What just happened? Google is rewarding websites that load quickly by highlighting them with a 'Fast page' label in Chrome. It's currently only available in the beta of Chrome 85 for Android but could make its way to the desktop version after it becomes a full feature on mobile.
Google decides whether a site gets the label based on metrics from Core Web Vitals, an initiative it launched earlier this year that helps site owners measure factors such as loading times, responsiveness, and the stability of content as it loads, allowing them to make improvements where needed.
Those sites that have met or exceeded all metrics thresholds for the Core Web Vitals will be awarded the Fast page badge. It appears when long-pressing on a link, which brings up the context menu containing copying, sharing, and so on. The label indicates that "most users navigating to [that site] have a particularly good experience," and appears alongside a blue tick.
In May, Google started to use Core Web Vitals metrics in its search rankings.
Google hopes the label will help those who are using slow or unreliable network connections. While the badge currently only appears in the context menu, the company said it might experiment with labeling other parts of Chrome's UI, which could mean an icon in the address bar.
Google is rolling the label out in the beta of Chrome 85. After downloading this version of the browser, you can try out the feature by enabling a particular experimental Chrome flag. Go to 'chrome://flags' and look for 'Context menu performance info and remote hint fetching.' Enable this setting and restart Chrome. Once fully rolled out, users will see labelling if they have Lite mode or “Make Searches and Browsing Better” turned on.
Back in November, Google said it was in the early stages of creating a system that would highlight when a site was likely to be slow based on the device being used and network conditions. Expect Chrome start labeling these sites in the future.