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Core Web Vitals Challenge: WordPress vs Everyone

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HTTP Archive (sister site to Archive.org aka Wayback Machine) published real-world statistics of which content management system (CMS) achieved the best Core Web Vitals scores. The results show that while there was one clear winner, the results show that performance was mixed among all of them.

The HTTP Archive challenge matched WordPress versus Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace and Wix.

Those five were chosen based on their status as the top five most popular content management systems.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals consists of three metrics that together attempt to provide a snapshot of what the page-level user experience is. The three Core Web Vitals metrics measure how long a site visitor has to wait until they can see the page and begin to make use of it.

The Three Core Web Vitals Metrics

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Measures when the main content had downloaded, visible and useful to the site visitor.
  2. First Input Delay – How long a user has to wait for the site to react when interacting with a web page element like a link.
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift – Measures how long until the content stops shifting around and is stable enough to be successfully interacted with.

Mobile versus Desktop Performance

In general the desktop performance tended to be better than the mobile performance. This may be a reflection of the device’s ability to render a web page and the Internet network differences between a desktop and a mobile device, where a mobile device may have a slower experience.

The mobile Core Web Vital Scores are more important than the desktop scores because the majority of web page visitors access web pages with a mobile device. That is the reason why Google will in May 2021 use the mobile Core Web Vital scores for computing a ranking benefit for sites that have a passing Core Web Vitals score.

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Desktop performance scores are important and not to be ignored. But it’s the mobile Core Web Vitals scores that are critical and matter the most.

Graph showing Core Web Vitals Desktop versus Mobile

Scores Explained

The scores are based on actual site visits by users on the Google Chrome browser. These are real-world scores.

The scores are divided between desktop and mobile sites. As explained above, desktop sites scored higher but mobile scores matter most.

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Scores are expressed as percentages of websites that achieved a score of good for that particular metric. For example, a good score for Largest Contentful Paint is under 2.5 seconds.

So if a CMS scores 40%, that means 40% of websites had a good score.

Largest Contentful Paint

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is a metric that measures when a web page is visible and useful to a site visitor.

The top ranked CMS for LCP is Drupal. The lowest ranked CMS is Wix.

While Drupal was the winner, the Drupal mobile LCP score was only 47%. This means that only 47% of mobile Drupal websites offered site visitors a good user experience in terms of Largest Contentful Paint.

Drupal is the winner but only because the other CMS scores were so bad.

These are the LCP scores

  • Drupal – 47%
  • Joomla – 38%
  • WordPress – 25%
  • Squarspace – 12%
  • Wix – 9%

CMS Scores for Largest Contentful Paint

First Input Delay

First Input Delay (FID) measures how long it takes from when a user interacts with a site to when the site responds.

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The scores for FID were very high. Squarespace was the champion with a score of 91% of sites passed the FID test.

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WordPress was close behind in second place while Wix continued to cling to last place.

These are the rankings:

  • Squarespace – 91%
  • WordPress – 88%
  • Drupal – 76%
  • Joomla – 71%
  • Wix – 46%

Top 5 CMS rankings for first input delay metric

Cumulative Layout Shift

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures how much web page elements like forms, buttons, text and images, etc. shift around. A web page that shifts around is a bad user experience because it’s hard to read text that is sliding up and down/left to right on the phone screen.

The winner was Drupal again, this time with a solid 70% of Drupal sites providing a quality CLS experience. Wix came in third place, narrowly beating WordPress, but not by much.

These are the rankings for CLS

  • Drupal – 70%
  • Joomla – 63%
  • Wix – 59%
  • WordPress – 57%
  • Squarespace – 44%

While Drupal and Wix might have cause to celebrate, HTTP Archive gave them all a wag of the finger. They observed that the average score for the lot on mobile was 59%.

That means that only 59% of websites using one of the top five CMS presented a good user experience for Cumulative Layout Shift on mobile devices.

This is how HTTP Archive explained it:

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“The top 5 CMSs could improve here. Only 50% of web pages loaded by a top 5 CMS have a “good” CLS experience, with this figure rising to 59% on mobile.

Across all CMSs the average desktop score is 59% and average mobile score is 67%. This shows us all CMSs have work to do here, but the top 5 CMSs in particular need improvement.”

Winners and Less Than Winners

Drupal took the top spot twice and Wix took the held on to the bottom twice. WordPress and Joomla battled it out for somewhere in the middle, neither (relatively) nor (relatively) great.

The top five CMS scored decently for First Input Delay. But they turned in not so nice scores for Largest Contentful Paint and Cumulative Layout Shift.

This is important because Google’s making Core Web Vitals a ranking factor.

Even if that factor is a minor ranking factor, it’s still a ranking factor, which makes it important because it is one of the few ranking factors where it’s okay to openly try to influence it.

What makes this ranking factor difficult is that many of the changes necessary to score well in Core Web Vitals involve changes to how the CMS is coded.

That means that any changes to make a site perform better for Core Web Vitals should ideally be handled by the CMS developers and not the users of the CMS.

And that makes the users of WordPress, Drupal, etc less than winners because the resources and skills necessary to make these changes are not within reach of the every publisher.

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Read More

HTTP Archive Chrome User Experience Report

Core Web Vitals Not Really Your Problem?

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NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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Searchenginejournal.com

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