Google has recently announced that it will start serving lighter versions of some web pages to people with slow internet connections. The aim is to speed up the experience of web users stuck with slow connections, for example 2G so they do not load too slow or consume too much data.
Google has said that they have developed a way to optimize the pages significantly so as to significantly reduce the size of the web page whilst preserving the majority of the data.
During testing, Google claims that users not only experienced a faster browsing experience, but that traffic increased by 50% to them. According to Google the pages load 4 times faster, consume up to 80% less data and results in 50% more page views… impressive.
The second part of the Google announcement seeks to reassure its publishers and advertisers that they will still serve adverts on the stripped down pages, and alludes that it will help them reach new audiences. This is a clever move on Google’s part as it seeks to reach out to new audiences and establish its dominance before the competitions.
The first region to experience the new faster web for slow connections is Indonesia, a country that still has many using slow connections even though the OOKLA download speed index rates their average speed as 6.5Mbps.
Help for Webmasters
Google has very helpfully provided a help page to assist webmasters getting to grips with the new pages. It explains how you can already test your own website to see what it will look like in the converted (“Transcoded”) form.
If you have a webmaster tools account they have a tool that will help advise how to see the new transcoded web page, which you will find here.
Basically, just enter your webpage in the “Your website” box, and click “Preview”. It will updated the “Transcoded page” link underneath which once clicked will show your website in transcoded form. Note that the result is intended for mobile users rather than desktop, so you will need to check the site either on your mobile, or using the Chrome Device mode.
You can see a screenshot of this site below in transcoded mode via the Chrome Device emulator:
Unfortunately, the website wasn’t 100% perfect in that mode, but when faced with a slow connection we think it will be by far good enough, and load very fast. That being said, should you not wish for your website to be transcoded like this on slow connections, then you can easily opt out by adding the following header to your website:
To implement this in HTML you will need to add the following in the Head section of your site:
<meta http-equiv=”Cache-control” content=”no-transform”>
To implement this via your .htaccess file you will need to add the following:
Header set Cache-Control “no-transform”
Before you rush to opt out of transcoding you should note that your search result will be flagged that it may take longer to load by Google.
However, being a new feature Google has just rolled out, it is only in Indonesia at the current time, but there are a couple of down sides to it. Firstly, only the first 3 adverts in the code will be displayed, no Google Analytics script will be served (so no visitor data), and it only works with the Chrome and Android browser.
In addition in some cases, Google will decide in any event to not show the trancoded page. This is particularly true when the site requires “cookies” (i.e. personalized or membership sites), sites that uses a lot of data such as video sites, or other sites that prove difficult to transcode.
Faster Google Search
The above transcoding comes hot on the heals of another evolution by Google to help mobile users with slow connections. On the 8th April they announced that it would serve slightly differing Google search pages for users with slow connections. You can see a screenshot below:
With mobile usage becoming more and more prevalent it makes a lot of sense for Google to focus on simple initiatives such as this to increase page views. This not only will increase revenue for itself and its publishers in existing markets, but will hopefully seek to make its presence more known in some of the newer markets in more remote communities that perhaps do not have the same connection speed.
Well played Google!