How Google’s “Fast Page” Label Will Impact Site’s User Experience
Back in 2019, the Google Chrome team released a post titled “Moving towards a faster web” to give users an experience as fast as possible while browsing the web.
According to the report, the team said: “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.”
This indication on websites was called the “fast page” label—and it indicates when a website is fast and meets the standard requirement.
And for slow websites, there’s a pop-up message on the user’s screen while the website loads.
Indicators like these are suitable for some websites and bad for others. For example, without indicators, the probability of a website’s bounce rate increases by 32% as it goes from 1 second to 3 seconds. If it extends to 10 seconds, the bounce rate probability soars to 123%.
So, what’s the impact of the fast page label on websites that don’t have it? Here, we’ll discuss what you need to know about the fast page label and how you can prepare your website for it when it’s released.
What Is Google’s “Fast Page” Label?
Fast Page is Google’s label indicating websites that meet its standard as a fast website. In this case, a website is considered fast by Google if it loads content to users in under 3 seconds.
In addition, Google’s definition of providing “good user experience” is covered within the metrics of the Core Web Vitals, which include:
Overview of The Core Web Vitals
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This measures the time it takes the largest content block or content element to become visible in the user’s viewport.
Unless the LCP loads, there’s no way your visitors will see anything when they visit. This is because LCP is always above the fold, i.e., the content users see without scrolling.
Your LCP is “good” if it loads in 2.5 seconds or less.
First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with a website (i.e., tap a button, or click a link) to the time the browser can respond to that interaction.
FID simply measures how fast the website responds to users' interaction once they land on a website.
A good FID score is 100 milliseconds or lower.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS measures how visually stable a website is during the initial page load event. The calculation of the CLS is based on how many unexpected and unintended layout shifts occur on a web page without the user’s interaction.
In a more practical sense, CLS is used to measure how much a web page moves before user interaction and how often that happens.
A good CLS score is 100ms / 0.1 seconds or lower.
As a result of these three core metrics, Google can gather accurate reports on how websites perform based on real-world usage data (field data).
Relating these metrics and other factors comprises “page experience,” per Google.
With these other search signals in place, the “fast page” label is Google’s way of giving users the ability to know what to expect before clicking on a website on SERPs.
In a statement from Google —
“To help users identify great experiences as they browse, we are excited to announce that Chrome will begin to highlight high-quality user experiences on the web, starting with the labeling of fast links via the link context menu on Chrome for Android.”
Google confirms the use of Core Web Vitals as a guide for labeling fast websites and those that aren’t.
“Labeling is based on signals from the Core Web Vitals metrics that quantify key aspects of users’ experience, as experienced by real-world Chrome users. The Core Web Vitals metrics measure dimensions of web usability such as loading time, responsiveness, and the stability of content as it loads, and define thresholds for these metrics to set a bar for providing a good user experience”.
With this labeling on websites, users can easily decide if the website is fast, stable, and responsive. One thing to note: labeling is not for every website—yet. The fast page labeling will be for pages with sufficient historical data of being fast.
Pages without enough data will be evaluated based on their website’s host history.
Frequently Asked Questions About Google’s Fast Page Label
1. How To Find The Fast Page Label For Your Website or Page?
The “fast page” label can only be found on Android using the Chrome Beta Android App. So, before you can check if your website or the page has the fast label, you need an android in place, then download the app and follow these steps:
- Open the Chrome Beta App on your android and enter this URL into your address bar:
Here’s how it’ll look:
- The chrome page you'll enter is a long list of experimental functions. Scroll down and look for “Context menu performance info and remote hint fetching.”
- Or better yet, search for it in the search bar on the page.
- Click on the drop-down menu and select “Enabled.”
- Once enabled, you’ll see a “Relaunch” notification at the bottom of your screen; click it and relaunch your chrome app for it to activate.
Any website enabled with the fast page label will now be shown to you both on SERPs and the website itself. A quick example to test it out: Wikipedia.
With this label on your page or website, you know where you stand in terms of overall website performance. Don’t worry if you can’t find it on your website, as the feature is still in beta.
According to reports from Screaming Frog, only about 12-13% of websites are optimized enough to get the label. Also, considering Google is still experimenting with this feature, it’s subject to change even more.
2. Is There An Icon For The Fast Page Label?
Currently, Google has no specific icon to identify a fast page beyond the text “fast page.” On the other hand, in the past year, Google has rolled out two main indicators to test the fast page label on websites.
The first is a lightning bolt icon for AMP-enabled pages and fast that is considered “instant.”
Source: Search Engine Roundtable.
However, Google removed the lightning bolt icon and hasn’t replaced it. Meanwhile, a few users on Twitter have confirmed seeing a different type of icon on their SERPs.
For now, Google has neither confirmed nor denied the use of this symbol, but we hope to get a breakdown of this recent update in an upcoming announcement.
