Google to Label Slow Loading Sites

John Lister's picture

Google is experimenting with ways to inform Chrome users when a web site likely to be slow to load. In doing so, it wants to penalize poorly coded sites - though critics say that's not always the main reason for a delay.

The idea is a form of "badging" that will appear in the browser. It's a sign of how potentially controversial the subject is that Google is thinking of informing users in this way rather than simply downgrading such sites so they appear lower in search rankings.

The initial tests will be based around the general point of whether a site is slow to load. Later on, Google may look at customizing the results based on the user's device and Internet connection.

Indications Unclear

Google is also going to try out different ways to highlight slow sites.

In some cases the notice won't appear until the site is actually loading. That could involve a warning triangle and a message to say the site is usually slow to load, while in others the progress bar at the top of the page will be in a specific color based on the speed. (Source:

Another option is to restrict the warning to the context menu that appears when a user right-clicks on a link or page. That would limit the visibility of the warnings and make it more of a tool for more technically dedicated users.

According to Google, the idea is that if a site is coded in a way that avoid unnecessary delay, it shouldn't ever be labeled as slow.

Causes Of Slow Sites Vary

The fact Google is having to try out so many different methods and approaches is a sign of how complex the issue of site loading time is, particularly when it comes to mobile data connections where such variations stand out more.

It's certainly true that websites can be coded in efficient or inefficient ways that affect loading time, for example by controlling the order in which particular components of the page appear. However, with many slow loading pages, the problem is delays in retrieving external code such as ads or embedded videos. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you find slow loading web pages a particular problem? Would you appreciate warnings that a page was slow to load before you tried to visit? Should load time affect how prominently a site appears in search rankings?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I really don't think this is necessary. If anything, Google should email the webmaster directly, or notify via Google's Webmaster Tools that the page is slow to load.

I don't think warning the user is going to make things any better, because ultimately it's the webmaster's problem. Also, the user has little choice in the matter, other than to visit another website to get the same information. Adding extra items in the web address bar is just going to confuse people - similar to how padlocks previously worked.

That said, penalizing the web page in search engine rankings should be the ultimate form of punishment for slow loading pages. If the page is slow then it won't rank and it won't get traffic. That alone should be enough to get webmasters to fix their sites.