Google has announced it plans to warn users of its Chrome browser about slow sites using a method called “badging”.

The idea is to provide a sign letting users know when a site typically loads slowly before they ever click a link to that site or while the site loads. Google sees this as a way to “reward” fast sites, saying:

“We think the web can do better and want to help users understand when a site may load slowly, while rewarding sites delivering fast experiences.”

For example, Google published one concept for what a slow speed badge could look like while a site is loading:

In this case, it is likely that the badge could increase abandonment rates for slow sites.

The company is also talking about using contextual menus that preview links and would include similar badges indicating a site is fast.

Another idea includes subtly changing the color of loading bars to indicate whether a site is fast:

As the company explained in its announcement:

“Our early explorations will look at a number of Chrome surfaces, including the loading screen (splash screen), loading progress bar and context-menu for links. The latter could enable insight into typical site speeds so you’re aware before you navigate.“

The web browser admits this idea is in the early stages, and may considerably change before they determine “which provides the most value to our users.”

Additionally, the company says they plan to expand the badges to include a number of metrics aside from speed:

“Our long-term goal is to define badging for high-quality experiences, which may include signals beyond just speed.”

Thanks to its high-level of adaptability, JavaScript (JS) has been in use in some shape or form for more than 20 years and remains one of the most popular programming languages used to build websites.

However, Google’s Martin Splitt, a webmaster trends analyst, recently suggested that webmasters should begin moving away from the coding language to rank most quickly on search engines.

In an SEO Mythbusting video exploring the topic of web performance and search engine optimization, Splitt and Ada Rose Cannon of Samsung found themselves talking about JavaScript.

Specifically, they discussed how using too much JS can drag down a site’s performance and potentially drag them down in Google’s search index.

How JavaScript Holds Content Back

One of the biggest issues that arise with overusing JS is when sites publish content on a daily basis.

Google uses a two-pass indexing process to help verify content before it is added to the search index. In the case of a JavaScript-heavy page, Google first renders the non-JS elements like HTML and CSS. Then, the page gets put into a queue for more advanced crawling to render the rest of the content as processing resources are available.

This means Java-heavy pages may not be completely crawled and indexed for up to a week after being published.

For time-sensitive information, this can be the difference between being on the cutting-edge and getting left behind.

What You Can Do Instead

Splitt offers a few different techniques developers can use to ensure their site is being efficiently crawled and indexed as new content is published.

One way to get around the issue would be to use dynamic rendering, which provides Google with a static rendered version of your page – saving them the time and effort of rendering and crawling the page themselves.

The best course of action, though, would be to simply rely primarily on HTML and CSS for time-sensitive content.

Splitt takes time to explain that JavaScript is not inherently bad for your SEO or search rankings. Once they are indexed, JS-heavy sites “rank just fine.” The issue is ensuring content is crawled and indexed as quickly and efficiently as possible, so you can always be on the cutting edge.

The discussion gets pretty technical, but you can view the entire discussion in the full video below:

A new study suggests that although highly ranking sites on search engines may be optimizing for search engines, they are failing to make their sites accessible to a large number of actual people – specifically, those with visual impairments.

The study from Searchmetrics used Google Lighthouse to test the technical aspects of sites ranking on Google. Unsurprisingly, it showed that high-ranking websites were largely fast and updated to use the latest online technologies, and were relatively secure.

However, the analysis revealed that these high-ranking websites were lagging behind when it came to accessibility for those with disabilities.

Based on scores from Google’s own tools, the average overall score for accessibility for sites appearing in the top 20 positions on the search engine was 66.6 out of 100.

That is the lowest score of the four ranking categories analyzed in the study.

Google’s Lighthouse accessibility score analyzes a number of issues that are largely irrelevant for many users, but hugely important for those with disabilities or impairments – such as color contrast and the presence of alt tags to provide context or understanding to visual elements.

