connecting the dots for page experience success

30-second summary:

  • The Mobile Experience is critical for all categories when looking at Core Web Vitals (CVW)
  • Image compression seems to be a leading challenge for leading brands
  • Pages doing well for CVW tend to be informational
  • Retail, in particular, could see significant disruption if second-tier retailers receive a boost
  • Across all sectors, there is opportunity and time for improvement and preparation as long as issues are addressed as a business priority.
  • Enterprise Search and Digital Marketers need to prescribe the right course of action to meet vital core benchmarks.
  • They must also convince the rest of the organization that the efforts will be worth the results.

The long-awaited implementation of mobile-first indexing is now upon us, meaning that content visible only on the desktop will be ignored from this point on by the world’s largest search engine. Mobile-first has been a priority of Google for years as the beat of the user experience drum has grown to a crescendo. A few short months from now, the Page Experience update will also roll out. According to Google, page experience “measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page” and consists of five significant Search signals. Hopefully, you’re familiar with at least four of these, as they’ve been in play for some time. Mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines have been rolled out and updated as Google has sought to keep pace with evolving consumer expectations.


So what’s new?

In May, signals from a new metric called Core Web Vitals (CVW) will combine with these existing four signals for one mega-metric called Page Experience. BrightEdge (my company) studied CWVs preparedness and mobile-first compliance to determine the potential impact on sites in four major industries. But first, it’s essential to understand the CVW opportunity and the relationship between this new set of metrics and the mobile-first index.

Demystifying Core Web Vitals

Before we go any further, note that CVs are not a guideline that could instigate a penalty if not followed. Cloaking is one such example of a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and if you’re caught out at it, you risk being penalized by Google. Core Web Vitals, on the other hand, is an opportunity. You won’t get a penalty if you fail to meet the thresholds for each of the three significant areas of focus that make up the CVW signal. But you will miss out on the rankings boost available to those who meet the standards.

And what are those standards?

Meeting one of two of these goals won’t suffice; Google has confirmed that all three must be met to see the rankings boost available via CWV. You can read more about these essential metrics here.

Core Web Vitals and mobile-first go hand-in-hand for search UX

Safe browsing, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines are relatively straightforward — you’re either in line with the policies or you’re not. Mobile-first and Core Web Vitals are more complex, consisting of a greater volume of moving parts, and therefore are getting the lion’s share of webmaster attention as the May rollout looms. Hosting, site structure, image optimization, and more can impact how your site loads on mobile. James Parsons recently shared a 28-point checklist of optimizations to work through as you prepare for CWVs that every webmaster and SEO should check out.

Mobile-first has an outsized impact due to its influence on local search experience. When local consumers are out in their neighborhoods searching for nearby companies to meet their needs, the website must load lightning-fast. Considering that 60 percent of mobile searches have local intent, most businesses cannot afford to ignore Google’s emphasis on the mobile index.

So how are businesses doing in preparing for the Page Experience update? BrightEdge (my company) recently conducted research that compared top sites in different industries to see how vulnerable each is to the May update. We currently have no way to gauge how impactful the introduction of CWVs to the ranking algorithm will be. So we wanted to both explore preparedness and establish a baseline.

Here’s what we found.

Which sites stand to benefit from the Core Web Vitals boost?

We analyzed over 1,500 URLs across four industries for this study:

  • Education (253 URLs)
  • Finance (328 URLs)
  • B2B (302 URLs)
  • Retail (689 URLs)

Rather than using the homepage, we selected the URLs responsible for driving organic traffic for each site. For each webpage, we measured Share of Voice for the top 500 keywords in each industry, analyzed mobile page speed performance using the Crux database, and evaluated adherence to Core Web Vitals using the parameters:

  • Largest Contentful Paint: Less than 2.5 Seconds
  • First Input Delay: Less than .1 Second
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: Less than .01

As it turns out, some industries are better prepared than others for the Page Experience update, as reflected in these findings of what percentage of URLs would receive the Core Web Vitals rankings boost if it rolled out today:

  • 24 percent of Finance URLs
  • 13 percent of B2B URLs
  • Five percent of Education URLs
  • Less than one percent of Retail URLs

As you can see, there are massive seats at the table for brands that act now to get in line with this upcoming update. First-movers will enjoy the benefits of this ranking boost when it hits. The full findings can be found here.

  1. LCP has an impact on user bounce rates, and reducing the time to First Contentful Paint can improve conversions by up to 15 percent
  2. CLS impacts conversion as layout shift annoys users and disrupts their experience
  3. FID is essential in your site’s ability to respond to the action a user wants to take. Helps a website react more quickly to the steps your audiences take
  4. Enterprise sites built on apps that require a lot of scripts to execute are creating complexity and potentially significant investment to bring in line with CVs.

Here are some of our findings by industry.


  • More than 50 percent of pages met all three CWVs criteria on desktop
  • Job listings sites like most often met the CVW thresholds


  • More than 60 percent of pages met all three CWVs criteria on desktop
  • Banking and brokerage sites struggled while informational resources such as Investopedia excelled


  • Close to 70 percent of pages met all three CWVs criteria on desktop
  • Informational and definition-type pages performed best, while transactional content struggled


  • More than 50 percent of pages met all three CWVs criteria on desktop
  • Again, informational resources such as Tech Radar and Consumer Reports performed best

It is worth mentioning that in Retail, multiple product listings from the exact domains dominated the share of voice, resulting in a higher proportion of retail URLs being tested. We did not see a single example of major online retailers (Amazon, Target, and others) winning a share of voice with their homepages – rather, their organic traffic is fueled by product and category pages.

We hypothesize that page attributes such as hero images of products and promotional pop-ups are driving non-compliance for the largest contentful paint and layout shift.

Key Takeaways

Core Web Vitals signals, and the larger Page Experience set of metrics are sure to be impactful. Still, they are among many signals that indicate to Google that your webpage offers a safe, positive, and user experience for the searcher. This is the heart and soul of every update Google makes and should therefore be the driving force in your SEO strategy.

Keep these findings in mind as you prepare for the Page Experience update and implementation of Core Web Vitals as Google ranking signals:

  • The mobile experience is impactful and critical to optimize across all industries.
  • Image compression and optimization are proving challenging for many brands, which presents an opportunity for those able to get this right.
  • More informational pages meet Core Web Vitals metrics than transactional ones.
  • Retail brands stand to experience major volatility in search results, particularly if second-tier retailers can capitalize on Page Experience and receive a rankings boost.

Enterprise digital marketers and SEOs must work now on the right course of action to meet vital core benchmarks so they are not left behind. How you communicate the potential impact of this upcoming shift to decision-makers to win buy-in is key.

Tyson Houlding
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for writing, photography, and exploring new places. I started this blog when I was 18 years old to share what I was learning about the world with family and friends. I’ve since grown into a freelance writer, blogger, and photographer with a growing audience. I hope you find inspiration and motivation while reading through my work!