Core Web Vitals Impact on Google Business Profile Landing Pages

In 2021 Google announced it would include page experience signals as a ranking factor. Included in page experience signals are Core Web Vitals which help measure the quality of a website experience.

We wanted to know if page experience signals affect local rankings, so we studied 4,500 Google Business Profiles and analyzed the landing pages for the top-ranking results. We ran Core Web Vitals diagnostics to see how they stacked up against Google’s page experience standards.

Do Core Web Vitals Impact Ranking In Local Search?

Key Findings of Study

  • We found that better Core Web Vitals do not currently result in higher local finder/pack rankings.
  • Only 3% of local businesses received good mobile performance scores.
  • 83% of local businesses studied have poor content load speed, with an average speed of 9.5s for content to load (Largest Contentful Paint).
  • 61% of local businesses have good scores when it comes to the visual stability of content (Cumulative Layout Shift). 

Study Breakdown:

  • We chose 15 industries/Google Business Profile categories: Dentist, Auto dealer, Lawyer, Plumber, HVAC, Locksmith, Realtor, Restaurant, Massage Therapist, Chiropractor, Mover, Contractor, Storage facility, Gym, and Veterinarian. 
  • And 15 U.S. cities with large populations: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas, Miami, Atlanta, Columbus, Detroit, and Oklahoma City.  
  • We studied the top 20 Local Finder rankings for each “industry + city” search, aiming to analyze 4,500 Google Business Profiles and their landing pages.
  • Out of the 4,500 GBP listings, 298 did not have a linked website and we were only able to get a score for 4,158 landing pages. 

Core Web Vitals Scores for All Sites Studied

METRICGOODNEEDS IMPROVEMENTPOORAVERAGE
Mobile Performance Score3%30%67%42
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)5%12%83%9.5s
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) 61%17%22%0.17
First Input Delay (FID)12%14%73%1,368ms

Core Web Vitals Scores for Sites Ranking 1 – 10

METRICGOODNEEDS IMPROVEMENTPOORAVERAGE
Mobile Performance Score3%27%69%40
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)5%11%84%9.8s
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) 62%17%21%0.18
First Input Delay (FID)11%13%76%1,431ms

When we analyze the landing pages earning the top rankings, there’s little difference compared to the aggregate data.

What do the Core Web Vitals Scores Mean?

We’ve outlined below how Core Web Vitals scores are categorized as poor, needs improvement, and good.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) Scores

  • Good: <= 2.5s
  • Needs Improvement: <=4s
  • Poor: >4s

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) Scores

  • Good: <= 0.10
  • Needs Improvement: <=0.25
  • Poor: >0.25

First Input Delay (FID) Scores

  • Good: <= 100ms
  • Needs Improvement: <=300ms
  • Poor: >300ms

Mobile Performance Scores – Performance score is a weighted average of all the CWV metric scores.

  • Good: 90 – 100
  • Needs Improvement: 50 – 89
  • Poor: 0-49

Local Business Websites Are Performing Poorly & Still Ranking

From this snapshot, we see that mobile performance scores and Core Web Vitals don’t have a big impact when it comes to rank. Most landing pages received a “poor” score for quality experience, with the exception of Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). 

We hypothesize 61% of local businesses studied scored well for CLS because these sites likely don’t host ads or other dynamic content, and thus offer more visual stability for a site visitor. While you should get test results for your own site, most local businesses will likely have to focus their attention on improving scores for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Mobile Performance. 

Local businesses likely score poorly for LCP & FID due to website hosts with slow server response time, unoptimized images and videos, and bloated Javascript on the site with no developers to address the problem or help reduce Long Tasks.

What kind of experience are your customers having on your website? Make user experience a priority and enhance your local SEO strategy with help from Whitespark. Learn more about our local search services.

Why Do Core Web Vitals Matter For Local Search?

While Core Web Vitals don’t appear to have a big affect on rankings right now, website managers should strive to provide the best experience for visitors and these metrics can help you determine what to work on. 

Every business should care about improving website experience. Google is currently rolling out more updates based on page experience signals, and websites that ignore low Core Web Vitals scores could be negatively affected in the very near future.

User experience is a conversion factor. If your website isn’t providing a positive experience, you will lose prospective customers. Even if your site ranks well, a poor user experience can lead to lost sales.

Google found that 53% of visits to a mobile site are abandoned if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Using a neural network to look at bounce rates and conversion data, it found that when load times increase from 1 to 7 seconds, there is a 113% increase in the probability of visitors bouncing from the site.

When we look at the first page results in the Local Finder, 83% of the websites are taking longer than 4 seconds to load content for the visitor, and the average load time was 9.5 seconds.

This means most businesses are leaving money on the table from prospective customers bouncing back to the results. Don’t fumble acquiring a customer at the last yard line. If you want to get the most out of your hard-earned ranking, make sure your site speed is optimized and your Core Web Vitals are in check.

How does your website stack up compared to our sample data? Are you working to improve the page experience for your customers and website visitors? Let us know in the comments below!

AUTHOR

Tomas Acuna

Tomas is a Local SEO Services Account Manager, and has been in the digital marketing world for the past 3 years. He loves helping clients optimize their websites developing local SEO strategies & tactics to help clients’ improve rankings, optimize conversions, and reach more customers from search.

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