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Google will now label ‘fast pages’ and rank them higher in search

“Chrome will begin to highlight high-quality user experiences on the web, starting with the labelling of fast links,” Google announced on the Chromium Blog. “This change will be rolling out starting in Chrome 85 Beta.”

Links to pages that meet its metrics thresholds will be displayed with a new “Fast page” label, which will be shown when a user long-presses a link prior to navigating to a page, the company explained. This will indicate that most users navigating to it have a particularly good experience.

According to Google, labelling will be 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. 

from the Chromium Blog

“Fast, responsive and delightful browsing”

The goal, according to Mountain View, is to provide users with a “fast, responsive and delightful browsing experience.” 

Our plan is to maintain alignment with Core Web Vitals as they evolve, so that we are always labeling pages that have optimized against the metrics that are most representative of a user’s overall experience. 

Google’s Addy Osmani, Ben Greenstein and Josh Simmons

Features like native lazy-loading already help pages meet this mark, and Google has also encouraged the adoption of best-practices such as HTTPS by distinguishing secure from insecure browsing in Chrome’s UI.

“Could potentially affect a lot of ranking results”

This is especially important for publishers since Google has already announced an upcoming change to search rankings that will incorporate Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal. This new ranking signal—still in development—is expected to shake up the search results.

“It’s going to affect all regular search results, mobile and desktop,” says Cyrus Shepard on Moz. “But also, and this is an important point, Core Web Vitals are going to become a criteria to appear in Google Top Stories. These are the news results that usually appear at the top of search results.

This could potentially affect a lot of ranking results.

Cyrus Shepard, on Moz

“May require some investments”

This is a major change that publishers need to take cognizance of, and Google advises that optimizing for this “may require some investments in improving page quality.” 

According to the company, “investing in these critical user-centric metrics will help drive usability improvements for users” and consequently, publishers would see increased engagement.

To help out, Google has updated its developer tools to surface information and recommendations, and its Search Console team has also added a report dedicated to Core Web Vitals.

While the “fast page” labels will be included in Chrome 85, publishers can check how their websites are performing now, and make the necessary changes before the official rollout.

Google has provided instructions here on how to enable and test the feature.