Core Web Vitals (CWV) have gained importance over the last few years regarding SEO. Many companies have also dedicated resources to improve their website’s CWV scores. However, high scores may not mean a good customer experience. Aarne Salminen, senior Manager of SEO and content marketing, Cloudways, explains the reasons.
In the last few years, Google’s core web vitals (CWV) have been at the forefront of conversations around user experience and search engine optimization for web professionals and businesses. Many individuals and corporations have devoted significant resources, time, and money to ensure that their customer-facing web portals align with the search engine’s preferred metrics for an optimal user experience.Â
With products housed on a website that boasts lightning-fast page-loading speed, ease of interaction with various digital elements, and stability of graphic components on the page, many businesses are able to achieve the coveted high CWV score. While this is no small feat and something all web professionals should strive for, it is not the be-all and end-all as far as customer satisfaction and experience are concerned.Â Â
Customer experience (CX) cannot be relegated to a few metrics; there is much more thought and effort involved in crafting an excellent experience for a website’s users. A website with a high CWV score could be lacking in overall user experience just as much as a website with a lower score.
CWV Is a Non-issue for Certain Websites
While many digital marketing influencers and web professionals will suggest that Google’s metrics are essential to all websites, the reality is determined more on a case-by-case basis. It is possible to maintain a good Google ranking and excel in customer and user experience without a high CWV score.Â
Interest-based websites and hobby sites that are not using ecommerce can place less of a premium on CWV. Some of these websites use popular content management systems and have a user base that is more concerned with content quality.Â
Similarly,Â public-figure-centric sites receive a majority of their traffic from social media or direct input, and the influence of their persona transcends any technical flaws that may be present on their site. These platforms, especially those of famous musicians, place priority on multimedia elements to sell music and merchandise. Elements like unoptimized images, above-the-fold content, and multimedia galleries will likely produce a lower CWV score but will provide fans with the ultimate customer experience.Â
A High CWV Score Does Not Guarantee Customer Retention
Customer retention is arguably one of the most important metrics of CX. It measures a business’s ability to keep its core customers returning to its product offering over an extended period. On a fundamental level, a customer will not continue using a business’s product unless they get some value from it. And while a site can have a good page experience from a technical standpoint, the CWV metric does not account for the basic value of a website or its product.Â
In short, the ability to retain a customer can be achieved without a high CWV score, and a high CWV score alone will not compensate for a flawed CX strategy.
The CWV metric also does not account for or indicate other important elements that make for a memorable and long-lasting customer experience and relationship. A brand’s copy, tone, usefulness, and overall appeal, as demonstrated by its website, are significant determinants of whether a customer will have a meaningful and enjoyable experience on the site. Nor does CWV measure a site’s flow or division of content.Â
The success of these metrics is the baseline of CX as a whole and heavily impacts the customer retention rate. People visit a site to find the solution to a problem; if they do not find it on the landing page or if the flow of the site does not guide them there, they will leave. Developers always need to keep in mind that it takes more than a high CWV score to retain a customer.Â
Core Web Vitals as We Know It Is Bound to Change
The current iteration of Google’s Core Web Vitals is, in all likelihood, only the beginning. Google is constantly updating its requirements, and the existing metrics are not robust enough to holistically determine UX and CX. The company’s plausible next step is introducing more metrics under the CWV umbrella. Core Web Vitals metrics only scratch the surface of what should be taken into account when optimizing or creating a website that will hit the CX bullseye. At present, these metrics focus on the performance of page-level sitewide content; in later stages, they may evolve to include site-level metrics.Â
The weight of CWV as it pertains to SEO is currently not as significant as some would think. A high score does not automatically guarantee a high ranking in a Google search. If that were the case, well-known and well-respected brands would not be able to get away with the lower scores they have.Â
There is no telling how many years will pass until Google announces an update, but one can assume that it may make CWV a bigger part of SEO as a whole. That said, Google would be wise first to establish a more robust set of indicators for CX.Â
Customer experience should always be a priority. Businesses owe their prospective customers a meaningful and valuable experience. While the Core Web Vitals set of metrics is important to be aware of and take advantage of, a high score is not an automatic indicator that a website is user-friendly and provides an excellent customer experience. On the other hand, that does not mean businesses cannot glean information from their CVW scores to build a better experience for users and help their own profit margins thrive.