As Daniel Furch, director of marketing EMEA at Searchmetrics, explains, this can be a major issue for sites that are otherwise performing very well on search engines:

“If you don’t make your site easily accessible to those with disabilities, including those with impaired vision, you cut yourself off of from a large group of visitors.

Not only is it ethically a good idea to be inclusive, but also obviously you could be turning away potential customers. And some sites have even faced lawsuits for failing on this issue.”

In mid-2018, Google’s web browser Chrome made a small tweak to help users know how safe a specific site was. Specifically, it added a tag in the search bar flagging any site that had not updated to HTTPS as “not secure”.

Now, with the help of a new survey from the agency John Cabot, we are finally getting insight into how this little notification affects people’s perception of sites.

Based on a survey of 1,324 people in the UK, the survey finds that nearly half of all people respond negatively to sites which are flagged as “not secure” and many are less willing to give personal information to these sites.

According to the findings, 47% of respondents said they “knew roughly what the warning meant.” Similarly, 46% said they would not give their names or financial information to a site flagged as “non-secure”. Even more, 64% of that group say they would immediately leave non-secure sites.

The survey also found a few other fears and concerns when users come upon a non-secure site:

  • Their device was exposed to a virus — 14%
  • They had arrived on a fake version of the intended site — 12%
  • The content was “unreliable and not fact-checked” — 9%
  • Being signed up for spam email — 8.4%

Notably, the survey found that a brand’s existing perception appears to play a role in determining how people respond to a non-secure site. For example, retailer John Lewis experienced significantly less negative reactions to their site, despite being tagged as non-secure. This suggests widespread name recognition could potentially counter the warning.

Still, the findings of the survey show that a huge number of users are taking note any time they find a business website which has not implemented HTTPS encryption and many are even changing their behaviors based on this warning. If you haven’t updated your business site, these results suggest you could be losing up to 50% of your potential customers to something that is easy and affordable to implement.

A new survey of US consumers has some surprising findings about what customers expect out of business websites.

The results from 1,013 respondents between the ages of 18-60 show that consumers have high expectations when it comes to how frequently your website is updated, what features are implemented, and how you are advertising your business online.

What Consumers DON’T Want in a Website

Of the respondents, more than 80% say they view a brand more negatively if their website is out of date. Additionally, 39% of consumers say they would reconsider buying a product or service if the website isn’t current.

The issue of advertising is also a prickly subject for consumers, based on the survey results.

Less than 10% approved of brands showing ads on social media based on a person’s browsing activity. Meanwhile, approximately 26% feel negatively about ads appearing on their social media feeds based on their browsing or device history – saying it is an invasion of privacy.

On the other hand, 41% of consumers say they don’t mind if websites keep personal data, but only if it is secured on used exclusively to improve the user experience.

Overall, consumers are largely conflicted. Approximately 50% of respondents say that they like the convenience of brands keeping data for to improve ads and user experience, but they are concerned about how else it might be used.

What Consumers DO Want in a Website

In general, consumers say ease of use should be the top priority in making their online experience better.

Approximately 50% of the respondents said they prefer user-created content like reviews and photos to help inform their purchasing decision.

Meanwhile, 25% say their favorite website feature is receiving a reminder when they have left a product in their shopping cart.

Perhaps surprisingly, a major feature desired by users is an on-site search engine. Nearly one-third of respondents say they are put-off if a site does not have a search box, while more than 40% say a search box is the most important feature on a site.


The survey includes a number of interesting findings about consumer behavior and desires online covering a wide range of topics. You can read all the details from Blue Fountain Media here.

 

Google has been banging the drum for speeding up mobile websites for what seems like forever now, and they’ve released numerous tools to try to help webmasters do just that. This week, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the search engine announced two more resources to show websites how they are performing – a new “Mobile Scorecard” and Conversion Impact Calculator.

