I think the same about it as I did with the previous Google Pagespeed Insights.
- Has some useful metrics to help you optimize your site for performance, SEO, performance, accessibility, and proper coding standards.
- But also has some misleading or inaccurate metrics.
- Not a helpful overall context of asset load and what things are going right.
Try measuring your site at https://web.dev/measure/ and let’s go over what we see.
Overall, I’m not a fan.
- This is the Web Vitals report for wpjohnny.com
If you like it and it helps you, by all means keep using it. But for my personal workflow, it’s a useless tool. Here’s why…
1. Misleading or inaccurate metrics.
Look at the report for my site. Time to interactive is 4 seconds? And largest contentful paint is nearly 5 seconds? That’s just wrong.
And I get why. It’s because Web Vitals, as with any other speed testing tool, can’t accurately measure for every possible type of web application. WordPress loads differently, Joomla loads differently, Shopify loads differently, every CMS is different.
Imagine testing different kinds of cars. Maybe in one model, a certain type of sound is good. In another model, that same sound could be bad. Anyway…moving on.
2. Misleading priorities
This is a problem with any page testing tool, really. (I’ve covered it before in my long rant about why page scores don’t matter). They prioritize certain metrics in ways that don’t actually reflect your site load.
If you don’t know what you’re doing…you’re going to freak about all the red items for no reason. They’ll make you think THAT is why your site is slow.
But more often than not, your site is slow for some other reason…and quite often, that reason isn’t even covered in the page tool!
So basically, they make a big stink out of little things, while still missing the big things. And of course, most people won’t know any better. They’ll argue with their developers (ugggghhhhh).
3. Lacking helpful overview
Web Vitals doesn’t give you an overview of how your site loads and where things are. There’s no waterfall, no list of assets. Instead it just gives you a list of automated recommendations.
I’m sorry but that’s not very useful to professionals.
Professionals simply prefer to see numbers and facts and we decide how we want to interpret them. We don’t need some automated tool to take random guesses at what’s good or bad.
Is Google Web Vitals totally useless?
I personally wouldn’t use it at all. Wouldn’t let it dictate my development or speed optimization work whatsoever. The metrics are not useful to how I work.
Does it mean that I shouldn’t care about any of their metrics?
- Of course not. I do care but I measure them in a different way. Not only that but personally, I already measure several other things that are more accurate to my clients pages and application software.
- Again, you have to remember that Web Vitals doesn’t specifically test for only WordPress sites. It tests for all sites. Would you apply a generic checklist for Toyota cars to your Ford truck? Of course not!
Does it mean you can’t use the tool?
- You can do whatever you want. If you find it useful and you like the results. Go ahead.
Will a site be penalized if it doesn’t satisfy all the recommendations?
- No (not in my experience). Many super-fast high-ranking sites don’t satisfy all those recommendations.
- But you’re welcome to follow your fears anyway you want.
Will getting higher page scores help differentiate ranking between 2 similar sites?
- In my experience, no. But you’re welcome to do your own independent testing.
- Try searching up keywords for any niche and compare their SEO ranking with page scores.
What should most users do? Follow or don’t follow Web Vitals?
- Most users aren’t experienced enough to interpret these tools correctly. Whether they follow or don’t follow the tool won’t help them much either way IMO (for performance or SEO).
- They should be using developers who KNOW which metrics are important to which sites.
What tool does Johnny prefer then?
- GTmetrix is my favorite. But that doesn’t mean I freak out and care about all the metrics it gives. I only pay attention to a few certain places.
- Last but not least, I optimize my (and client’s) websites for best load and UX! I optimize for humans, not test scores.