During the English SEO office hours of August 6th, 2021, which was a Q&A-style webinar that Google frequently conducts with webmasters, Google’s John Mueller read a question someone had submitted.
Basically, the question (which Mueller read at around the 30-minute mark), mentioned that the submitter had seen an uplift (a rankings improvement) in June (presumably due to the June update), but not in July (again, presumably during the July update). The submitter then asked if this could be due to speed.
From my understanding of how the question was worded (and Mueller’s words would seem to agree), I think the person who submitted this question expected that because they had seen a rankings improvement in June, they’d most likely see one in July.
Part of Mueller’s response was: “As far as I know, these were essentially separate and unique updates that we did. So, we call them both core updates because they affect the core of our ranking systems, but that doesn’t mean they affect the same core parts of the ranking system.”
A bit confusing?
I’ll try to show you the various similarities and differences between the two “core” updates.
But let me first state this, which is something Mueller went on to say: just because you saw changes due to one core update doesn’t mean you see the same changes due to the other core update.
That was basically the reason why the question was submitted, and if you consider that there are differences between the 2 core updates, it makes sense that if they’re each looking for slightly different metrics, a site can be scored differently by each update.
Also, the fact that Google Search Console has both a Core Web Vitals report and a Page Experience report is telling enough that the two updates, while they may share some similarities, are different enough to merit their own reports.
How Core Web Vitals Is Different From Page Experience
If I could put it poetically, I’d say that Core Web Vitals has to do with the scientific, objective experience, whereas Page Experience has more to do with the artistic, subjective experience.
In fact, contrast the definitions of the reports of these 2, each taken from their respective Search Console Help page (bolding added for emphasis):
“The Core Web Vitals report shows how your pages perform, based on real world usage data…”
“The Page Experience report provides a summary of the user experience of visitors to your site.”
So, we can say that the Core Web Vitals has to do with the behind-the-scenes, unseen mechanics, whereas Page Experience has more to do with what the user actually sees and experiences.
That said, Core Web Vitals is one of the criteria used in the evaluation of the Page Experience of a URL (or web page), so that’s where the 2 may overlap. I can see how, with that overlap, there may have been confusion (plus…it didn’t help that the 2 can be called core updates).
So, in summary, the 2 more recent “core” updates have their differences. Core Web Vitals has more to do with the technical performance of a page, whereas Page Experience has more to do with the end-user experience of a page.