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Google Announces Lighthouse 8.3.0 Update

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Lighthouse is the technology that powers many essential Google SEO tools like PageSpeed Insights and Chrome Dev Tools, which help improve Google SEO rankings and traffic. Recently, Google announced that they would update Lighthouse to version 8.3.0.

Apart from including various improvements and fix bugs, the new version will also take one step towards measuring what occurs after loading a web page. This new approach is referred to as “Project Fraggle Rock”.

Lighthouse’s new version is live on PageSpeed Insights. Google announced that they would release it in Chrome Dev tools – particularly in Chrome 94 – on 21 September 2021.

Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse is an open-source tool from Google. It tests web pages for accessibility issues and performance bottlenecks and identifies SEO opportunities. Since it is open-source, one can find Lighthouse’s underlying code in several third-party tools. Some of the tools extend Lighthouse by using various helpful data visualisations. This means that any changes to Lighthouse will also reflect in third-party tools.

One can include Lighthouse in their Chrome Dev Tools suite of tools, which exists in Chrome-based browsers. Lighthouse 8.3.0 will soon come to Chrome 94 with the same release date of 21 September 2021.

Difference Of PageSpeed Insights And Lighthouse 8.3.0

PageSpeed Insights is one of the Google SEO tools that measure web page performance, and Google Lighthouse powers it.

There is a difference between PageSpeed Insights and the Lighthouse tool, though; the former only presents web page performance metrics and strictly focuses on the said metric. Moreover, PageSpeed Insights does not display the data that Lighthouse shows, including SEO and accessibility.

So what’s new in Lighthouse 8.3.0? Google did not make any significant shifts in measuring Core Web Vitals, but version 8.3.0 gives a peek of the future enhancements, including bug fixes.

Lighthouse Fraggle Rock Project

Lighthouse 8.3.0 goes beyond just analysing a single web page, offering a way to examine user flows. The future of Lighthouse is analysing flows from when a user interacts with a web page element like a button and what happens next.

Lighthouse currently measures data, such as the time it takes for web pages to become interactive. The new approach of analysing the flow direction will measure what happens next after the web page loads. Google calls this Project Fraggle Rock, a name based on a children’s show in the 1980s that featured a lighthouse called the Fraggle Rock Lighthouse.

They officially described the Fraggle Rock project as Lighthouse scripted scenarios that allow developers and site owners to get a Lighthouse report beyond an initial page load. It provides site owners with insights into their site’s performance and best practices for complex user flows, such as add-to-cart, sign-up, time-to-tweet, and more.

GitHub’s official page describes four scenarios:

  • – Run timespan-style audits on a page during arbitrary interactions
  • – Run Lighthouse on a single page app navigation
  • – Run Lighthouse on traditional page navigation from an existing page
  • – Run snapshot-style audits on a page after users interacted with web elements, like a menu option

There are eight (tentative) phases before they include running flows to Lighthouse. Currently, the Lighthouse team is in Phase zero – the planning phase.

Phase 0 – Research And Design

  • Create an inventory of all audits cataloguing their implicit requirements (snapshot v. timespan v. load) – Complete
  • Create design document and project plan – Complete

Phases 1 to 8 are not yet complete, which means that the Lighthouse team is still at the beginning of their update, and the SEO community has yet to see any dramatic changes with the tool.

Lighthouse 8.3.0 Bug Fixes

Lighthouse 8.3.0 also includes bug fixes and improvements, some of which were suggested by developers after discovering the issues. For example, the new version fixes the bug “resource size calculation of cached images”.

A developer expressed that they wanted to disable cache because when they calculate resource size, the gatherer takes into account transferSize, which is 0 for cached images. Therefore, the gatherer ignored the images coming from cache, which is unwanted behaviour as it should not matter whether an image is cached or not when it comes to optimisation.

The developer successfully fixed the issue by turning off the cache; however, it added 10 seconds to their Lighthouse runs. They also wondered if the code mentioned above isn’t discarding cached images unintentionally.

Lighthouse SEO Category Reworded

Google has rewritten Lighthouse’s SEO category to emphasise Core Web Vitals (CWV). In doing so, they also rewrote the explicit reference to improving one’s search results rankings. Instead, the words “search engine optimisation advice” were used to sound more neutral in terms of the guarantee of getting top rankings in the search engine results pages.

The GitHub page for the change states that they toned down their SEO category description’s comprehensiveness and reminded their users about CWV.

The previous Lighthouse SEO description says that checks ensure their page is optimised to rank well in the search results. It also stated that additional factors could affect a site’s search ranking – including factors that Lighthouse does not check.

On the other hand, the new Lighthouse SEO description states that checks ensure their pages are compliant with the basic search engine optimisation advice. Like the old SEO description, the reworded version states that other factors could affect the search ranking, but this time, it mentions Core Web Vitals as an example.

The rewrite done by the Lighthouse team more accurately describes SEO as optimisation for search engines. The change also helps clear out the misunderstanding that using the Lighthouse tool will automatically lead to better rankings. But the most exciting part of the version 8.3.0 announcement is its Fraggle Rock project, with more details about it coming soon.

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