Search Engine Land reported today that Google is testing out a red warning label for slow loading websites. The screenshots SEL received were for Google owned websites, but it is likely these “Slow” labels will eventually roll out to all search engine results.
This is very similar to the testing done for the “Mobile-friendly” label that was tested in October 2014, and rolled out in November 2014.
What This Means For You
Google’s success is dependent on returning the best search results possible. That means that user experience is something they must always consider. Sites that are not mobile-friendly and have poor page speed performance are more likely to have users bounce away from those pages. Grading websites on responsive design and site performance are not just good for the search engines, but good for your customers and your business.
While non-mobile-friendly and slow websites still rank high in some search queries today, the Google algorithm has slight alterations rolled out about once a week. A bright red warning label on mobile search results could make users hesitant to click through. Eventually, these results would be downgraded simply due to poor click-through rates. But it signals the fact that the bar for search results is getting higher, not lower.
The top ranking results for search queries in the long-term will favor pages with rich original content, that have the best user experience, that are optimized for where real people search (on mobile devices). Slow loading sites will have to be improved for performance and page speed, or risk getting left behind.