Google Stops Using Web Light To Serve Lighter/Faster Version Of Your Pages

Dec 20, 2022 - 7:31 am 0 by
Filed Under Google

Google Web Light Retired

Since 2015 Google has been serving lighter-weight and thus faster-loading web pages over Web Light to some devices that just don't have the speed or capabilities to load the heavier version of the page. Well, that is now done; Google retired Web Light.

Google posted the news on December 19th over here saying "Removed the Web Light documentation and retired the Web Light user agent. 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 was Google's method to show faster, lighter pages to people searching on slow mobile clients. Google transcoded web pages on the fly into a version optimized for slow clients, so that these pages load faster while saving data. This technology is what Google called Web Light. Google said that Web Light pages preserve a majority of the relevant content and provide a link for users to view the original page. Our experiments show that optimized pages load four times faster than the original page and use 80% fewer bytes. Because these pages load so much faster, we also saw a 50% increase in traffic to these pages.

John Mueller of Google said on Mastodon, "It's pretty cool to see these kinds of features become unnecessary. Sites have gotten a ton better (thanks in a large part to work by site owners, developers, SEOs, etc) & Internet access too. There's always room for improvement, and it's worth watching out for regressions too."

Well, that is now gone. Google retired the Web Light user agent, known as googleweblight and removed the help docs on Web light. Here is a screenshot of that doc:

Google Web Light Docs

Just an FYI, Web light had no impact on Google rankings.

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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