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Core Web Vitals


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I'm sure someone from Squarespace will tell me that as a platform, Google treats them differently than the rest of the world - or that in fact, SS is 'special'. 

Google not to long ago released Core Web Vitals. They have a good explanation of what this is here: https://web.dev/vitals/ 

Don't be fooled, web.dev is Google, not some third party. 

Guess what, Google doesn't treat Squarespace any different from any other website - whether it uses custom Javascript, PhP, Asp.net or other code vs. a builder CMS like SS, Wix, Weebly. They are all the same in the eyes of Google.

So what does this chart below say about this domain? It says that the pages are slow and not built very well. That's what it says. What's the main issue? The website is as slow as a dog. 24 seconds to be interactive. Google's goal is 3-4 seconds. 

 

The main issue? Way too much CSS, way too much CSS that isn't even used. Way too much JS that isn't even used. 

Oh and a CMS that doesn't automatically compress images or defer loading of those below the fold.  All of which are pretty common.

Any thoughts here?

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Mid June is here. We have tabled developing any new sites on Squarespace until Google Page Experience is addressed.

My thoughts are that Squarespace needs to take this seriously, or else people may jump ship to another web builder. Since we have absolutely no control over these things to optimize performance, this

Think there are improvements that can be made, but I also think allot of this drive to speed at all costs is just Google's way of saving their indexing costs. Consider that on my website the things th

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My thoughts are that Squarespace needs to take this seriously, or else people may jump ship to another web builder. Since we have absolutely no control over these things to optimize performance, this may push people to start looking elsewhere. Hopefully they are planning on addressing this in a new version of Squarespace, such as 7.2 or 8. It's frustrating because for all of the great features within Squarespace, the beautiful templates and user-friendliness of the platform, there are several areas Squarespace ignores or drops the ball. In the years I've been using the platform, as an example, I don't remember any updates to the Form block functionality, even after other platforms such as TypeForm revolutionized web forms. But Core Web Vitals is the type of "con" to weigh so heavily, with no solution for optimizing performance, it may push even the most ardent supporters of Squarespace to look at other platforms. The first competitor to address this could see a lot of new subscribers, so hopefully it's something Squarespace doesn't just ignore, as there is a huge opportunity for them to steal people away from their competitors, rather than lose them.

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Think there are improvements that can be made, but I also think allot of this drive to speed at all costs is just Google's way of saving their indexing costs. Consider that on my website the things that slow down the page most of all are Google Assets, which I have little opportunity to optimise!

We provide digital marketing services for businesses that need exposure/sales from search and social media networks. We also build incredibly fast and well optimised multi-language Square Space websites.
Digital Marketing | Marketing Digitale

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There's a history of carrot and donkey with Google generally sold under the auspices of getting more free traffic if you jump through x hoop. SEO implementations is littered with these carcasses, speed is one they got to stick more. Not saying fast sites are not important, but let's be clear that there are plenty of slow websites running paid-ads.

We provide digital marketing services for businesses that need exposure/sales from search and social media networks. We also build incredibly fast and well optimised multi-language Square Space websites.
Digital Marketing | Marketing Digitale

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Hi guys

I'm panicking because I'm seeing search traffic and impressions drop on my Squarespace site.

I've had healthy growth for literally years with no trouble. Core Web Vitals starts flagging RED for CLS and LCP issues recently and I'm seeing a decline in google search traffic since. 

This has literally translated to a loss of a top spot for a key affiliates post and a loss of income of at least £1000 ($1400) per month (plus whatever leads/conversion I might lose from now onwards). As a small business Organic traffic is my key revenue driver.

There are two main issues being flagged:

Desktop

"CLS issue: more than 0.25 (desktop)" i.e. content moving around after page load this appears to match up with the timeline of the decline in search traffic

Mobile

"CLS issue: more than 0.25 (desktop)": this was flagging until I turned off the announcement bar and now it has been resolved

"LCP issue: longer than 4s (mobile)" Basically a page speed issue

The deafening silence on this issue from Squarespace rings alarms bells. I've seen others comment that they receive 'vague comments' from the support team. I'm now seriously considering moving my website to another platform unless I get some reassurance that this is an issue they can resolve.

Anyone else seeing anything similar or any thoughts on causes/solutions?


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Edited by finidush
Terminology
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  • finidush changed the title to Search Engine Traffic and Impressions Drop (Core Web Vitals)

I'd be surprised if a CORE WEB VITALS value is the sole reason for your traffic loss, but I'm not Google and I know how they do like to get people to jump through hoops.

