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80% of ANZ’s biggest digital retailers don’t pass Google’s customer experience assessment
Mon, 22nd Aug 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Massive brands like Countdown and Coles are falling short of Google's core standards for digital experience.

It's not easy to say what makes a “good” digital experience. After all, your definition of quality depends on who you are and what you're trying to achieve. But if you're focused on revenue, you need to put serious emphasis on how fast and useful a page feels to the customer at the other end.

In 2021, Google started to measure exactly that, launching three criteria to determine if a website is fast, stable, and responsive enough to give visitors a good digital experience. (The criteria are called Core Web Vitals, and if you want to get into the technical definitions, you can read all about them in the top section of this guide). These help determine your site's search ranking and have a powerful influence on customer behaviour, impacting retention and revenue. So it may come as a bit of a shock that many of the region's biggest eCommerce sites —  including huge brands like Kogan, The Warehouse and Cole's — aren't meeting Google's thresholds.

This isn't specific to New Zealand and Australia. Globally, only about 38% of the biggest eCommerce sites are passing all 3 Core Web Vitals. As these results show, passing these standards is extremely challenging for even the world's most successful businesses. But they're also critically important as user expectations rise and attention spans get shorter.

How important is it really?

Scoring highly on customer experience pays off in two distinct ways. Firstly, Google factors these scores into your organic search ranking, so performing well helps you show up early and often in search engine results.

But this also gives businesses a clear pathway for delivering a fast-feeling, performant site that attracts and delights customers. Meeting the standards extends user sessions, reduces bounce rates, and increases conversions.

If you ignore these scores, you're effectively leaving money on the table — and your competitors are all too happy to scoop it up.

The good news is that there's a range of good habits that your development team can pick up to minimise lags and interruptions.

How do I take action?

The first thing you need to do is work out where you're starting from. After all, your scores might already be pretty good! You can use PageSpeed Insights, a free tool from Google, to instantly see the performance of your key pages at an individual URL level or your entire site at origin level. This will also give you a list of “opportunities” which your developers can work through to optimise your scores. Some of these are pretty technical and require a bit of effort and expertise, but some are as easy as changing the file format of your images. Even just grabbing those low-hanging fruit can make a difference.

From there, you'll need other tools to diagnose, optimise, test, and monitor your customer experience on an ongoing basis. Google recommends a workflow that uses PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, and a Real User Monitoring (RUM) tool.

If you're ready to improve your customer experience, search ranking, and revenue, you're probably looking for a bit more guidance and context. To get a complete overview of the technical background, the potential business benefits, and the practical implementation of these scores, the team at Raygun has put together a comprehensive guide to Core Web Vitals for business leaders, which you can download for free.