Google Retires Web Light Webpage Transcoding

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

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

Google Web Light

Presented in 2015, the purpose of the Web Light service was to make more of the web accessible to users in nations with slow mobile connections and devices.

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

According to Google the service in a 50% increase in traffic to web pages.

Web Light formerly worked on Chrome and Android browsers and only when Google detected a slow connection. The performance did not trigger for desktop gadgets or tablets, only for mobile phones on sluggish connections.

Google Analytics still operated in the Web Light optimized pages.

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

So in theory Web Light must not have actually affected advertisement earnings however rather increased them because transcoded web pages received as much as 50% more traffic at the time.

The service was initially presented in Indonesia and after that to India.

The now erased paperwork described the performance of Web Light:

“Google reveals much faster, lighter pages to individuals searching on slow mobile customers.

To do this, we transcode (transform) websites on the fly into a variation enhanced for sluggish clients, so that these pages fill faster while saving information.

This technology is called Web Light.

Web Light pages preserve a majority of the relevant material and provide a link for users to view the initial page. “

Web Light No Longer Needed

Seven years later on, the accessibility of inexpensive however effective mobile phones and an improvement in mobile connection speeds made the need of the service no longer required.

According to Statista, 99% of mobile data usage in India during 2021 happened over 4G devices.

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

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

Google’s statement mentioned:

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

We introduced Web Light to allow us to serve faster, lighter pages to individuals browsing on entry-level devices.

While this function has worked as intended and made it possible for more comprehensive access to the richness of the web, increased price of more effective smartphones has lessened the need for such performance.

We remain committed to evolving and improving the Search experience to satisfy the changing requirements of our users.”

Featured image by Best SMM Panel/Asier Romero