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Google says Core Web Vitals matter, but not for the reason you think

May 9, 2024 0 comments

Core Web Vitals (CWV) have been a hot topic in SEO for a while now. Website owners scramble to improve their scores, believing it’s the key to unlocking higher search engine rankings.

But a recent Google podcast, “Search Off the Record,” throws a curveball, revealing a more nuanced relationship between CWV and search success.

Obsessed with scores? Google puts focus on the real user experience

The podcast features Google’s Rick Viscomi and Lizzi Sassman, who downplay the fixation on achieving flawless CWV scores. They champion a more user-centric approach, emphasizing the importance of actual user experience.

Lizzi even hilariously admits that Google’s own documentation on Page Experience only scored a middling 45 out of 100 on CWV metrics!

Rick echoes this sentiment, reminding us that real-world user experience trumps those scores.

“I think this is such a common cause of confusion because developers see one single number, and it’s red.

It’s scary. Do I need to panic?

I get this question all the time, and I say, ‘What really matters is what your real users are experiencing,’” explains Rick Viscomi.

A red score on a CWV test might be alarming, but what are your visitors actually experiencing? Is your website slow to load, full of clunky animations, or constantly rearranging elements as they scroll? Those are the real issues to address.

Incremental CWV improvements? Don’t expect ranking fireworks

Here’s where things get truly interesting. John Mueller, another Google guru, confirms that CWV is indeed a ranking factor. However, he throws a plot twist –minor improvements in CWV scores likely won’t cause a significant jump in search rankings.

“I think a big issue is also that site owners sometimes over-fixate on the metrics themselves… And then they spend months of time kind of working on this. And they see this as they’re doing something for their Search rankings. And probably a lot of those incremental changes are not really visible in Search,” says Rick.

Think of CWV as a single ingredient in a complex ranking recipe.

Google keeps the exact recipe under wraps (those coveted SEO details they refuse to divulge!), so fixating solely on perfect CWV scores misses the bigger picture. It might make your website technically sound, but it won’t necessarily make it stand out in the content jungle.

Speed is essential, but content remains king (for rankings)

In an interesting turn of the podcast discussion, Rick emphasizes the importance of overall website performance as a rising tide that lifts all boats. A fast-loading, well-optimized website creates a positive experience for everyone.

But when it comes to ranking high in search results, Lizzi suggests focusing on content quality. A website with lightning-fast speed but terrible, uninformative content won’t win the ranking race.

She says, “Yeah focusing on that and then still having like 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 make an improvement for your users or for search?”

Google, and ultimately, your users, crave valuable, engaging content that solves their problems or answers their questions.

The two-tiered approach: A user-centric & content-driven SEO strategy

So, here’s the key takeaway: Optimize your CWV for a smooth user experience. It’s good practice! A fast-loading, stable website with clear navigation keeps visitors happy and engaged.

However, don’t chase those perfect scores expecting instant ranking dominance.

For that, invest in creating high-quality content that Google and users will love. Provide insightful information, address user needs, and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.


This Google podcast sheds light on the nuanced relationship between CWV and search rankings. It’s a reminder to prioritize user experience and content quality for true SEO success.

By focusing on both, you create a website that not only ranks well but also keeps visitors coming back for more.

You can check out the podcast episode and the full discussion here: