Google Instant Pages: How it Works and How You Can Use it Today

Google announced a number of new features to its search products earlier this morning, but the one announcement that really stood out was the launch of Google Instant Pages. With Instant Pages, Google will prerender pages it is highly confident you will click on when you see a search results page. Typically, this will be the first result on the page. This, according to the company’s data, will save users between 2 and 5 seconds per query as pages will render “within the blink of an eye.”

How it Works

With Instant Pages, Google doesn’t just preload the HTML of a page as some other browsers and plugins do, but Google’s servers will actually pre-execute some of the JavaScript on the page and fetch data from third-party sites as well. Instant Pages will only prerender one page per search results page.

Here is how Google describes this feature:

What is prerendering? Sometimes a site may be able to predict with reasonable accuracy which link the user is most likely to click on next–for example, the ‘next page’ link in a multi-page news article. In those cases, it would be faster and better for the user if the browser could get a head start loading the next page so that when the user clicks the page is already well on its way to being loaded. That’s the fundamental idea behind prerendering. The browser fetches all of the sub-resources and does all of the work necessary to display the page. In many cases, the site simply seems to load instantly when the user clicks.

Google is also making this technology available for other sites and has launched a guide to prerendering in Chrome for developers. Publishers will be able to choose which pages on their own sites they want to prerender (not from the search results, but when users are already on their pages). It’s important that developers only enable this for a limited number of pages, though, and Google warns that doing this for the wrong links could result in “increased bandwidth usage, slower loading of other links, and slightly stale content.”

How to Get It Today

Google Instant will be available in the developer version of Chrome today and will be coming to the beta version later this week. If you are using the stable version, you will have to wait a few weeks before you get to use this new feature.

The developer and beta versions of Chrome are available for download here, but remember that these versions can sometimes be unstable.

Once you have a version of Chrome with Instant Pages installed, you can give it a try here.