWV and throw significant resources towards it, which is why I wouldn’t ignore it.
Is the Core Web Vitals ranking factor worth the trouble?
Several sources have shared anecdotal evidence that CWV may have little to no impact on ranking. Here is my take on it (so far):
- Well-known sites and brands will continue to rank well regardless of their CWV performance. That’s because people are willing to engage with those sites irrespective of how poor their performance might be. The sum of the other signals will continue to outweigh the CWV signal for the time being.
- Smaller sites likely receive some benefit from good CWV scores, which could be enough to push them several positions higher and perhaps even compete with more significant sites on occasion.
- As Google refines CWV, I think they will likely increase the signal’s influence on rankings over time.
Can I improve Core Web Vitals using a plugin?
Improving CWV with a plugin is possible, but it may not be the panacea you want. If you don’t have the resources to properly fix your site, it’s probably worth testing a plugin like Perfmatters. However, before you do that, I recommend using a good caching plugin like WP Rocket, if you aren’t already.
What’s the easiest way to make meaningful performance changes to my site without changing anything on my site?
Cloudflare is the easiest way to improve site performance without making changes to a site. Their Free plan has almost everything a small site needs, and their Pro plan unlocks even more performance-based features. Also, for $5/mo, all plans, including the Free plan, can use their Automatic Platform Optimization (APO) for WordPress. APO is like turning your dynamic WordPress site into a high-availability static site worldwide.
What’s the best way to analyze and measure pages for Core Web Vitals?
The easiest way is to use a service like GTmetrix or PageSpeed Insights. Another way is to run Lighthouse locally on your computer using Chrome Dev Tools. You can also put a script on your site to measure results from real visitors and have it send the results to Google Analytics. All of those methods will provide insights into how you can improve page performance.
Which Core Web Vitals measurements matter most?
The measurements in analysis tools don’t matter. The only CWV measurements that matter are the results in Google Search Console (GSC). GSC, which uses data from the CrUX Report, is the only source of truth for how Google judges the performance of your pages.
If GSC reports your pages as good but an analysis tool reports need improvement or poor, assume your pages are good. If an analysis tool reports good but GSC reports need improvement or poor, assume your pages need improvement or are poor.