Google Search Ramps Up Penalties for Slow: Sites that load quicker and don’t move elements during loading will rank higher in search results, provided they still have relevance.

Google now considers new measures to assess a site’s usability when ranking sites in search results.

Google Search Ramps Up Penalties for Slow
Image Credit: DON RYAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The experience is familiar to most web users. You select a site from a list and then realize that you made a mistake. It takes several hours for the page to load. The pop-up is displayed in front of the item that you want to read. You click to close the pop-up, but everything suddenly changes and you are redirected to an advertisement.

A new “page experience” update from Alphabet Inc.’s Google that will be introduced to all users by the end of August aims to cut down on frustrating episodes like those.

Google Search will rank websites that are identical in all other ways. The one that launches quicker jiggles less during loading, and allows users to interact with it faster will be ranked higher. These metrics, Google calls core web vitals. They will allow Google to rate a page’s user experience, along with existing Google measures of mobile-friendliness, security, and intrusive elements like pop-ups.

Asaf Shamly is the cofounder and chief executive at Browsi Mobile LLC. This technology company based in Tel Aviv uses artificial intelligence to optimize publisher’s website ad placements. Mr. Shamly stated that he has received so many calls from publishers that this is their top conversation for the month.

It will be dependent on which websites it affects.

Barry Schwartz, chief executive at RustyBrick in New York, stated that the overall impact will be minimal. RustyBrick is a web-service company that specializes in custom online technology to help businesses reduce costs.

Google will consider only a handful of page experience signals when it generates search results. Relevancy will still be the most important factor, Mr. Schwartz stated. He said that even if a page is slow but the most relevant to the search, it will always outrank” pages with better page experiences.

Google stated that page experience is important to search visibility when many sites are similar in terms of relevance.

As the update hits, some website owners are making every effort to improve the page experience.

Organix Brands Ltd. is a UK-based manufacturer of organic baby foods. It invests heavily in search engine optimization to ensure its website stands out online in the booming category of parenting. According to Mona Nikzad (Digital and E-Commerce Marketing Strategist at Organix), 44% of its online shoppers arrive through a search engine.

Ms. Nikzad stated that “Because it is such a competitive market, I wasn’t going to take any risks on this new update” and risk being penalized. Blue Array Ltd. Organix’s search engine optimization company, Blue Array Ltd., made a number of recommendations this year to improve its page experience. These included reducing the size and order of pages that load, as well as changing the order of elements. Ms. Nikzad stated that she accepted all of them.

According to Mr. Shamly (the Browse co-founder), the update could be a wake-up call for publishers. E-commerce sites have always valued user experience. They know that a slow system can result in lost sales. He said that many publishers don’t focus on revenue from advertising and end up having ads appear on their sites, over which they have very little control.

Art Patterson, Broke Backpacker’s business-development manager, stated that the company realized last year that the website’s performance was being severely affected by ad units. These are containers that display advertisements and plug-ins. They add functionality to the website.

The company hired StrategiQ Marketing Ltd., a digital agency, to redesign its site. They were aware that Google was updating their page experience.

StrategiQ made several changes to speed up loading and stop moving elements from pages as they load. The site’s fonts were hosted on its own server rather than being pulled from Google’s font library. Additionally, banner ads were removed from the site.

Patterson stated that The Broke Backpacker will be focusing on revenue from affiliate links and branded content, rather than display advertising.

He said, “We decided that the speed we would achieve would be worth the tradeoff.”

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