Ranking Factors 2019
Overview of the study results
Searchmetrics‘ analysis of Google Lighthouse Ranking Factors reveals the standard of technical optimization of the top-ranking websites on Google. The report shows that there are clear correlations between factors like faster load times or use of modern web technologies and better ranking positions in the Google search results. Besides presenting the most relevant findings, drawing on the results of over 15 million Google Lighthouse audits, the study also provides a preview of more targeted Lighthouse reports that can be used to guide the technical optimization of websites in specific industries.
Why is technical website optimization so important?
The open-source tool Google Lighthouse can be used to analyze the technical optimization of websites, in particular regarding their performance on mobile devices. This is of great importance because today more website traffic comes from mobile users than from desktops. Furthermore, there is evidence that users are more likely to bounce from slower mobile sites. Adding one additional second to a page’s mobile load time can cause conversions to drop by 20%. This underlines the importance of technical optimization of a website’s mobile version, which can help improve the user experience offered, to overtake competitors in the Google rankings and to increase traffic, conversions and turnover.
What has been analyzed for this study?
10,000 keywords, 200,000 URLs: This wide-reaching analysis, conducted by Searchmetrics, investigates the technical optimization of websites found near the top of Google’s search engine rankings. Of the 79 audits run on each URL, the most interesting factors have been chosen for presentation in this paper. The results show that:
- landing pages that rank in the top 10 of the Google search results load more quickly than those on lower positions.
- landing pages that rank in the top 10 of the Google search results make more frequent use of modern web technologies than URLs on the second search results page.
As a first impression of the data presented in the paper, the results of two important Google Lighthouse audits are provided here: First Meaningful Paint and Uses HTTP/2.
First Meaningful Paint
This Lighthouse audit measures how quickly a page’s main content is loaded and becomes visible for the user. Landing pages that rank in the top 10 of the Google search results display the first meaningful paint more quickly than those that rank lower down. There is a clear correlation between the audit result and ranking position, with the average time on the first page of search results a tenth of a second faster than the average time for URLs ranking on page 2.
With HTTP/2, the URL’s resources can be served more quickly and with less data being transferred than with the older HTTP version. This is possible, as the latest version enables the simultaneous transfer of more data via the same connection. The Lighthouse analysis shows a correlation between ranking position and the implementation of HTTP/2, as websites at the top of the Google search results make more frequent use of the modern protocol. The higher the pass rate, the higher the proportion of URLs ranking on that position that make use of HTTP/2.
Lighthouse Ranking Factors
The data, charts and expert analysis resulting from over 15 million Google Lighthouse audits provide an overview of the current state of technical optimization of websites ranking on Google. You can download the full Lighthouse Ranking Factors report here: