Google have this week announced plans to provide users of their web browser, Google Chrome, with a visual indicator of the likely load speed of a website.
“In the future, Chrome may identify sites that typically load fast or slow for users with clear badging” stated Google Chrome in a blog written by three of their senior developers. “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.”
What does this mean for your business’s website?
The speed at which your website opens for users is already a significant factor in how highly it appears and ranks in search engines results.
Google, like all search engines, aims to provide its users with the very best experience and knows that slow websites are frustrating. If Google compares two near-identical websites, it will place the faster loading site higher in search results. This can be an important factor when considering and addressing how your business’s website performs against your competitors.
Website load speed is perhaps of greatest importance when browsing on mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Earlier in 2019, Google completed their move to “mobile-first” indexing when assessing websites and where they should appears in search results. How your website performs on mobile devices is assessed before its desktop equivalent.
This latest announcement, for Google’s Chrome web browser, sees yet more focus put on load speed. Google says the badging will be implementation in “gradual steps” and based on “increasingly stringent criteria”. It is assumed by many that the visual aid will be in the form of a coloured indicator, along the lines of red for slow and green for fast.
As Google Chrome has around a 50% UK market share, half of all visitors to your business’s website could soon be confronted by a speed rating before or once they click.
As well as improving user experience, some also see the change as a way of convincing users that poor performance when surfing the internet is due to slow websites and not Google Chrome itself.
Beginning with their web browser, it appears likely the badging of fast and slow loading websites will eventually be visible within Google Search results too.
For businesses, a slow loading website could soon not only be a barrier to appearing well in Google search results, but a barrier to receiving visitors at all.
How can you speed up your business’s slow loading website?
For many businesses, the change will further highlight their outdated, complex, slow or poorly optimised website and the need for a better web presence.
The first course of action is to assess the performance of your existing website. Fortunately, Google provide a free tool which shows you their analysis of your website’s load speed. Simply search for ‘Google Page Speed Insights’ and input your websites URL. Tellingly, it again defaults to detailing the mobile load speed first and desktop second.
The score (out of 100) is accompanied by a breakdown of factors which are slowing your website down. These can be individually addressed but a low score (particularly for a website built more than a few years ago) is likely an indication that a more serious solution is required.
Overall, there are a number of factors known to slow websites down.
Perhaps the first and most obvious place to look is a slow server. Most business websites are stored and broadcast by a dedicated hosting company on their server. Not all servers are equal and some can suffer from slow performance. Different levels of service are often available, so an upgrade to a faster speed may be required.
Large images are again a common issue. Website designers – and in particular employees who update their business’s website – can often add images which are much larger than required and in an incorrect format. Both can severely slow load speeds. Not only should the number of pixels (resolution) be minimised but the format and quality should also be optimised to reduce file size. Few if any image files should ever be greater that 100K.
Particularly with websites built using WordPress and other CMS (Content Management Systems), excessive plugins can be a big issue. Plugins are used as a convenient way to add functionality and design features. However, they themselves can be poorly coded and slow to load. The number your website uses should be minimised and their effect on load speed evaluated. A fancy website is little use if it does not load before visitors bounce out and abandon it.
Caching ensures frequently used data is stored locally to reduce load times. Caching should be optimised and a CDN (Content Distribution Network) Service can significantly improve load speed by storing a version of your website on servers closer to your visitors, both around the UK and the world.
How do we tackle slow websites at Full Mix Marketing?
As a Google Partner, we can help analyse your existing website’s load speed, identify issues and deliver solutions. As a major search engine ranking factor, a reduction in load speed can result in a better search ranking, higher organic traffic and a subsequent boost to your business and sales.
As SEO experts, we can look at the role load speed is having on where you appear within search results and combat it and other factors to increase your chances of being found online.
If your business’s website needs refreshing, it presents an ideal opportunity to create a website which loads quickly for all users. We can also improve the user experience so the website powerfully showcases what you deliver and turns more visitors into customers.
For help improving your website’s load speed, SEO or design, contact us now for a chat.