It seems more probable that either someone has started paying for ads or some other design option on the Google Serps is the likely cause. I'm not sure the extent to which you can verify this. You might also, if you use google analytics look at which type of traffic shifted at the dates above, this can help you isolate whether it's desktop/mobile etc.

There is only so much you can do with SS optimisation, we're now left pretty much with assets we can't optimise - Unused JS bundled into the themes as they form part of a shared codebase, even though they are not used in the live site. Idem for some fonts loaded via CSS.

"Reduce the impact of third-party code Third-party code blocked the main thread for 2,470 ms" - these are all SS assets that cannot be accessed for example.

I have written to SS them to make aware of this and hope that it will get a look in at some point, this is particularly poignant if you are providing some scientific way of saying that the drop is caused by such things, and I would write to them.

For your own specific case I would be grateful if you can post any updates here.

 

We provide digital marketing services for businesses that need exposure/sales from search and social media networks. We also build incredibly fast and well optimised multi-language Square Space websites.
Digital Marketing | Marketing Digitale

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Hi, We've had the same issue on our Squarespace site. Our organic search traffic has dropped dramatically and Google Console is showing a huge jump in pages suddenly listed as 'Needs Improvement' for CLS and LCP issues from 8th March.

 

Does anyone know if there as a Squarespace update which could have caused this? Doesnt look like there was a Google algorithm rollout.

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Although Google is giving us Core Web Vitals stats now, we theoretically have until May 2021 until this starts to affect rankings:

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-core-web-vitals-ranking-signals/387142/

So for now I'd be surprised if you're being penalised for not hitting the CWV targets.

It might be worth considering whether there were any significant changes to your content, backlink profile etc. that could have resulted in a dip in rankings? It could also be that your competitors upped their SEO game recently too. 

Another thing might be the fact that mobile-first indexing is due to be complete this month:
https://www.seroundtable.com/google-mobile-first-indexing-deadline-march-2021-30974.html#:~:text=Google's revised mobile-first indexing,September 2020 to March 2021.

There have also been a few (unconfirmed) Google algorithm updates lately, which may also be affecting things.
Loads of variables to consider!

I do hope Squarespace give us some clarity on the Core Web Vitals issue before May though, as all Squarespace site owners stand to be negatively affected it. Good luck sorting the SEO issues out.

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After sending a panicky message to SS support I received the below message. Finally they have recognised that this is an issue and it is being treated as a priority.

I'm still extremely nervous that CWV is going to tank my business from May onwards. My competitors websites are all performing better than mine so SS need to pull something pretty special out of the bag.

Quote

Thanks for your patience. I'm an administrator here at Squarespace and I'll be working with you on this.

Our engineers are aware of some elements in the Core Web Vitals showing low scores on Squarespace sites. Specifically, it's related to how various Javascript and CSS files are loading -- the timing of them appears to trigger these scores.

I'm looking at a master document of releases that we're planning to address these issues, and we're making active progress as we speak. While I'm not able to give specific details, a couple of areas our team is focused on would be related to reducing the load of common/universal scripts, as well as improvements of dynamic loading, compression and caching. Hopefully this will significantly improve the general site loading and lead to much better CWV scores. 

Please note that we do not comment on an ETA for these fixes (exact or estimate), because solving time tends to vary. We need to investigate all variables and test them before we can confidently release updates. Finally, while this will certainly help scores, it's important to follow our guidelines for fast loading of content.

All of that said, this is being treated as a priority issue.

 

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Hello! Any update from Squarespace on this? It's been about a month. My site is suffering and I am not sure what to do. I've read the documentation but it's a little too technical for me. That's why I use Squarespace. Thank you!

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Page experience has now turned up in Google Search Console and our SQSP site now has this to contend with:

Your site has no URLs with a good page experience

This appears to be a combination of LCP and CLS issues although I am testing whether the announcement bar is causing the CLS issues.
 

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The good news is that Google announced that it is postponing the rollout of the page experience update, specifically the ranking change, from May 2021 to be a gradual rollout that won’t start until mid-June 2021 and won’t be fully rolled out until the end of August.

sf-digital-signature-logo-email145.png.46606a2288a2847f44d81b9b7b58f3a5.png
Hi, I'm Paul, founder of SF Digitalbuilding the features that Squarespace didn't include. Pick dates in any format, show prices in other currencies, take orders without payment or improve your cartI value honesty, integrity, transparency and respect. Links in my posts may refer to SF Digital products or may be affiliate links.  Squarespace. I've been a loyal supporter of the platform since 2007. 

