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Will your website be affected by the new ‘slow’ Chrome Badge?

Why you should care even more about your site speed

People who have a negative experience on mobile are 62% less likely to make a future purchase — no matter how beautiful or data-driven your marketing campaigns are - Think With Google

 

Google published this quote back in 2017. Three years later, in 2020, it’s a well-known fact that page speed is an important factor for user experience. It’s now part of Google’s algorithm and an official organic ranking factor.

One second difference in the time it takes for a mobile web page to load can impact conversion by up to 20%. Slow websites have an increased bounce rate, lower conversions and ultimately generate less revenue. This impact on performance is also not confined to a single channel - both organic and paid media are affected by slow speed.

When was the last time you checked your mobile speed score on your landing pages in Google Ads?  If the site’s score is below 6, keep reading…

Google’s scarlet badge

The new badging system is designed to “reward” fast loading webpages with clearly identifiable badges. On the other hand, users will be warned about “slow” websites before they even click on the website, which may result in lower CTR and increased bounce rate.

It is likely the badge will also consider factors beyond speed “Our long-term goal is to define badging for high-quality experiences, which may include signals beyond just speed”.

Google has suggested the badges are work in progress but indicated some options for their appearance:

1) A badge in the form of a message presented in the loading screen of a webpage

2) A colour coded loading bar to indicate whether a site’s speed is slow or fast

3)  A context menu which includes typical page speed in SERP listings

Example of possible Google Speed Badge appearance
Example of possible Google Speed Badge appearance
Source: https://blog.chromium.org/2019/11/moving-towards-faster-web.html

The Chrome team explains: “We are being very mindful with our approach to setting the bar for what is considered a good user experience and hope to land on something that is practically achievable by all developers.”

Google hasn’t indicated when the new badge system will be live; however, one thing is clear, speed just became even more important for businesses.

Understanding the potential impact of Google’s upcoming speed badges

 

So, how do you become eligible for Google’s Speed Badge? In order to improve your chances of benefitting from Speed Badges, ensure your page speed is optimal. Utilise tools like Lighthouse, WebPageTest, CrUX and PageSpeedInsights to assess your overall performance score and implement the recommended optimisations to improve page speed.

However, not every website will benefit from this update. If Google has labelled pages as “slow” in Google’s Search Console new speed report, this is a good indicator that your page will get the slow badge. As a result, on-page metrics might suffer - bounce rate is likely to increase if users see “usually loads slow” while they are waiting for the page to load.

How do you avoid being labelled as “slow”?

 

It is important to remember page speed and loading are not a single moment in time – not something one metric can capture. It is a journey!

A good way to start assessing your website and prioritising the type of pages that deserve your immediate attention is Google’s own speed report in Search Console.

According to Google: “The data is based on the Chrome User Experience Report, which provides user experience metrics for how real-world Chrome users experience popular destinations on the web”.

The report also groups pages with similar issues together, so it’s easy to understand which types of pages are better than others. This is also very useful if you want to find issues at scale - per page template or per page feature etc.

Example of Chrome User Experience Report issues grouped by scale
Example of Chrome User Experience Report issues grouped by scale
Image source: Webmasters Central Blog

 

Don’t let the update surprise you

Speed is paramount to user experience and is central to Google’s latest update. Although we are not yet entirely sure how this update will work, details so far indicate that websites with slow speeds are at risk. Ignoring this update could harm your rankings and CTR - so better safe than sorry!

Prepare now and always check your site speed. Afterwards, your efforts will be rewarded with a proper Google Chrome Badge.

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