Will Google Start Warning Users About Slow Loading Websites?

Over the last few days, we’ve been keeping an eye on the latest developments from this year’s Chrome Dev Summit 2019. One alarming update particularly stood out to us and to be honest, the fact Google is even suggesting this update, does hint that the below could become a reality very soon!

Google suggested that they will soon experiment with warning messages to alert users when they are visiting a site with a slow loading speed. Google then went one further, the image below is an example of what this could potentially look like:

Generally, these types of warnings are never good news from a usability point of view. Ultimately, this may result in more users leaving websites meaning an overall higher bounce rate or a decreasing CTR from the SERP in the first place!

Google has history when it comes to warning users (and pushing their own agenda when they would like websites to conform to some new rules!) and we have seen this exact move play out before:

  • In 2016, Google begun displaying warning messages within the search results page if a site wasn’t classed as mobile friendly for users:
  • Then Google started to get serious about secure websites. During the tail end of 2017 into early 2018, Google increasingly displayed warnings within Chrome browsers, flagging websites that didn’t have secure content:
  • Today, Google displays the following message when a user visits a non-secure website via web browser. This message will likely push users to quickly leave a site without loading any content.
Unsecure Website Message Google 2019

With the development of these error messages in mind, there is no doubt that Google will begin to flag slow content to users over the coming months.

In terms of this potential update, Google stated:

“Our plan to identify sites that are fast or slow will take place in gradual steps, based on increasingly stringent criteria. Our long-term goal is to define badging for high-quality experiences, which may include signals beyond just speed. 

“We are building out speed badging in close collaboration with other teams exploring labelling the quality of experiences at Google. We believe this will ensure that if you are optimizing your site to be fast, your site will not be inconsistently badged from one surface to another.”.

It’s worth noting that this update follows on from the recent launch of the new page speed report in Google Search Console. Webmasters have been given the power from Google to find slow content, meaning website owners have less room to hide and can no longer shy away from improving their site speed.

All of this suggests that Google may potentially become heavily focused on slow site speed over the coming months. We would recommend paying attention to these warnings and addressing site speed concerns over the coming months before this roll out!

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