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Flimsy Metrics: The State of the Web & Core Web Vitals [Part 2]

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The author's views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

In the first post[1] in this series, I talked about how relatively few URLs on the web are currently clearing the double-hurdle required for a maximum CWV (Core Web Vitals) ranking boost:

  • Passing the threshold for all three CWV metrics

  • Actually having CrUX data available so Google knows you’ve passed said thresholds

For Google’s original rollout timeline in May, we would have had 9% of URLs clearing this bar. By August 2021, this had hit 14%.

This alone may have been enough for Google to delay, downplay, and dilute their own update. But there’s another critical issue that I believe may have undermined Google’s ability to introduce Page Experience as a major ranking factor: flimsy metrics.

Flimsy metrics

It’s a challenging brief to capture the frustrations of millions of disparate users’ experiences with a handful of simple metrics. Perhaps an impossible one. In any case, Google’s choices are certainly not without their quirks. My principle charge is that many frustrating website behaviors are not only left unnoticed by the three new metrics, but actively incentivized.

To be clear, I’m sure experience as measured by CWV is broadly correlated with good page experience. But the more room for maneuver there is, and the fuzzier the data is, the less weight Google can apply to page experience as a ranking factor. If I can be accused of holding Google up to an unrealistic standard here, then I’d view that as a bed of their own making.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This perhaps feels the safest of the three new metrics, being essentially a proxy for page loading speed. Specifically, though, it measures the time

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