Lighthouse, the technology that powers audits in Chrome Dev Tools and PageSpeed Insights updated to version 8.3.0. The new version features bug fixes and incremental improvements but it also takes the first step toward measuring what happens after a web page loads. This new direction is called Project Fraggle Rock.
The updated version of Lighthouse is live on PageSpeed Insights. It is scheduled to be released in Chrome Dev Tools in Chrome 94 on September 21, 2021.
Because the tool is open source, the underlying code that powers Lighthouse can be found in numerous third party tools, some of which extend Lighthouse by adding different capabilities and more helpful data visualizations.
That means that any changes to Lighthouse will inevitably make it into third party tools as well.
Lighthouse can be used as part of the Chrome Dev Tools suite of tools that is native in every Chrome-based browser.
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Lighthouse 8.3.0 is coming Chrome 94, which is due to be released on September 21, 2021.
PageSpeed Insights Updates to Lighthouse 8.3.0
PageSpeed Insights is a web page performance measurement tool that is also produced by Google. Google Lighthouse powers PageSpeed Insights.
The difference between PageSpeed Insights and the Lighthouse tool is that PageSpeed insights only shows the web page performance metrics and is strictly focused on that metric.
PageSpeed Insights does not show the rest of the data that Lighthouse presents which includes accessibility and SEO.
What’s New in Lighthouse 8.3.0
There are no big shifts in how Core Web Vitals are measured. But version 8.3.0 represents a little step toward bigger things in the future and also includes bug fixes.
Lighthouse Fraggle Rock Project
Lighthouse 8.3.0 takes a small step toward moving beyond analyzing a single web page and expanding to also analyzing user flows.
The future of Lighthouse is analyzing flows from when a user takes an action like clicking a button and what happens next.
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Lighthouse currently measures things like how long it takes for a web page to become interactive.
The new running on flows direction will measure what happens after the page loads.
This project is whimsically called Fraggle Rock, which is the name of a 1980’s Children’s show that featured a lighthouse referred to as the Fraggle Rock Lighthouse.
The current description of the Fraggle Rock project is officially summarized:
“Fraggle Rock (Lighthouse scripted scenarios) allows a developer to get a Lighthouse report beyond an initial page load. This is valuable as it provides developers with insight into performance & best practices for complex user flows like sign-up, add-to-cart, time-to-tweet, etc.”
The official GitHub page for the new feature describes four scenarios:
- “Run snapshot-style audits on a page after interaction, i.e. I’ve clicked a menu option and now rerun the accessibility category
- Run timespan-style audits on a page during any arbitrary interaction
- Run Lighthouse on a traditional page navigation from an existing page
- Run Lighthouse on a single page app navigation”
There are eight (tentative) phases for bringing running flows to Lighthouse.
The Lighthouse team is currently in Phase zero, which is the planning phase.
“Phase 0 – Research & Design
- Create an inventory of all audits cataloging their implicit requirements (e.g. snapshot v. timespan v. load) Complete
- Create design doc and project plan Complete”
Phases 1 – 8 are not complete so it’s clear that the Lighthouse team is at the beginning of an important update that will dramatically change this tool.
Lighthouse 8.3.0 Bug Fixes
Lighthouse 8.3.0 also features bug fixes and small improvements, some of which were suggestions from the developer community that were frustrated with issues they discovered.
For example, one of the fixes was to address the “resource size calculation of cached images.”
One of the developers commented:
“The original reason we wanted to disable cache was because when calculating resource size, the gatherer takes transferSize into account, which is 0 for cached images. Images coming from cache are therefore ignored by this gatherer. This seems to be unwanted behavior as it shouldn’t matter whether an image is cached or not to optimize it.
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Turning off cache fixed the issue but added on average 10 seconds to our lighthouse runs. I’m wondering if the aforementioned code isn’t actually unintentionally discarding cached images.”
Lighthouse SEO Category Reworded
The new wording also removes the explicit reference to improving search results ranking and replaces that reference with the words “search engine optimization advice” which is more neutral in terms of promises of rocking the top of the search engine results pages.
The official GitHub page for this change states:
“Updates our SEO category description to tone down its comprehensiveness and remind the user about CWV.”
Previous Lighthouse SEO description:
“These checks ensure that your page is optimized for search engine results ranking.
There are additional factors Lighthouse does not check that may affect your search ranking.”
The new Lighthouse SEO description now reads like this:
“These checks ensure that your page is following basic search engine optimization advice.
There are many additional factors Lighthouse does not score here that may affect your search ranking, including performance on Core Web Vitals. Learn more.”
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Lighthouse 8.3.0 Summary of Changes
It’s realistic that the Lighthouse team reworded the SEO section to more accurately define SEO as optimization for search engines and pull back any association with ranking better.
Clearly the most interesting part of Lighthouse 8.3.0 announcement is the Fraggle Rock project, which will be covered in more detail soon.
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
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