Google is testing a “Slow” label in search results – What does it mean?
Google caused quite a stir this week, and perhaps not by design. It appears the tech giant is testing the use of red “slow” labels within search results to alert users of pages with poor performance.
The labels were spotted by a Google+ user who posted a screen shot of his android search results.
Since at least 2010, site speed has been a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. However, the company has been vague with details on the extent to which speed affects actual search results. Most likely, the impact remains small. Googler, Matt Cutts, suggested that only 1% of searches were affected by speed ranking factors.
What does the slow label’s appearance mean?
The appearance of the slow label is reminiscent of Google’s recent incorporation of a “mobile friendly” label with search results. While Google has not announced plans for a wider release, we can assume they are testing waters in a similar way.
A slow label in search results would drastically affect user behavior. People hate to wait: two-thirds of mobile users expect a page to load in less than 4 seconds. By alerting users of poor performance, Google is testing a way to steer users away from a frustrating UX.
It is still too early to understand Google’s true intent, but the wider message is crystal clear. Google is sending a strong signal – focus on the user.
This week’s peek at slow label testing and the recent launch of mobile-friendly make this abundantly clear. Do not wait and react to the next Google update. Instead, bet on user experience enrichment especially on mobile, and stay ahead of the curve.