Why Google wants your website to be fast and secure

Isn't it time that you invested more time on the performance of your site, and not just its appearance?
22 November 2019

Good visual design is just half the battle. Source: Shutterstock

Last year, Google gave website owners a nudge in the right direction towards a safer web when the Chrome browser marked all HTTP sites as not secure.

In a digital world, where first impressions and image are everything, seeing the words “Not Secure” against your business name is far from ideal.

The days where users only checked for HTTPS when purchasing from an e-commerce site or checking their online bank are long gone. Every website owner that is serious about protecting their visitors while browsing, logging in, and staying on the right side of Google’s algorithms must now embrace the secure prefix on its URL.

As the rise of the experience economy continues at breakneck speed, Google is also exploring other badge options and promoting websites that provide a better user experience. However, the move towards a faster web could leave your business website with a badge of shame and a report detailing the poor performance of the site in question.

“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.” – Google Chrome Team

Slow websites and the blame game

As a user, we have all landed on a slow website that seems to take an age to download. This is the moment where you either blame the company or your own connection. But which is it? The more tech-savvy will switch between a mobile and a wi-fi connection to establish the root cause.

Surely, there is an easier way?

Google’s proposed alert system aims to solve that first-world problem in seconds, albeit in a passive-aggressive fashion that only Google could get away with. But the tech giant insists, the vision is “to help users understand when a site may load slowly, while rewarding sites delivering fast experiences.”

The not-so-thinly-veiled threat of a so-called badge of shame for websites that don’t play along will further pile on the pressure to already stretched developers.

Some could rightly argue that shaming slow loading websites is somewhat ironic considering how Google’s ads, trackers, and increasingly bloated browser that is a real contributing cause of the problem.

It’s also important to remember that there is more than just one browser out there. Ensuring that the performance reaches the requirements of all of them could quickly become a headache. But rightly or wrongly, most businesses are at the mercy of Google’s search algorithms.

Why style over substance is bad for business

There is an increased pressure on brands to have an online presence that is aesthetically pleasing and stands out from their competitors. Teams are often excited by going live with shiny new web design and branding.

However, this level of enthusiasm seldom continues after the launch and the months ahead. Monitoring performance and fixing issues that cause the site to become sluggish and slow down over time is often deemed unsexy.

Can businesses continue to bury their heads in the sand and neglect these early warnings from the search giant? Considering there is a myriad of tools from Google and SEO firm Moz advising everyone how to improve page speed optimization, there is no acceptable excuse for any business to ignore the user experience.

Ensuring that your website is safe, secure, and provides a great user experience should be the belts and braces of every website both at launch and in the months ahead. But many businesses have somehow lost their way and began getting distracted by the shiny allure of new tech rather than remembering the basics.

Building a better web experience

Paying more attention to the unsexy side of tech and what goes on under the hood to deliver better experiences can only be a good thing. We are at the time of year where many publications will be predicting the next big trends in tech with clickbait headlines to grab your attention.

By contrast, Google chose a low-key blog post to reveal its vision for the future of the web. Maybe business leaders should be paying more attention to something that could quickly affect how Google ranks brand and directs traffic to their brand and their competitors.

Try to imagine the moment that a potential client lands on your website. The Google Chrome browser already informs them if the site is secure. A badge telling them how fast and reliable your website is will take things to a whole new level, especially when digital-savvy users begin to compare this experience to your competitor in a separate search.

Ensuring that you provide a safe and secure experience will not only keep you on the right side of Google but your customers too. Isn’t it time that you invested more time on the performance of your site and not just its appearance?

Google believes that the web can do better. The only question that remains is, can you afford to disagree?