The tools present marketers and webmasters with visual-heavy depictions of how their website stacks up to the competition and what they may be missing out on by not being quicker to load pages

Google’s Mobile Scorecard

The Mobile Scorecard uses data from the Chrome User Experience Report to compare the speed of several sites on mobile. This allows you to directly compare your site against your closest competitors in a race for the fastest website. According to Google, the Mobile Scorecard can give information on thousands of sites across 12 countries.

Even if you’re the leader of the pack, Google recommends making sure your site loads and becomes usable within five seconds on most mobile devices and within three seconds on 4G connections.

Google Conversion Impact Calculator

Of course, the biggest thing keeping most businesses from enhancing their websites for mobile devices is money. To help sway you towards making the investment, Google is launching the new Impact Calculator which shows how much revenue you could be missing out on because of a slow loading speed.

The calculator uses data from The State of Online Retail Performance report from April 2017. This report found that every second it takes for your web pages to load can hurt conversions by up to 20 percent.

The tool calculates your potential lost conversion revenue based on your average monthly visitors, average order value, and conversion rate.

Both the Mobile Scorecard and Impact Calculator are available to check out here.

Single-page websites have taken over the internet lately. More and more businesses are choosing to streamline their sites to get straight to the point, and newer brands are opting to avoid paying to create a dozen or more pages. The question is whether single-page websites are actually good for you and your brand.

Admittedly, there are a few clear benefits from single-page websites. They tend to work well on mobile devices and load more quickly than a site with numerous pages. Since more than half of all searches are now coming from mobile sources, these can help you ensure people on smartphones don’t have to wait to check out your stuff.

There are also a variety of free tools that can help set-up a stylish one-page site, while designing a full multi-page site can cost thousands of dollars.

However, it’s not all roses and sunshine when it comes to single-page websites. Here are a few things to consider before you decide to go minimalist with a one-page website for your brand:

Lack of info

The biggest problem with single-page websites is simply cramming everything your potential customers want to know all on one page.

On a multiple-page website, you can publish all sorts of content and valuable information that helps your visitors become informed and excited about your products or services. When you cut all that down to one page, you lose a lot of the details that can be a deciding factor in turning someone from a visitor to a customer.

Even with a great layout that includes separate sections for different topics or types of services, it is nearly impossible to include everything your variety of visitors want to find.

SEO limitations

Since you can’t fit in as many types of content or information, it is also hard to target as many keywords or phrases as you have in the past. Sites with lots of pages of content can cover a huge range of keywords related to your business, helping you rank on diverse search pages that might draw in different parts of your audience.

On that note, it can also be hard to keep your site looking “active” since you are only updating it for new products or when you change your business’s phone number. Rather than keeping people up-to-date, single-page websites are typically planned to be “evergreen” and need minimal updating. That may sound nice, but search engines tend to prefer sites that are regularly adding new information and resources – not stagnant sites that are only updated a few times a year at most.

Cost vs. Effect

One of the most common reasons I hear for going single-page is that it is cheaper. You don’t have to hire a web designer to customize numerous pages with unique layouts and images or have a writer fill all those pages with copy and content.

That can all be tantalizing, but as the saying goes: “you get what you pay for.” If you use a free or cheap template for your single-page website, you risk looking bland and forgettable because others are using that exact same layout.

Even if you hire someone to create a great single-page layout, it becomes hard to make your page effective. Strategized approaches get cut to fit within the limited mold, and your copy becomes broad to cover as much as possible as quickly as you can.

All-in-all, single-pages require a ton of work to be anywhere as effective as a traditional website. You have to fight an uphill battle to optimize your site for search engines and hope your content is so insanely precise that you aren’t missing any details your customers want. So, if you are choosing a one-page site for its low-cost, you should realize it will cost you one-way or the other down the road.

The final verdict

As with any trend, it can be hard to resist the urge to be up-to-date and hip. But, trends are fleeting because they often aren’t fully thought through. There will always be a small number of brands who benefit from going to a single-page site, but most discover it’s not as great or easy as they thought it would be.

