Website Speed for SEO Rankings

Back in 2010 Google announced site speed was going to be a new signal in its ranking algorithm. At the time they also said it would not carry as much weight as the relevance of the page and that it would affect fewer than 1% of sites.

In 2013 the announcement was made that site speed would be added as a ranking factor for mobile sites.

Today, it seems things are about to become more serious for mobile sites and their site speed.

Slow Label for Mobile Websites

While this seems very much to be in testing phase, Google has been seen to have very obvious red “Slow” labels added to search results. At this stage the testing also seems to be for Android users only. The image below is from K Neeraj Kayastha Google Plus page, and many in the comments have said they have been unable to replicate the results thus far, so the testing may have been brief.

Why is Site Speed Important for Mobile?

As a mobile user, many people don’t have the patience to wait for a site to download, and seeing these results will make them consider if they want to click the link, or head to another site that isn’t tagged as slow. If your site is labelled slow, there is a chance you will lose customers, branding awareness or market share.

There have been studies done on how people react to slow websites with the results being labelled as “Mobile Rage” (similar to road rage). For some users it has a real level of frustration, with 38% of people reacting negatively to slow loading mobile pages.

  • 62% behave more or less normally
  • 23% swear at their phone
  • 11% scream at their phone
  • 4% throw their phone

Google, wanting to be the best at supplying their users with great search results, want to help them find what they are looking for, as quickly and painlessly as possible.

So site speed matters.

How Does Site Speed Affect Site Interaction

Google analytics measure all the ways people interact with a website, from how quickly it loaded for them, to how much time they spent on the site, whether they come back and how many items they have interacted with the site.

Research from Google has shown that from their internal testing, along with information they would have gathered in Analytics, that in the simplest of terms… “when a site loads slowly visitors spend less time there.”

When is The Slow Label Going Live?

At this stage, the information about the label is scarce, and the only real result is from the one Google Plus page, however, Google Webmasters announced a 4 part series on making great mobile sites today. With part one covering using the tools for Pagespeed Insights. While this doesn’t mean they are rolling out the new label anytime soon, it seems they are proactively guiding website owners to the methods to review their own sites and make them faster. Similar to the introduction of the Mobile Friendly label in late 2014.

Have you seen the label yourself? Let us know your thoughts below.