This week Google’s John Mueller discussed Google’s new Core Web Vitals and also explained that Google might take into account noindexed pages when working out Core Web Vitals scores for websites.
As reported recently, this could be big news for us SEOs and it’s something that everyone responsible for a website with noindexed pages should potentially be aware of in the long run.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are Google’s new metrics that it will use to work out how good the user experience is on your website. When talking to people about it it’s probably easiest to speak about it as being about speed, but it really is a lot more than that.
The Three Core Web Vitals Are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- This is all about how fast the user thinks a page has loaded.
- First Input Delay (FID)
- This is all about how long it takes before the user can do something.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
- This is all about how stable the content on the page is after the page starts to load.
Google suggested the Core Web Vitals ranking factors will be rolled out around May, so the SEO community has been grilling Googlers about how Google calculates the score attributed to Core Web Vitals.
Why It Matters Core Web Vitals Are Based on Field Data
During a recent conversation, John Mueller confirmed Web Core Vitals will be based on field data and this is important. Lab data is about estimates based on a simulation. Apparently, there are a number of Google’s ranking factors that are based on lab data, but field data points to them really being concerned with the actual page experience of real-life users.
A lot of things can play into how a real-life user actually experiences a page and a lot of things can change that experience. I’m sure Google has factored that in in the form of averages and discarding outliers. And we don’t yet know if Google even uses an average over the whole site or averages from the use of multiple pages.
I expect it will be multiple pages because many pages will have so little search traffic that you’re never going to have enough data to understand the page experience.
What Has Noindex Got To Do With Core Web Vitals?
Noindex is a type of HTML tag developed by Google to indicate that a page shouldn’t be included in their index of the internet.
In almost all cases when Google sees that tag on a tag, the page will be removed from the search results.
A question was put to Mueller by someone who said they’ve got a number of slow pages which they’ve noindexed. The person asked if the noindexed pages would be taken into account. Whilst Mueller wasn’t 100% clear in his answer, he did seem to suggest there would be a good possibility they would have an impact on Web Core Vital scores.
So whilst we wouldn’t normally think about noindexed pages when thinking about how the site is optimised, from now on we’re going to have to put some weight on them as well.
Whilst this is being reported as a possibility, Google’s own webmaster support centre seems to suggest that only indexed pages will be included in the Core Web Vital report. So who knows!