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Industry Report Reveals Google’s Core Web Vitals Will Catch Ecommerce Sector Unprepared

Google is introducing a set of metrics called Core Web Vitals as ranking signals. Starting in May 2021, search rank will be determined from a mobile-centric perspective with a focus on load times, interactivity, and visual stability. But key findings from Ryte’s Industry Report on Web Vitals in the Ecommerce Sector paint an alarming picture.

The results from the latest Ryte Industry report are in, and major players in the ecommerce segment are headed for a rude awakening! That’s because the upcoming May 2021 switch to Core Web Vitals as Google ranking signals will put a premium on mobile page experiences and frankly, even the most prominent online shopping websites have a long way to go to maintain their search rank.

As a main takeaway from the report, the number of ecommerce domains with poor performance scores on mobile is almost twice as high as their desktop counterparts. That’s alarming because we’re talking about some of the top 50 online shops! Although mobile is more important than ever for search rank, 36% of analyzed websites scored poorly on mobile, but only 19% had a poor score on desktop.

Download the full report here, and keep reading below for key findings.

Why are Core Web Vitals important?

Google’s Core Web Vitals serve to quantify key elements of what constitutes a positive user experience along three dimensions:

1. Loading: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Largest Contentful Paint or LCP measures how long it takes to fully load the first frame of the page that the user sees. This above-the-fold content should load within 2.5 seconds or faster.

2. Interactivity: First Input Delay (FID)

FID quantifies a potential lag between a user trying to interact with a page, for instance by hitting a link or button, and the browser responding. Should be less than 100 milliseconds, ideally.

3. Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Measures visual changes such as random appearance of buttons, videos, images, and pop-ins. Google wants to keep overall visual stability high with less than 0.1-point shift.

What the Ryte Industry report measured

Ryte analyzed ecommerce sites operated by the largest online retailers across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in four Industries (Electronics & Media, Fashion, Food & Personal Care, Toys, Hobbies, DIY). With about 29 domains analyzed per industry, the study used 114 unique domain groups containing 207,669 URLs with an equal share of desktop and mobile pages.

5 Key Findings from the Ryte Web Vitals Report:

1. Less than 1% of mobile sites received ‘good’ score

The Industry Report applied Performance Scores as an agglomeration of all Core Web Vital scores. And the results are a clear call to action: Only 0.9% of mobile sites achieved a “good” Website Performance score. This indicates a desktop-first bias in website testing – and a clear need to adopt a mobile-centric approach moving forward (see below).

2. Almost 90% of websites struggle with mobile image load speeds

Large and attractive images are the lifeblood for successful ecommerce. So it came as a shocker that Largest Contentful Paint, the metric for loading a site’s most important images, tanked in our analysis: A whopping 87% of analyzed ecommerce domains earned a ‘poor’ LCP score. Ouch! Just Get a Ryte Free account to optimize images at no charge.

3. Nine in ten websites slow to respond to user interaction

When shopping websites ‘freeze’ and respond slowly to user input, other shops get the sale. That’s problematic because interactivity (First Input Delay) was the worst metric for mobile sites, as 91% scored a ‘poor’ rating. Our study also found the culprits: The impact of JavaScript and code from third parties is weighing down response times. Download the full Ryte Industry Study on Web Vitals in the E-Commerce Sector right now.

4. Domains with positive desktop experiences do better on mobile

The study did prove a bias towards desktop website performance. But it’s interesting that brands already offering positive experiences on desktop had a high tendency to perform well on mobile. Our analysis revealed a 0.77-point correlation of Performance Scores between mobile and desktop. Then again, better get the full picture with a specific Web Vitals Report from Ryte.

5. Visual stability is most problematic on mobile

Starting in May 2021, Google will dock search rank for sites that shift appearance too much on mobile. Always keep in mind that mobile devices have much smaller viewports (screens) than desktops, so fluid elements like pop-ups, ads, videos, animations cause more dramatic shifts. So to no surprise, 36% of analyzed websites scored poorly in terms of stability on mobile but only 19% received a poor score on desktop as another wake-up call to take action now.

Want actionable optimization strategies? Download the full report

Speaking of taking action, the need for website optimization goes far beyond the ecommerce industry. Companies across all segments can benefit from getting their mobile experiences in a row before May 2021. For actionable, practice-proven tips on how to make it happen, download the full Ryte Industry Study on Web Vitals in the E-Commerce Sector right now.

Start testing from a mobile-centric perspective

Is your website prepared? Now is the time to get testing. We suggest a mobile-centric approach, keeping in mind that mobile users often browse websites without fast connections (on public transport, away from home wifi, etc.) and visual stability is more fickle on small screens.

As the first step to get ready for May 2021, consider analyzing your website with Ryte's Web Vitals Report.

Ryte users gain +93% clicks after 1 year. Learn how!

Published on Mar 1, 2021 by Kate Aspinwall