Google’s John Mueller tells SEOs that fake Lighthouse does not help sites rank higher in search results.
For business owners, you need to be tired of anyone selling a service that promises to boost your SEO by fooling Lighthouse.
Mueller addressed this on Twitter after a Shopify performance engineer named Colin Bendell raised the issue.
From the sound of it, it is possible that Shopify partners are selling “SEO boosters” that claim to increase ranking by cheating Lighthouse.
In addition to not placing anything higher in search results, the Shopify engineer warns consequences for the sale of such a service.
“It makes me angry when I see devs deliberately selling snake oil to entrepreneurs
Let me be clear: Any Shopify affiliate who sells “SEO boosters” who cheat on the lighthouse and damage the buying experience violates AUP & PPP. It will have consequences
You have been warned “
In an earlier tweet, he shows an example of how developers are trying to trick Google with fake Lighthouse scores.
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There’s a special place in hell for people who add UA check for ‘Chrome-Lighthouse’ and then use document.write ()
This does not cheat SEO ranking. It only hurts your business. pic.twitter.com/iFFfTsnar2
– Colin Bendell (@colinbendell) August 4, 2021
This code encourages the site to recognize when Lighthouse runs a test on it.
If ‘userAgent’ detects ‘Chrome-Lighthouse’, ‘document.write ()’ will be triggered. This wipes the page that has just been loaded and starts writing something new.
As a result, Lighthouse does not get an accurate reading of the site’s score, which is thought to have a positive impact on SEO. Probably because it hides bad scores.
I contacted Mr. Bendell for further insight into why the use of ‘document.write ()’ is a bad practice. He tells me:
… the use of document.write () obscures its contents and is a common way to inject dishonest code.
The problem is that the if condition (if window.navigator.userAgent! == Lighthouse) pretty much omits all scripts and css and other clutter. That makes the site really fast for lighthouses. ”
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While Lighthouse may think it’s testing a super fast site, Google will not be affected. Here’s what Mueller has to say about this tactic.
Google’s John Mueller on fake lighthouses
Whether genuine or manufactured, Lighthouse scores are not used by Google to rank web pages.
In fact, user-agent disguise can lead to a negative impact on SEO because it prevents you from finding the real problems on your site.
“Lighthouse results do not affect Google Search.
Doing this kind of user-agent disguise is a terrible idea-you are just deceiving yourself. It makes absolutely no sense and prevents you from finding real problems. If you come across a plugin that does this, report it to CMS. ”
Lighthouse is intended to be used as a developer tool. The scores it generates are based on laboratory data, so it has no bearing on search.
When looking at ranking factors such as Page speed and key web vitals, Google evaluates them using field data.
Field data is collected from real users, as opposed to laboratory data produced via a controlled test.
Google prefers to use field data because it is a more accurate reflection of the user experience.
Lighthouses are not relevant to Google, but they can help identify and correct SEO issues.
However, this is only true if the site can be properly tested, which is not possible with user agent disguise in place.
Tricker Lighthouse leads to worse SEO
Shopify’s Bendell adds that this technique can load pages quickly into the Lighthouse, but actual visitors will experience poorer performance:
“… the pieces of code I shared in the tweet make things faster for the lighthouse, but ironically make things slower for real people. And since SEO is based on true human performance (using CrUX data), the irony is that the so-called speed up slows down the human experience and thus reduces your SEO. ”
Google warned developers against using document.write () back in 2016, explaining the negative impact it has on site performance:
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“… scripts dynamically injected via document.write () can delay the display of the main page content for tens of thousands of seconds or cause pages to either not load or take so long that the user just gives up.”
The main takeaway here is not to try to fool the Lighthouse and not be taken by someone trying to sell this to you as a service.
Featured image: Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock