Google Lighthouse Study: SEO Ranking Factors in eCommerce vs “News”

Our R&D team of experts carried out a Big Data analysis of the online market in the United Kingdom. We’ve found results for the 10000 user’s intended phrases from eCommerce “Electronics” stores and “News” websites (5000 each) and compared the data from each domain in terms of Lighthouse factors.

Our hypothesis

We put forward a hypothesis that results may differ from each other depending on the user’s intentions in SERPs. We assumed that users interested in buying an electronic device like a computer, tend to focus on other factors than consumers of online News. It may indicate that domains optimize for the different ranking factors, depending on the industry. We’ve also distinguished the best performing domains within the chosen categories. Websites with the highest occurrence among TOP3 for “Electronics” queries are Amazon, Dell, HP, Samsung, Bestbuy. TOP3 domains for “News” are as follows: Wikipedia, Independent, Express, BBC, Thesun.

Our key findings

Taking a look at the results, we could expect some of them. Below we present the most interesting conclusions:

  1. Let’s look at the Time to First Byte that indicates the responsiveness of a web server or other network resource. Our research confirmed that higher positions in SERPs have the lower perimeter of TTFB in both categories, for desktop and mobile results.
  2. First Meaningful Paint is the time that takes for a page’s primary content to appear on the screen. While the FMP desktop results are quite similar, mobile results differ from each other between our chosen categories. Our analysis shows that content appears faster on the “News” domains than on the “Electronics” domains. Results support our assumptions that gossip domains focus on the fast loading of the content so that users can get quick access and consume the information.
  3. Time to Interactive determines how long it takes for a website to be fully interactive. This ranking factor appears to be more important for “Electronics” domains, as users search for clickable links to products they would like to buy.
  4. DOM Size: The Document Object Model represents the page so that programs can change the document structure, style, and content. Officially Google recommends keeping the DOM Size perimeter rather low for better positioning. However, it appears quite differently in the case of Electronics domains, as the “rich content” seems to play a critical role in Google Rank. Therefore, decreasing the number of DOM size elements, at the expense of the scope and order of the content doesn’t seem like a good optimization idea.

Report details

Our R&D department analyzed a set of 10000 potential customer intent phrases from ​​the “Electronics” (eCommerce) and “News” domains. Using our unique White Dog technology, we scraped data from the Google ranking in a specific location (London, United Kingdom) both for mobile and desktop results.

Based on those data, we distinguished TOP3 results that appeared in SERPs. Then each page was audited by the Google Lighthouse tool. Google Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. Results were further analyzed and presented in charts. It is noteworthy that generating a single report may take about 30s, and it wouldn’t be time-efficient to produce it one by one. For this reason, we designed scalable infrastructure that allowed us to run a few hundred lighthouse instances simultaneously in controlled conditions.

Leading domains among “Electronics”

Leading domains among “News”

Lighthouse ranking factors

Below we present the main factors that we analyzed:

Time to first byte (TTFB)

The chart shows the comparison of the TTFB results for “Electronics” and “News” domains categorized in SERPs, on desktop and mobile. Regardless of the device, the TTFB score is the lowest for websites that occurred in TOP3 positions. The difference is significant, especially between TOP3 and 4-6 results.

First Meaningful Paint

The mobile FMP results are overall lower for “News” than for “Electronics” domains, and the difference equals 400 [ms] on the TOP3 positions. In the case of desktop results, there is no significant difference between the two chosen categories of websites.

Time to Interactive

The difference between those two categories is significant, especially in the case of TOP3 positions on the desktop. “Electronics” online stores are fully interactive nearly 200 [ms] faster than “News” websites.

DOM Size

The DOM Size results line for the “News” is almost flat, but in the case of online stores, there is a downward trend – the further position in SERPs, the lower DOM Size score.

Here is something for you

Would you like to see where are you and your competitors in SERPs? Do you want to learn more about the crucial ranking factors for your industry? Contact us directly, and we may generate a FREE landing page report dedicated to your website.


The effects of Big Data Analysis may confirm that particular ranking factors of websites differ depending on the user’s intent phrases in search. It is also worth to observe the industry benchmarks in SERPs and optimize your website for key ranking factors in Google.