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Do Google Lighthouse Scores Have an Impact on SEO?

Although Google Lighthouse is the de facto tool for measuring Core Web Vitals, its performance scores do not always have an impact on SEO.

Google Lighthouse is the most frequently recommended tool for calculating Core Web Vitals and other performance metrics.

So it must have an impact on SEO, right?

Wrong.

If the questions asked by SEOs are any indication, Lighthouse’s power is vastly overstated.

This week, Google’s John Mueller responded to one such question in the Reddit r/SEO forum.

A question has been raised regarding low-performance scores in Lighthouse and whether they have a negative impact on organic search rankings.

The user mentions that they’ve managed to raise their score from 6 to 21, but that there’s still a long way to go given that the top score is 100.

Lighthouse scores, fortunately, have no direct impact on SEO.

Furthermore, a score of 21 may not be as bad as this person believes.

Mueller explains his reasoning.

Read How to Run an Outreach Link Building Campaign?

Google’s John Mueller Discusses Lighthouse Scores and SEO

Mueller begins his response by emphasizing that going from a score of 6 to a score of 21 represents a significant improvement.

Visitors will now have a better experience when they arrive at the site. Even if SEO is removed from the equation, this is a good thing.

Despite the fact that Lighthouse scores are a measure of a site’s usability, Google does not use them for search.

Because the Lighthouse score is based on lab data, and Google is more concerned with a site’s performance as experienced by actual visitors.

“Going from 6 to 21 will probably be noticable to users, so you have that effect independently of SEO.

Google doesn’t use the X/100 lighthouse score for search, we use the core web vitals separately (lcp, cls, fid). I think you can get those from Lighthouse too, but there are lots of other tools that also show them.

Google uses the values as users see them, which requires a certain amount of traffic first. If this is a smaller site (I don’t know), you might not have enough traffic anyway, so that wouldn’t be a factor (Search Console shows if it has data).”

Google relies on field data gathered from real visitors rather than Lighthouse scores calculated with lab data.

If a site receives little traffic, Google will not have enough field data to calculate its Core Web Vitals scores.

In such cases, the Lighthouse score becomes even less reliable.

Muller reminds the original poster that the Core Web Vitals/Page Experience update’s ranking boost does not trump relevance.

A site with low rankings can still rank if its content is relevant to a user’s search.

“Core web vitals / page experience doesn’t replace relevance, but it’s also more than just a tie-breaker. For competitive queries, you might see some effects. If someone’s looking for your business name, it’s less important. Check the queries you rank for and guestimate based on that.”

Lastly, Mueller offers some practical advice for improving usability.

“Sometimes smaller things can make a big difference, like caching images or serving them (+videos, ads, etc) with predefined dimensions. Don’t give up just because someone says it’s hard :). Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it’s a matter of finding the easy things.”

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