You see, Lighthouse is nothing more than a collection of algorithms. Just because you get dinged on something doesn't mean it's an actual real-life problem. For example, my professional design site has a hero section on the main page with an animated HTML canvas in the background featuring a Star Wars-like text crawl. Lighthouse gave me a high score in cumulative layout shift for this, even though it has no impact on moving around user-interactive components.
Ok, so what then? What does SEO look like then? Well, allow me to phrase my answer in the simplest terms, terms even I can understand: Google is really, really, really smart! 🤓 Like Stephen Hawking smart. Google's search ranking algorithm is not some arcane black magic only accessible by the village shaman who has committed their soul to eternal damnation in order to master the dark arts of SEO. It's as simple as this: Google's goal is to rank search results quality in a way a human being would. In fact, my sister works for Google training the very algorithm that will one day put her out of work.
This is actually great news, not just for web developers, but for the entire Web. Search users get what they are looking for quicker and developers can focus more on creating relevant, enticing and beautiful content that people actually want to see instead of mastering arcane black magic.
So should you just ignore Lighthouse and not worry about it at all? Well, no, you should a little. I should have titled this article Stop Obsessing Over Your Google Lighthouse Score. You should fix the things you can easily fix, like image optimization, caching policy, etc. However, some of the things in the report, like, for example my animation triggering a high CLS score, may be things that either cannot be easily remedied or are things that would detract from the attractiveness or allure of the site. Always ask yourself, is this actually creating a usability problem?
Don't believe me? Well, I'm not going to get my sister involved here, but check out this Reddit post originally posted in r/SEO about a year ago. The r/user complains about his/her difficulties in trying to increase their Lighthouse score and is answered by an actual Google search advocate, John Mueller.
Here is his response:
Still not convinced? Ok, try this. Do a Google search for some highly competitive search term, like "web developer" or "SEO company." Then scroll down past the ads and Google Places listing and click on the very first organic listing. Now copy the URL from the address bar and paste it into Lighthouse. I did this for several sites and came up with scores ranging from 8 to 85. In fact, I have yet to this day to find a production site in existence with a score anywhere near 100. In fact, some of the sites with slightly lower Lighthouse scores outranked those with higher scores.
So in conclusion, yes, worry about your Google Lighthouse score a little, but don't obsess over it. Fix the identified problems that a.) are actual problems, b.) are practical to fix, and c.) do not feel like a huge sacrifice. Instead, channel all of that focus into creating the best possible content you can. That's what's going to sell and that's what Google cares about.
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