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Mediocre Core Web Vitals Enough if Competitors are Worse?



Mediocre Core Web Vitals Enough if Competitors are Worse?

Search Engine Journal’s Loren Baker asked if a mediocre core web vital score was good enough in situations where the competition is scoring poorly. In other words, is it good enough if your scores are better than the competition? Martin answered the question and then went into detail about the role of tie breaking and how big an effect the scores will have.

Screenshot of Loren Baker Interviewing Martin Splitt

Screenshot of Loren Baker interviewing Martin Splitt of Google

Loren asked,

“How relative is core web vitals to the space that someone competes in? Is it still as important to prioritize all of these fixes if the folks in their competitive space are not and how much of a difference will that make?”

Relevancy and Content Are Paramount

Martin’s answer implied that even if mediocre Core Web Vitals were better than the competition, what really matters most is the content and the relevance.

Martin Splitt answered:

“This is really really hard to answer because it is obviously one out of many signals and …it should be obvious that relevancy and good content still matters more than speed because that content delivered fast is still that content.”

Tie Breaking Ranking Signal Events are Rare

There’s an understanding in the SEO industry that small ranking factors like page speed or HTTPs are tie breakers.

Martin Splitt revealed that ranking situations where a tie breaker decides the ranking is exceedingly rare.

Screenshot of Martin Splitt Commenting on Ranking Signals

Screenshot of Martin Splitt
Martin Splitt says that in ranking all things are never equal

Martin continued his answer:

“So, assuming that all other things being equal (they never are!)… you might see that the core web vitals have a tie-breaker effect where you would see a ranking improvement.

Obviously, that is practically never the case so you might, depending a little bit on your niche and on the specific circumstances on your page versus your competitors pages, you might see bigger effects or you might see slower, smaller effects, depending again on the query, on the intention, on the location, on all the other factors that might be there.”

Core Web Vitals Effect Might be Variable?

Martin expressed that he was unsure how much of an effect the core web vitals ranking effect might have in the search results.



“So I can’t say it’s not going to be a big shift because for some people it will be a big shift.

I can’t say it’s going to be small shift because it’s not going to be a small shift because for some people it will be insignificantly small.

So that’s something that remains to be observed.”

Loren asked,

“Do you think that shift will grow over time though even if it is small at the beginning?”

Martin answered:

“Maybe. Maybe it doesn’t. I expect it to be roughly similar to HTTPS, maybe a bit stronger because HTTPS is now a component of the page experience signal once the rollout happens.”

Strength of Web Vitals Ranking Signal

A lot of times when a Googler says “maybe” to an answer some people feel that they are hiding something.

But that’s not always the case.

In another interview (about passage ranking) Martin Splitt mentioned that they don’t always know what the weighting on ranking signals are because machine learning adjusts them up and down automatically. So it might be possible that the mix of signals related to core web vitals might be stronger than other page experience signals or maybe less.


But one thing that Martin was emphatic about is that content and relevancy are the top priorities in ranking and that tie breaking ranking signals practically never happen.

And it appears that the answer to the question of is it good enough to have mediocre core web vitals scores if the competition has poorer scores is no because content and relevancy scores remain the most important signal for ranking.


Watch Martin Splitt discuss core web vitals scores at the 5:15 minute mark:


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



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.


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.


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.


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

[embedded content]

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