Google Retires Web Light Webpage Transcoding

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Google announced they are retiring the seven year old Web Light service that optimized web pages for devices on sluggish mobile phones and mobile connections.

The main Google designer page documentation for Web Light Google and the associated user representative (googleweblight) are both retired.

Google Web Light

Introduced in 2015, the purpose of the Web Light service was to make more of the web accessible to users in nations with sluggish mobile connections and gadgets.

The service worked by optimizing webpages so that downloading them used 80% less information, leading to a four-fold boost in speed over the slower 2G mobile networks.

According to Google the service in a 50% boost in traffic to webpages.

Web Light previously worked on Chrome and Android web browsers and only when Google found a sluggish connection. The performance did not set off for desktop gadgets or tablets, just for mobile phones on sluggish connections.

Google Analytics still worked in the Web Light enhanced pages.

In terms of advertisement serving, Web Light enhanced pages supported Sovrn, Zedo, AdSense, and Google Publisher Tags.

So in theory Web Light should not have impacted advertisement profits but rather increased them since transcoded web pages got up to 50% more traffic at the time.

The service was first presented in Indonesia and then to India.

The now erased documentation explained the functionality of Web Light:

“Google reveals quicker, lighter pages to individuals browsing on slow mobile customers.

To do this, we transcode (convert) websites on the fly into a version optimized for sluggish clients, so that these pages pack faster while saving information.

This innovation is called Web Light.

Web Light pages preserve a majority of the relevant material and offer a link for users to see the original page. “

Web Light No Longer Required

7 years later on, the accessibility of low-cost however powerful mobile devices and an enhancement in mobile connection speeds made the need of the service no longer needed.

According to Statista, 99% of mobile information use in India throughout 2021 took place over 4G devices.

In 2015 there were just 47 million devices that were 4G capable compared to 650 million in 2021.

The Google developer documentation for Web Light was removed and a note was contributed to Google’s User Representative documentation to communicate that the Web Light user agent is retired.

Google’s statement stated:

“Eliminated the Web Light documents and retired the Web Light user agent.

We presented Web Light to enable us to serve faster, lighter pages to individuals browsing on entry-level gadgets.

While this function has worked as desired and enabled broader access to the richness of the web, increased price of more effective mobile phones has diminished the requirement for such performance.

We remain committed to developing and fine-tuning the Search experience to satisfy the changing requirements of our users.”

Featured image by Best SMM Panel/Asier Romero