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InstantClick.io is a pretty awesome JS library that makes a website feel a lot faster (in most cases) by prefetching links when a user is hovering above them. This will cut off at least about 100ms from the experienced load time.

Since InstantClick can radically improve the user experience I would hope that it's also good for SEO. Load times are important and Google has been hammering on this for a long time now. However, I have not been able to find any good, authoritative indication on whether InstantClick is good, bad or neutral to search engine rankings.

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InstantClick has no effect on SEO, as far as I know. Google has no way to detect the cool trickery that’s going on with JavaScript, so InstantClick’s UX benefits unfortunately aren’t reflected in SEO.

(I’m InstantClick’s creator.)

  • But doesn't google expect different pages on each "topic"? I mean, with instantclick body and title are replaced but is that seen as a whole new page? It's sad that we don't win points by using it but I wanna know if we could get penalized. Thanks for your work btw. – Carles Alcolea May 28 '15 at 5:40
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Google does factor page speed into its ranking algorithm but it is a small factor affecting only the slowest of sites. So if it makes a difference, and as of right now there is no indication that it does, it isn't going to be much.

While site speed is a new signal, it doesn't carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal in our implementation and the signal for site speed only applies for visitors searching in English on Google.com at this point.

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    Even if InstantClick affects user speed experience, it has no effect on the speed Google sees. – Tero Kilkanen Sep 16 '14 at 11:14
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Google has its own pre-fetch both at bot and browser-client level, and there is a high chance it wont run that JS as a bot. Actually it doesnt run most JS unless its from its own Googroot (like conversion, analytics, tagmanager container).

That being said, there are significantly better layers to optimize for pagespeed. Google even has its own Apache module (mod_pagespeed) that can offer significant improvements at server level by processing images, minifying code, consolidating responses, and more. It comes down to pure server response time though...how fast can it respond at first byte? How fast + efficient can it parallel thread? How fast can it rip through big DB queries?

Also, about that hover pre-fetch mod may significantly slow down the web experience for many visitors to your site if they hover for tooltips, right click stuff to save, skim over it while touch, etc...especially mobile or limited guest Wifi. Combined with the similar predictive pre-fetch from Chrome itself, the 2 will stack resulting in even more bandwidth.

In my opinion, this mod is not what it may seem :) Broadband is fast enough, the delay it saves will not be noticeable VS the angst it causes your slower users.

Im not being a negative nancy, just be careful with that :)

  • Nice answer. Want to add that I immediately noticed the speed up caused by InstantClick on a site without knowing it was InstantClick. Try it out for yourself. – kqw Sep 16 '14 at 7:26
  • Couple use cases: I tried it, but I didn't hover on any links, I just clicked them so I didn't see any speed difference. Then I hovered on them but didn't visit them, still no speed difference. Then I tried it again on slower net of tether, hovered on a few links...my net began timing out because you can't press "stop" with Javascript. Then the scripts themselves started timing out since it ate all my bandwidth. Generally went downhill from there. I understand how it can seem to help on some net in some cases...but these are just a few where it hinders – dhaupin Sep 16 '14 at 15:34

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