Do you have a website for your business? If you’re like 60% of small business owners around the world, the answer is no. Whether it is because you lack the expertise or can’t afford it, Google wants to help.

This week, Google officially released a simple one-page website builder designed to make getting your brand online quick, easy, and (most importantly) free.

The new feature, called “Website”, allows you to create and edit a basic website for your business in just a few minutes. You can even make your site on a smartphone, as well as from a desktop device or tablet.

Website is being touted as a new part of Google My Business, meaning you will have to sign-up and fill out business information before you can use the tool. However, this also makes the process of making a site easier, since Google automatically uses this information to fill out your website. From there, you can customize it with a selection of themes, pictures, and customizable text.

If you don’t already have a GMB listing for your business, Google will automatically ask if you’d like to create a site when you sign-up. Those with existing listings on GMB can click the “Manage location” tab and select Website from the menu to get started. You can also skip right to making your website by clicking here.

The process is extremely simplified. Google will walk you through the steps and you can spend as much or as little time as you want tweaking your page before publishing it onto the web. You don’t even have to worry about hosting.

Any sites made with Website will have a URL following the structure “yourcompanyname.business.site” by default, but you can also purchase a custom domain through Google My Business within the Settings menu.

Once your website is online, any changes you make to your GMB listing will automatically be applied to your website as well.

Of course, the tool is designed to be used for very basic websites and lacks many of the features you would expect from a more comprehensive website management system. You won’t be able to create additional pages to highlight specific products or services, let alone operate a blog or robust sales page. On the upside, having a simple website for free is still better than nothing at all.

Google Logo

Do you have an on-site search engine to help visitors find the products and content they want? Do you rely on Google’s Site Search service for your search engine? If so, you should begin making plans for a replacement.

Google has confirmed it will be shutting down the Google Site Search product and discontinuing support by the fourth quarter of 2017.

Google Site Search powered internal search engines with Google’s own search technology, charging users based on monthly query volume for the product.

The paid site search product wasn’t Google’s only on-site search product. The company is directing consumers using the company to use either the ad-powered free custom search engine or cloud search product.

In a statement to Search Engine Land, a Google spokesperson said:

We are winding down the Google Site Search product over the next year, but will provide customer and technical support through the duration of license agreements. For GSS users whose contract expires between April 1st and June 30th, 2017, we are providing a free 3-month extension with additional query volume to allow more time for them to implement the necessary changes to their site. GSS customers may also take advantage of our Custom Search Engine solution, an ads-supported model that offers similar functionality. We continue to build out new functionality and invest in new technology that make enterprise search a great experience for our customers. Just recently, we introduced the general availability of Google Cloud Search for G Suite customers.

accelerated-mobile-pages

The Accelerated Mobile Pages project says it has made its stripped-down superfast mobile pages even more versatile with the ability to support forms in AMP HTML.

AMP uses a simplified version of HTML to provide pages faster than usually possible on mobile devices – where speed matters most to users. However, the format offers limited features compared to full-fledged web pages. Until now, one of those limitations was the lack of ability to include forms.

Now, AMP users can include everything from the standard e-mail address capture form to more complex forms or even interactive polls. In addition to making it easier to communicate or gain information from your visitors, the support for forms can help with allowing customers to select colors or other details on e-commerce product pages.

form-error

As the AMP project says in its announcement, support for forms “enables building experiences ranging from a product color picker on an e-commerce detail page to an email field to capture newsletter signups to an interactive poll to engage readers within an article.”

If you want to start running your own AMP pages to deliver content faster to on-the-go users or you want to start adding forms to your already existing accelerated mobile pages, check out the AMP project’s official guides and documentation.

You can also see live examples of what the forms may look like on your site at AMP by Example.

The AMP project says it plans to continue to expand the functionality of AMP pages and AMP forms based on user feedback, but the overall focus is still on providing functional and engaging web pages to users as fast as possible.