SEO

Google search retires Web Light, Google’s method to serve faster, lighter pages to people

Google has retired Web Light, Google’s mechanism to serve pages and content faster, using a more lightweight version of that page, to those with slower internet connections. Google said, “while this feature has worked as intended and enabled broader access to the richness of the web, increased affordability of more powerful smartphones has diminished the need for such functionality.”

What was Web Light. Google launched Web Light in 2015 as Google Lite, which was designed to help those with slow mobile connections on their search results page. Google would take the page, remove a lot of the heavier images and media and just show the searcher the text of the page. In 2018, Google even added a Search Console filter to see what pages were being served over Web Light.

Google’s message. As noted above, Google said, “We introduced Web Light to enable us to serve faster, lighter pages to people searching on entry-level devices. While this feature has worked as intended and enabled broader access to the richness of the web, increased affordability of more powerful smartphones has diminished the need for such functionality. We remain committed to evolving and refining the Search experience to meet the changing needs of our users.”

Web light user agent retired. With this news, Google retired the user agent for Web Light named “googleweblight.” So you should no longer see this user agent showing up in your log files.

Documentation removed. Google has also removed the help documentation for web light, so the only way to access the docs is to go to the Wayback Machine.

Why we care. A lot of publishers were not huge fans of Web Light because some felt it resulted in less revenue or no revenue. Plus, publishers do not like when their web pages and content do not look as they expect. In any event, this feature has been retired going forward.

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About The Author

Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.

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