Google Retires Web Light Website Transcoding

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Google announced they are retiring the 7 year old Web Light service that enhanced websites for devices on slow mobile devices and mobile connections.

The official Google developer page documentation for Web Light Google and the associated user agent (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 slow mobile connections and devices.

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

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

Web Light previously worked on Chrome and Android browsers and just when Google discovered a slow connection. The performance did not activate for desktop devices or tablets, only for mobile devices on slow connections.

Google Analytics still functioned in the Web Light optimized pages.

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

So in theory Web Light need to not have actually affected advertisement profits but rather increased them since transcoded websites got as much as 50% more traffic at the time.

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

The now erased documentation described the functionality of Web Light:

“Google reveals much faster, lighter pages to people searching on sluggish mobile clients.

To do this, we transcode (transform) websites on the fly into a variation optimized for sluggish customers, so that these pages pack faster while conserving information.

This innovation is called Web Light.

Web Light pages maintain a majority of the relevant content and supply a link for users to view the original page. “

Web Light No Longer Needed

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

According to Statista, 99% of mobile information use in India throughout 2021 happened over 4G gadgets.

In 2015 there were just 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 paperwork to communicate that the Web Light user representative is retired.

Google’s announcement mentioned:

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

We introduced Web Light to allow us to serve much faster, lighter pages to individuals searching on entry-level gadgets.

While this feature has worked as desired and allowed broader access to the richness of the web, increased cost of more effective smartphones has reduced the need for such functionality.

We remain dedicated to evolving and fine-tuning the Search experience to meet the changing needs of our users.”

Featured image by Best SMM Panel/Asier Romero