3. Is It Compulsory For My Website To Have A Fast Page Label?
It’s not compulsory, but it’s more of a necessity to boost your overall website’s appearance to users. For example, having the “fast page” label on your website gives users a sense of assurance before clicking your link; with this, you reduce your bounce rate tremendously while also increasing your Click Through Rate (CTR).
Nevertheless, it’s advisable to aim to have a fast page label on your website. This is because it’s possible to be a core ranking factor in the long run. You’ll easily outrank competitors and possibly dominate your topic by having it.
What Should I Do If I Don’t Have The Fast Page Label On My Website?
The fast page label is based on how your website performs when the results from Google’s Core Web Vitals are collated.
Ideally, PageSpeed Insights is a recommended yardstick for measuring where you fit among other websites.
According to Web.dev:
“To ensure you're hitting the recommended target for most of your users, a good threshold to measure is the 75th percentile of page loads, segmented across mobile and desktop devices.”
After averaging your scores from the three Core Web Vitals, your goal is to be in the 75th percentile at least.
Here’s an overview of our website from PageSpeed Insights:
With each of these scores, the tool assigns a score for you between 0 and 100.
The score you get is based on “user-perceived” performance. This means your score is a visual representation of how users experience your website.
- 0 to 49 (red): Poor
- 50 to 89 (orange): Needs Improvement
- 90 to 100 (green): Good
The Web.dev team said in their report:
“The weightings are chosen to provide a balanced representation of the user's perception of performance. The weightings have changed over time because the Lighthouse team is regularly doing research and gathering feedback to understand what has the biggest impact on user-perceived performance.”
These scores are gathered by Lighthouse, as it converts all your raw metrics into a meaningful performance score.
In discussing how each of these scores is determined, Google said:
“ Once Lighthouse is done gathering the performance metrics (mostly reported in milliseconds), it converts each raw metric value into a metric score from 0 to 100 by looking where the metric value falls on its Lighthouse scoring distribution. The scoring distribution is a log-normal distribution derived from the performance metrics of real website performance data on HTTP Archive.”
If you check PageSpeed Insights and find that you’re not good, i.e., below a performance score of 75, then you’ll likely not get the fast page label on your website.
4. How Can I Improve My Chances of Having The Fast Page Label?
Since having the fast page label is based on having passed all the metrics of Google’s core web vitals, improving your overall page load time should be your goal. Below are three ways you can improve your page load time for better website performance.
Opt for Premium Hosting
A good host is like having a solid foundation before building a house. Shared hostings are a great way to start but shouldn't be relied on later. With shared hosting plans, you’re sharing your server space with at least a few hundred to thousands of other websites.
This exposes you to cyber-attacks and possible breaches due to limited privacy. You’re likely to also have poor load time due to load on the server as it’s also serving thousands of other websites.
A solution is to opt for either dedicated hosting or a virtual private server. Each is strong enough to handle your website and deliver content to users almost immediately when requested.
If you own a private blog with loads of traffic, dedicated hosting is a good choice. A virtual private server is a step up but suited to large companies due to its cost.
Compress Your Images
Images are a part of what gives users a detailed visual representation of the intended message received by viewing content. However, if you run a website where you have to upload high-resolution images without constantly compressing them, your page load time will be slow and affect your performance.
Compressing your images using third-party tools like Compressor.io is an excellent way to handle this. This lets you maintain the quality of your images while reducing their size.
It also gets better if you’re using a CMS like Shopify or WordPress to power your website. You can easily navigate to their store and install an image compressor plugin that automatically compresses your images once you upload them.
How does code affect the performance of your website? Either it’s poorly written or excessive on the website. In either case, rewriting the code is your best option. When code is not executed correctly during the page load event, it gets clogged on the browser’s main thread. Until the browser can execute this code, the website will not respond to some user interactions, and when this happens, users get a bad experience with your website.
There are two ways of solving this issue:
- Minify codes on your website
Minifying takes on the approach of reducing the amount of codes needed to execute a command.
A quick example of this is this example code:
When you minify this code, you get this:
As long as shortening the code leads to the same goal and executes the same command, always minify it.
Depending on your CMS of choice, a simple plugin will handle most of what you’ll need to minify your codes automatically. You may also require a professional’s help with this.
- Change Your Entire Code
In some cases, minifying won’t solve your issue, and your overall performance would likely still be poor. In this case, you’ll likely need to change the entire code of your website. But, again, it’s advisable not to do this yourself unless you’re an expert and are sure that’s what your website needs.
Overall, the impact of fast page labels is not just Google telling users which website is good for them and which isn’t. Rather, it aims to deliver the optimum user experience across all channels both while on SERP and the intended website of the user’s choice.
The best way to get ahead of this update while it’s still in the development phase is to try to optimize your overall website performance. We have articles on all Core Web Vitals and how you can improve each one.
Core Web Vitals
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