Google has brought back an experimental "slow to load" warning in mobile search results that could have major implications for websites seeking traffic from mobile devices. This feature is part of the search engine giant's increasing effort to push websites to deliver better results to mobile search users.
According to Search Engine Land, these new labels were initially tested in February. After they were tested, they were pulled from search results, but now they're back, at least in some limited capacity. Slow-loading websites are being marked in search results with small, yellow warning signs that caution mobile users of the slow loading times they may face by choosing to click on that search result. It's worth noting that Google is applying this warning label even to some of its own properties, including YouTube.
Google was coy when explaining the situation to Search Engine Land. When the first wave of warning label testing launched, the company simply said, "We're always experimenting." It seems like Google will continue trying new tweaks to their search algorithms until they find a change they like. This latest wave of testing suggests that the company believes they're getting closer to a permanent, workable solution to slow loading times for websites.
Protecting Your Ranking Through Responsive Design
In most cases, the simplest way to rectify slow load times is to switch your website design to a responsive solution. Responsive designs are built as a scalable solution that can serve desktop computers, tablets and smartphones equally. Instead of having multiple versions of your website to accommodate different screen sizes, responsive designs can expand or shrink to fit those different screen sizes and different navigation systems (i.e., mice and touchpads vs. touch-screen navigation).
By replacing multiple clunky versions of your website with a single responsive design, you can almost guarantee that your website will get faster — remarkably so, in some cases. If websites that are hit with Google's "slow to load" warning switch to a responsive design, this will, in most cases, be enough to get their load speeds to a level at which the warning will be removed.
Responsive designs used to be cost-prohibitive for many companies, but they've become such an essential design solution in today's multidevice world that developers have come up with much more affordable responsive solutions. In other words, cost should no longer be a concern for the vast majority of businesses.
Google's "slow to load" warning feature is likely to become a permanent fixture in some form. As such, businesses that haven't installed a responsive solution should use this opportunity to upgrade their website.