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What’s The Deal With Google’s New web.dev Tool?

There’s a new Google tool on the block. At the beginning of November 2018, Google launched web.dev, an “actionable guidance and analysis” tool.

This new tool is still in beta, but its current features include providing site audits and “structured curriculums,” or online guides, on topics like site security and faster loading times.

If you’re unfamiliar with Google’s new web.dev tool or if you haven’t explored it that much yet, read on to discover what it does—and what its limitations are right now.


The curriculums

In its current form, web.dev is both an evaluation tool and a resource hub. Google put together a variety of structured curriculums to help webmasters, marketers, developers, and more (essentially anyone who helps manage a website!) improve their sites.

There are currently six curriculums on the site:

• Fast load times: To help site speed
• Network resilience: To bolster reliable site performance
• Safe and secure: To ensure users’ data is secure
• Easily discoverable: To help sites be as indexable and crawlable as possible
• Installable: To be easily used by audiences without the need of an app store
• Accessible to all: To ensure a site works with screen reader support and other accessibility features

Each curriculum includes multiple articles that explain the importance of the topic and walk through the basics of how to set up different features.

While these curriculums are beyond the “beginner” level of understanding topics like security and accessibility, they don’t get into the weeds of each section. They serve as good jumping-off points—and they pair well with the web.dev site audit.


The web.dev site audit

In the web.dev site audit feature, you simply enter a URL and receive an audit. At the top, you’ll see scores on a scale from 0-100 in four areas:

• Performance
• Accessibility
• Best Practices
• SEO

The below screenshot illustrates how the audit looks for Search Engine Journal.

search-engine-journal-score

While the design is sleek and easily digestible, the current iteration of web.dev’s audit is pretty bare-bones.

Unlike other tools, you can’t hover over the different areas and see a brief description of what exactly a perfect score in Best Practices means.

However, the audit does provide a list of items to fix or optimize, along with notes on the impact of each change. See below.

impact-search-engine-journal

This is a handy list that prioritizes items with the highest impact on your site. Of course, most of these items are technical and often require the help of a developer to implement.

You can download a full report of your site audit, which includes scores, more metrics, and a complete list of items to fix.


The issues with the SEO score

If you’ve tested the web.dev tool and noticed that a lot of sites you’ve entered have a perfect score in SEO, you’re not the only one.

While the thrill of acing this section is wonderful, just because you get 100 doesn’t mean that your site is at the top of the SERP.

To get to the bottom of this, you should look at the “Discoverability” page. It explains that Google sees SEO as “how well search engines can surface your content.”

The score is determined by performance in the following areas:

• Descriptive titles, descriptions, and link text
• A clear roadmap of which pages Google should crawl
• Removing any code that causes indexation issues
• Fixing HTTP status codes
• Ensuring pages that don’t rely on plugins
• Fixing robots.txt errors
• Mobile-friendliness, like readable font and a valid viewport meta tag

As Search Engine Journal points out, these areas cover indexability and crawlability—but not anything about rankings or traffic.

For web.dev, a high SEO score is more about solid site health and ensuring a site can be easily crawled and indexed.

In typical Google fashion, they don’t provide any transparent insights into rank. Instead, a site could get a 100 SEO score in the web.dev audit and have low rankings in the SERP.

According to Search Engine Journal, “it may be more accurate if the score were rebranded as an Indexability or Discoverability Score.”

Keep this in mind as you play around with the tool.


So what is web.dev good for?

It’s a simple, quick analysis for your site—but it doesn’t provide a full picture of your site’s performance.

For that, you’ll still need to dive into Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and any other tool you rely on for deeper research.

Also, remember that it’s still in beta and Google’s working on improvements.

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