Google Experimenting With “Slow Website” Labels

March 3rd, 2015 in Web Development 2 minute read

A couple of months ago we talked about how Google announced plans to introduce a new “mobile friendly” tag that would appear in search results for websites that are considered to be correctly optimised for mobile browsing; a feature that is now officially out in the wild. It seems Google are continuing to develop similar ideas, as just last week it was spotted that they are also experimenting with the idea of introducing a (fairly hard to miss) “slow” label, designed to warn users about extremely slow loading sites.

Google Experimenting with “slow” labels (via Google+)

At this time there is very little information surrounding what is considered a slow website in the results, or whether there are any plans to roll this out to all users, but it does show that Google are really pushing forward with new ways to provide you with a wider variety of information about the best search results, and not just from a content perspective.

Google are clearly putting a lot of importance on site speed when it comes to search engine optimisation, and while historically mobile performance hasn’t always been something that is prioritised, the introduction of unmissable labels such as these within SERPS will likely change this drastically.

The Power of One Single Word

Take another look at that label – it’s incredibly difficult to ignore, and carries an extremely powerful message. I for one would certainly be more reluctant to visit a site labelled so boldy as slow, especially when browsing on the move. Just as I am annoyed when attempting to view content on a non-responsive site, waiting endlessly for a website to load is equally as frustrating.

This does raise many questions though – who defines what is considered as slow? With so many factors in play, it’s a difficult metric to define. Is any website that fails to load within a couple of seconds considered slow? It’s highly unlikely Google would be completely upfront and transparent about such a figure. If the slow label is ever rolled out properly, it’s likely the PageSpeed and Mobile Friendly tools would help provide insight – as these are tools already being pushed by Google to help developers optimise sites.

Speeding Up Your Site

It’s always a good idea to be mindful of how your site is performing, especially for your mobile users. There are plenty of tools available to help you quickly identify potential problems, along with simple suggestions for fixing them – the PageSpeed tool available from Google is a good place to start. You could also consider taking a closer look at your hosting setup, quite often cheaper or poorly configured hosting can lead to slower loading times.

That said, it’s important to note this is a feature that is still in testing, but it’s a nice reminder that ensures user experience comes first, and that simply having rich content is not always enough – it’s equally as important to provide a browsing experience that isn’t frustrating for the user.

Have you spotted the slow label during your browsing experience? Why not tweet at us and let us know your thoughts? Or, if you’re concerned about the performance of your own website, get in touch; we’re always happy to lend a helping hand.

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