How Page Experience Ranking Factors Actually Work

Google’s John Mueller discussed various scenarios of how Page Experience ranking factors did and did not influence rankings. It didn’t downplay Core Web Vitals (CWV) as a ranking factor, but rather added context for the types of situations where the Page Experience ranking factor makes a difference and examples of why it would be mitigated.

Mueller’s answer is extensive and touches on several interesting topics.

How important is the Core Web Vitals ranking factor?

The question Mueller answered in a recent Google Office Hours video was in response to someone who noted that his website had recently dropped due to what he believed to be the influence of the Core Web Vitals ranking signal. .

The person asking the question wanted to know how important web vitals are as a ranking factor.

Here is the question:

“My website has seen a drop in visitors due to poor quality of vital web data.

Now I’m back on track, but learned that the Page Experience update is also rolling out for desktop.

How does the page experience rank on desktop and how important is it compared to other ranking factors? »

John Mueller discussing the Page Experience Ranking Factor

When a Ranking Factor Doesn’t Help Rankings

John Mueller started his answer by explaining how Google might not apply the page experience ranking factor.

This is an interesting answer as it is believed that ranking factors still apply, but Mueller offers a scenario where a ranking factor is “mitigated” in order to provide the correct search result.

But Mueller shows an example of when this ranking factor is pushed aside in order to give a Google user what they are looking for.

John Mueller provided this example:

“So like on mobile, the page experience ranking factor is basically something that gives us a little bit of additional information about these different pages that might show up in search results.

And in situations where we have a clear and strong intent of the request, where we can understand that they really want to go to that website, then from that point of view, we can kind of relax using the experience of the page as a ranking factor.”

This is interesting because it is easy to think of search engine results pages (SERPs) as ten links to sites ranked by ranking factors.

But there are many things that influence a site’s ranking and this is an example of how ranking factors can be set aside for certain reasons.

When the Page Experience Signal Helps

Mueller then explains how the Page Experience ranking signal works.

He has previously stated that this ranking signal is not a tiebreaker.

Now he provides an example of the type of scenario where the ranking signal comes into play and helps a site rank better.

“On the other hand, if all of the content is very similar in the search results page, then using Page Experience probably helps a bit in understanding which of those pages are fast pages or reasonable pages in terms of is about user experience and which of these are somehow the least reasonable pages to show up in search results.

And this kind of situation helps us there.

The desktop page experience update will not bring drastic changes

Mueller then talks about the desktop version of the Page Experience update which was announced on February 22, 2022 and which was announced by Google to be complete on March 3, 2022.

He says he thinks the deployment will take about a month.

His statements weren’t made until three days after the update was announced, however, and the video itself wasn’t released until two days after the update was completed.

John Mueller’s estimate of how long the update will take should be considered in the context in which it was made, which was an estimate and not a definitive statement.

Mueller focuses on ranking changes from the desktop page experience ranking factor and says that publishers shouldn’t see big ranking changes because of this ranking factor.

John explains:

“So from that perspective, with the desktop ranking shifting, like with mobile, I wouldn’t expect a drastic increase in search results from one day to the next as as we roll this out.

At most, if things are really bad for your website, you will see some kind of gradual decline.

I think the important takeaway is that if publishers were to experience any “drastic” changes in search results when the desktop page experience update was rolled out, it would be a mistake to assume that those changes were related to the update.

Websites don’t fall due to poor core web vitals

Mueller then discusses the subject of Core Web Vitals in the context of understanding why a site has dropped in search results.

The point he makes is that Web Vitals’ central ranking signal may represent small changes, but it’s not the type of signal that would result in huge change.

Mueller continued his response:

“The other thing I might caution against is kind of the first sentence you got there, that your website dropped due to poor quality Core Web Vitals.

I suspect, for the most part, that websites wouldn’t see a big visible change when it comes to Core Web Vitals.

Even if your website goes from kind of reasonable to being in that poor bucket in Core Web Vitals overnight, I wouldn’t expect to see that as some kind of giant shift in results of research.

Maybe change a few positions, seems like the right change there.

But I wouldn’t see it as a page going from…I don’t know…number two to number fifty like that just because of Core Web Vitals.

If you see a drastic change like this, I wouldn’t just focus on Core Web Vitals.

I would try to step back and look at the bigger picture and see what else might be involved.

And try to figure out what you can do to make things better overall rather than just focusing on Core Web Vitals.

Because Core Web Vitals is something that takes a lot of work.

And sometimes it’s hard to get all of these things aligned.

But it’s also, as I mentioned, something that’s more of a subtle ranking factor and not like a super strong factor.

So this is something where if you see any significant changes I would recommend that you don’t spend too much time on the Core Web Vitals side and instead try to figure out what the most significant change is or where it comes from comes for your site.

Takeaways from Page Experience as a Ranking Factor

John Mueller provided several insights in his response:

  • The Page Experience Ranking Factor is “damped” when a user expects to see a specific website
  • The Page Experience Ranking Factor is useful when multiple sites have similar responses
  • Desktop Page Experience update is not responsible for major ranking changes
  • Core Web Vitals is not responsible for huge ranking changes
  • Core Web Vitals can influence small ranking changes


How Core Web Vitals works as a ranking factor

Watch the video at minute 42:21

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