Google Chrome is consistently vocal about what they feel should factor into website rankings. Things like AMP and mobile readiness are suggested as structural ways to solidify your placement in search engine results. It's no secret Google Chrome, based on statements over the last few years, is leaning in on speed as a factor also.
In 2017 Google said it was going to penalize sites without security certificates. Then in 2018 Google announced that it would be taking mobile page speed into account when ranking sites. Now, in 2019, Google Chrome pushing forward with plans to display badges indicating your website speed in the browser. From the announcement:
"In the future, Chrome may identify sites that typically load fast or slow for users with clear badging. 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.
Badging is intended to identify when sites are authored in a way that makes them slow generally, looking at historical load latencies. Further along, we may expand this to include identifying when a page is likely to be slow for a user based on their device and network conditions. "
What does the website speed display indicator look like?
Google Chrome states that this change will be gradual. Elsewhere in that statement, they mention this badging experiment may extend to factors other than speed in the future. Indicating that Google will continue the trend of injecting its opinions into search results.
What should you do?
This is basically your last wake up call. It's time to pay attention to your website speed if you have not done so already. Start with the Google Chrome Speed Test tool, or something similar. We have an overview of how we approach website speed if you need guideposts. Google Chrome is actively working on its plans to display your website speed, so you can't afford to ignore this any longer.
Something to note is that Google's PageSpeed Insight test results are not necessarily the best indicator of how Google will see your website. The deciding factor in the badge determination will be Google's tool, Lighthouse. Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. It takes into account many factors, including historical data to generate search engine results.
There is no denying the fact that Google will continue to have a strong voice in how the web progresses. Speed is a core principle for Chrome and will continue to be.
While it may feel as if we are all subject to Chrome's decisions it is helpful to have a team dedicated to the advancement and quality of websites. The adoption of broad standards is important to maintain the quality of the web at large. In the meantime, let's work on your website's speed!