Does Slow Internet Affect Core Web Vitals Scores?
Page speed is a primary concern for SEO consultants and webmasters as a fast-loading website is undoubtedly crucial for user experience. However, professional SEO consultants who work on sites with visitors coming from countries with predominantly slow Internet hope that Google’s Core Web Vitals scoring would consider their situation. John Mueller discussed this matter in a recent Google Office Hours Hangout.
There are two types of data that Google can generate: lab data and field data. The former is an estimated score using a simulated environment, usually generated by testing core web vitals using Lighthouse. On the other hand, field data is what’s always included in PageSpeed Insights reports, which is based on real-world data. The information is gathered from users who have anonymously agreed to provide the search engine company with their site download speed information.
An SEO asked Mueller regarding their newly-updated website, saying that they gained a score of 100 in the lab testing. But when they saw the updated field scores, which were based on their actual site visitors, there was a significant decrease. They added that they are well-informed about the difference between lab and field data, and they are aware that it takes a while before the latter is updated.
The person wondered why the simulated lab data showed a positive change in their scores, but actually applying the strategy made their metrics worse. Mueller reminded them about the reporting delay with field data, and the SEO responded that they have already waited over 28 days for the scores to be updated.
Mueller replied that it is difficult to pinpoint the cause without considering the details. He advised the SEO to determine which specific part of Core Web Vitals is affected, whether it’s Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) or the Largest Contentful Pain (LCP).
Then, Mueller told the SEO to take the lab data’s accuracy with a grain of salt. According to him, lab data is just an assumption, meaning Google systems predict what might happen in the field. But in reality, there are many other factors to consider that may not be included in lab data, such as the location of the users, the kind of devices they use, and so on.
The SEO then asked if Google considers slower Internet speeds in other countries. As Core Web Vitals scores are determined using actual user metrics, websites with users that predominantly have low-quality data connections could be at a serious disadvantage.
Mueller admitted that he does not really know much about the final setup, but the general idea of their system is to give the users an excellent browsing experience. So if the users are experiencing slowdowns, it will affect the site’s Core Web Vitals scores regardless of the reason.
Some businesses think that blocking traffic from countries with slow Internet would improve their Core Web Vitals scores. However, this approach is overly fixated on the Core Web Vitals, and many professional SEO consultants do not recommend using this method. Doing so will only force users to use VPNs or proxies, which will lead to an even slower website overall.
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