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Google to Punish Slow-Loading Websites

02 December 2019 by Chris Behier


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Last Monday Google announced a performance badge scheme to alert users of slow loading websites ahead of their “clicking to link”. This means if you are a shopkeeper, you could get penalized before your advertisement allows users to link back to your website. 

Algorithm to evaluate your website performance

The data that will be used to evaluate your website will be based on historical load latencies at first. Beyond that baseline, Google will move to factor in the user’s device and the network conditions (time of day, type of connection, etc.) to render a more accurate estimation.

 

Google’s approach to performance badges

With the intent to become increasingly more stringent, the Chrome team is collaborating with other Google teams to establish badges that rate the quality of the website’s load times, which equates to the end-user experience.

 

Assessing your exposure to this new scheme

Web Developers have the likes of Pingdom which has a speed test that also breaks down every item loaded to a browser. Given the time-to-load is broken down, the Shopkeeper can then engage a conversation with the Web Developer on the various items that take long to load and see if there is an opportunity to reduce the time-to-load for the home page to be performed to expectations.

 

This is nothing new in eCommerce – page-load has always been a critical component of reducing your bounce rate. But now, it puts even more pressure to ensure that your rating is top-notch.

To test your Website Speed: https://tools.pingdom.com/

In addition, checking your errors on your page, which affects your page load is also just as important. WC3 errors can slow your page load due to the browser having to deal with the errors being processed to render the page.

To Test your Website Errors: https://validator.w3.org/

 

The Shame Game is not new

While some organizations think this approach is novel to push the developers to a cleaner code base, using the latest tools available to them, this scheme is not new. Businesses are rated continually based on their performance in various departments – Service, Products, Logistics and even their websites (look/feel/navigation/theme/etc). This is already captured in TrustPilot or similar.

 

Like most Review based information, it can be swayed or the algorithm can be gamed by tools developed to influence the end-user. This means that the Google Badge system could be vulnerable to be influenced beyond its static measure of performance by creating a bigger baseline of history in loading a blank page. We will see how well the rollout of this new Badge system is protected from such activities, and how “fair” it will be to shopkeepers, developers, and overall Web-communities.

 

Why do Google Badges?

Google as a browser needs to continue to grow and boost its adoption, its use of the search tools, and thus needs a competitive edge to market and drive further its advertising/campaign marketing for additional revenue growth.

 

Conclusion

While this sounds like another gimmick, it has serious implications to your eCommerce site, its ability to drive clients to it, and marketing effectiveness. Getting ahead of this new scheme is the best way forward. Check your website, make sure it is optimized, and create a solid fast baseline. That should get you into a good place when the scheme is introduced.


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