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Yes just found the "Page Experience" section in our Google Search Console, here is what it looks like for us. Things we have no control over we are being penalized for in Google.

Screenshot_2021-04-19 Page Experience report.png

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Publishing three sites with SS now, one is 7.0 and two are 7.1 and knowing about Core Web Vitals since last fall, I was told then that it was an experiment and to pay it no mind and all Squarespace ranks poorly on Google crawlers so I wasn't alone.

Now it is no longer a trial and my sites ALL fall in the red, as in 0-49 level, and my urls are poor, still after working tirelessly adjusting images and shortening urls for almost 8 months now.

 

I think Squarespace Developers can come up with a solution. They usually do, but I want to see them address it and help us with it, outside of forums. This is a concern, even with my 7.1 sites!

So far nothing I have done on the surface of the site from image shrinking to changing url directions, has brought my score up. If anyone has any ideas I'm following!

Edited by primallanguageproductions
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On 3/25/2021 at 6:45 PM, finidush said:

After sending a panicky message to SS support I received the below message. Finally they have recognised that this is an issue and it is being treated as a priority.

I'm still extremely nervous that CWV is going to tank my business from May onwards. My competitors websites are all performing better than mine so SS need to pull something pretty special out of the bag.

 

Thank you for sharing this message. Squarespace is usually on it, so far nothing I've done surface level has worked yet. Fingers crossed the HTML wizards holier than I can figure it out in time!

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You can get a SS website to deliver on all the CoreWebVitals but it needs some really advanced code optimization. We have a 943ms load-time and a cumulative layout shift of 0.05 now, using advanced code injection and pre-connect and preload headers, combined with serving things like Jquery through non-google CDNs has shown that we can tick nearly all the boxes on this latest hoop jumper.

Here's a helper:
https://web.dev/preconnect-and-dns-prefetch/

I am actually pretty sure that SS has been doing some stuff already because there were a lot of Unusued Javascripts that were loading in my theme by default but some of these no longer seem to be loading - still quite  few that are though - at least on homepage. I would not expect SquareSpace to do an announcement on this, because it would be like saying "hi everyone, we've optimised our code delivery and fixed the fact that we were loading a whole lot of unnecessary javascript libraries that our programmers didn't catch" I mean what company would issue that press-release.

Hope that helps.

 

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Edited by GlynMusica

We provide digital marketing services for businesses that need exposure/sales from search and social media networks. We also build incredibly fast and well optimised multi-language Square Space websites.
Digital Marketing | Marketing Digitale

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On 4/21/2021 at 1:41 PM, primallanguageproductions said:

Publishing three sites with SS now, one is 7.0 and two are 7.1 and knowing about Core Web Vitals since last fall, I was told then that it was an experiment and to pay it no mind and all Squarespace ranks poorly on Google crawlers so I wasn't alone.

Now it is no longer a trial and my sites ALL fall in the red, as in 0-49 level, and my urls are poor, still after working tirelessly adjusting images and shortening urls for almost 8 months now.

 

I think Squarespace Developers can come up with a solution. They usually do, but I want to see them address it and help us with it, outside of forums. This is a concern, even with my 7.1 sites!

So far nothing I have done on the surface of the site from image shrinking to changing url directions, has brought my score up. If anyone has any ideas I'm following!

Thanks for the feedback primal, sounds like you've put in the work to try and clean things up to dial in your core web vitals and still getting the same results...good to know.

Here is squarespaces response my google search console question - "First I wanted to start by clarifying that Google Search Console, while it is a great resource to use for your site, is not necessarily optimized for analyzing sites built on a CMS (Content Management System) like Squarespace. It's algorithm for detecting inaccuracies that it thinks is incorrect, doesn't necessarily mean that it's a genuine issue on our platform. They use a set formula to apply to a wide variety of different CMS systems. Alas, they don't have a specific algorithm for detecting Squarespace-specific issues. This shouldn't affect your ranking, as it's more about alerting you of ways to improve your site. They're ultimately providing a blanket diagnosis. I'd also like to note that because Google Search Console is a third party tool, it would also be outside of our scope of support to interpret emails like this from Google Search Console. With that said, we do have a guide here that covers some of the errors and emails that you may see: https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/206543207-Understanding-Google-SEO-emails-and-console-errors"

 

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Hi all. Keeping an eye out on this as well. Most of my clients are WP but I can confirm that the 5 that are on SS are all hitting low scores for CWV especially when it comes to LCP. Hopefully SS will take this seriously. 

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