Google is planning to add a new feature to its search results by indicating to users whether a page is fast or slow-loading by way of what they’re calling a “badge”. This is intended not to punish slow-loading websites, but, according to Google, to reward fast loading ones. 

How It Will Look

For a change that’s intended to reward faster sites, the warning for slow sites definitely seems more prominent and noticeable than the green bar that indicates faster loading sites.

Here’s what Google had to say about the “reward”:

“We think the web can do better and want to help users understand when a site may load slowly, while rewarding sites delivering fast experiences.”

Here’s how the warning will look for slow loading sites:

Here’s how the indicator will look when a website is considered fast-loading:

It is a little unclear at the moment though exactly when this warning will appear. Google describes it as appearing as part of a “contextual menu” that warns users ahead of clicking on a result, but the image examples we’ve seen so far all look like warnings on a splash screen (AKA loading screen) for a web page that has presumably already been clicked on.

If the warning does indeed only appear once a user has clicked on the result, this change is more likely to impact your abandonment rate than your clickthrough rate, which it would impact if the warning appeared before a user clicked through. 

Other Changes Planned For The Future

Google isn’t going to stop short at just warning users about slow loading pages. Their intention is to give users the best possible web browsing experience, and to that end, they plan to give users more information by way of badges in the future. On this point, Google stated:

“This may take a number of forms and we plan to experiment with different options, to determine which provides the most value to our users.”

“Our long-term goal is to define badging for high-quality experiences, which may include signals beyond just speed.”

Why Does It Matter?

We always knew that pagespeed was important, not just for the sake of good user experience, but also as a ranking factor. With this planned change from Google, we’ve now learned that pagespeed is likely to impact more metrics of your website and to a larger degree – namely your abandonment rates and clickthrough rates.

You can learn more directly from the horse’s mouth over on the Google Chrome Blog here.

Honourable Mention For This Edition Of The 1 Thing:

As always, we’ll shine a light on the silver medalist in our fortnightly 1 Thing discussion.

This time around the honourable mention goes to news of a new SERP feature that truncates (shortening by way of adding an ellipses) websites’ title tag in favour of mentioning the location of the business. See an example of this new feature below:

In tests, it appears that the addition of the location appears whether or not a user includes that location in their search query, and Google seems to pull that location from on-page content.

While it may seem like Google is trimming off important information from your carefully crafted title tags, it could actually have a positive impact on your clickthrough rates. It’s definitely a change to keep a close eye on as it rolls out globally.

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