Google Now Says Core Web Vitals Used In Ranking Systems

Google updated their Page Experience Documentation in order to make it explicitly clear that Core Web Vitals are used by their ranking systems. What’s curious about the change is that Google continues to not say that Core Web Vitals are a ranking factor.

Googlers And Statements About Ranking Factors

Something kind of weird about Googlers is that it seems like they tend not to use the phrase ranking factor. For example, I did a site:search of former Google engineer Matt Cutts’ blog and I couldn’t find a single instance of him writing the phrase “ranking factor” in any of his posts. Same with his YouTube videos when talking about links like here and here.

John Mueller did say that Core Web Vitals was a ranking factor three years ago on Reddit in reference to the Core Web Vitals (CWV), but Google’s Page Experience In Search Results explainer never explicitly says Core Web Vitals are ranking factors.

Which brings us to Google’s SearchLiaison who caused a stir in February 2024 when he tweeted that Google’s documentation didn’t say that Core Web Vitals (CWV) were a ranking factor or a signal.

He tweeted:

“And people go “Well, what does ranking really mean. Maybe it’s signals? They didn’t say it’s not signals!”

So do we have a signal page experience signal? No. That’s why we made a page that says “There is no single signal.”

Oh but wait, so you have multiple signals? Yes, we anticipated this question which is why we have on that same page “Our core ranking systems look at a variety of signals.”

Which leads to things like “So is CWV a signal and if I don’t meet those, am I doomed?” Which is why that same page says “However, great page experience involves more than Core Web Vitals.”

We don’t list what is and isn’t a ranking signal on that page because things change. Maybe something was once; maybe it shifts but aligns with other things we might do to understand page experience. We’re trying to guide people toward some useful resources and things to thing about with page experience but in the end — do whatever you think is providing a great experience for your visitors.”

And in another tweet on the following day he wrote (referring to the Page Experience In Search explainer):

“I didn’t say we have a page experience “ranking signal” nor do we have some single signal like that. The page below specifically says we do NOT have something like that.

“Is there a single “page experience signal” that Google Search uses for ranking?

There is no single signal. Our core ranking systems look at a variety of signals that align with overall page experience.

We don’t say there’s one particular thing people need to do, nor do we say if you don’t do a particular think, you won’t rank. We say look across a range of things and try to provide a good page experience to your visitors”

SearchLiaison is right. The Page Experience In Search Results explainer document didn’t say that Core Web Vitals is a ranking factor, not even in 2022 when it was first published.

Google Almost Says CWV Is A Ranking Factor

After all the explaining without acknowledging Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor and two years of opaqueness in their Page Experience In Search Results documentation about CWV in relation to ranking factors, Google changed their mind and updated their documentation to almost say that Core Web Vitals are a ranking factor.

This is the ambiguous part that was removed from the documentation:

“What aspects of page experience are used in rankings?
There are many aspects to page experience, including some listed on this page. While not all aspects may be directly used to inform ranking, they do generally align with success in search ranking and are worth attention.”

The above passage was replaced with this new paragraph:

“What aspects of page experience are used in ranking?
Core Web Vitals are used by our ranking systems. We recommend site owners achieve good Core Web Vitals for success with Search and to ensure a great user experience generally.

Keep in mind that getting good results in reports like Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report or third-party tools doesn’t guarantee that your pages will rank at the top of Google Search results; there’s more to great page experience than Core Web Vitals scores alone. These scores are meant to help you to improve your site for your users overall, and trying to get a perfect score just for SEO reasons may not be the best use of your time.”

The new documentation doesn’t use the phrase “ranking factor” or “ranking signal” in reference to the core web vitals. But it now explicitly acknowledges that CWV is used by Google’s ranking systems, which is less ambiguous than the previous statement that high CWV scores are recommended for “success with Search.”

Read Google’s updated documentation:

Understanding page experience in Google Search results

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Graphic Grid

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