I think most of us can agree that website speed is important – not the least the way Google measure it and report it to us as “Core Web Vitals”. But then, how can a site that fixed it’s speed issue drop 20% in search traffic as a direct consequence?
I will show you …
Google Core Web Vitals
Googles Core Web Vitals is a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of a web page.
Especially the loading performance – the speed very directly correlate with how well a site can and will potentially rank in Google.
Generally speaking it pays to optimize your Core Web Vitals. The goal is to have 100% Google Pages, as reported in Google Search Console. Something like this (from one of our clients, I am happy to say)
We have often seen website get 40%, 60% or even 100% more traffic just from optimizing the speed and improving the Core Web Vitals!
It is probably the single strongest technical SEO-factor there is.
The Case: Website lost 20% traffic after optimizing Core Web Vitals
So, how can a website drop 20% in non branded search traffic after optimizing the speed? And can it really be the reason?
As odd as it may sound the answer is yes!
But why is that? I just told you that speed is good and is likely to give you better rankings, so why did this website drop after optimizing the speed?
It is actually a really interesting case that has to do with layers of problems and how solving one can actually reveal others and more serious problems.
In this case the website had a terrible speed and almost zero pages passing Googles Core Web Vitals test.
But this website also had serious problems with duplicate content. This however, was not fully identified by Google because the website was so slow that they never crawlede much of it.
But when the speed issues was fixed Google could suddenly crawl everything – including the millions of duplicated pages. And that backfired seriously! They ended up dropping 20% in non-branded search.
So what can you learn from this? Never to optimize the speed of your site? Hell no! But you do need to understand all the technical SEO-aspects of your site before fixing anything.
And yes, technical SEO is indeed very complex, you can’t always (fully) trust Googles documentation on this and it can can be expensive to fix everything.
That is why you need SEO-geeks like us.
My good friend Martin MacDonald was involved with this case and did a good video-report on it, that you should watch …