Google: "Fast Websites Getting a Special Label"
A new label for fast websites is coming in May 2021
Starting in May, Google will be rewarding fast-loading websites with a special icon or label in search results. They haven't disclosed details, but SEO experts think it will be a small icon or a text label, like this:
It may not look like much, but it doesn't take much to stand out in Google search results.
This new label will get you more clicks
A label like this will mean more clicks for those 'chosen few' websites. And since Google considers clicks a ranking signal, those websites will also see their rankings improve. And the cycle continues upward. The rich (or better-optimized in this case) get richer. And that's really the point. Google wants faster, more readable, easier-to-use websites in their top results, because that's what we want as users.
You can test your website speed for free
Google provides a free link to test your website speed. A score of 90 or better is likely to earn you the special new label or icon.
We're getting the label.
If you're slow, you'll need to reduce your image sizes
The report contains a lot of jargon, but typically large images are the reason your website is slow. Compressing images is key. If that's not enough, you may need to have your web developer do some deeper optimization. Professionally-built websites should be fast right at launch. Your experience may vary.
You can reduce your image sizes for free
There are lots of free image tools out there, but we've found TinyPNG free image compression to be one of the best. Once you've compressed your website images, you simply replace them on your website. If you're still not getting in the 90 range, you'll need to have your web developer do some deeper optimization for you.
You get the most benefit it you do it soon
This announcement is part of a larger pattern with Google. They decide what makes for the best user experience, then reward compliant websites with higher search rankings. They did it with mobile-friendliness, and with security (https). Now they're doing it with speed.
Typically this happens in two stages:
They start by rewarding websites that are early to follow new guidance. Those websites see more clicks, higher rankings, and reap the benefits the longest.
After about a year, they begin penalizing websites that don't follow their guidelines. Sometimes this includes a visual penalty, such as the 'Not Secure' label on websites without https. The penalties continue as time goes on, they're just hidden in their algorithm. The longer your website is out of step your website with modern standards, the more it is penalized.
First, they're sweet. Then, they're sour. They're sort of the reverse of Sour Patch Kids.
A faster website is a smart business move
Google may be on a mission to make the web faster for users, but that's a good thing. Who doesn't want faster websites or better 'page experience'? And as business owner, of course you want your website to be fast, readable, and easy to use. That means visitors are more likely to engage with you.
Web users can tell when companies have prioritized user experience. Companies that respect a visitor's time will continue win out against sluggish competitors who do not.