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Google mobile search is getting faster - to be exact, 200-400 milliseconds faster! We are gradually rolling out this improvement to all browsers that support the <a ping> attribute (currently, mobile Chrome and Safari).

What's the benefit? Whenever the user clicks on a result, typically they are first sent to a Google URL redirector and then to the target site. With <a ping>, the click is tracked using an asynchronous call, meaning that the user sees one less redirect and a faster overall experience!
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32 comments
 
Thanks for clarifying. I'll have to look into how using the ping attribute can benefit my customers. 
 
Is this a new use for the ping attribute? Where can I find the best info on it - seems like a possible replacement for tracking offsite links referrals without JS?
 
Thanks for sharing this , very informative. 
 
Why not have endpoint sites implement it on their side? (e.g. a Google Analytics query param of "utm_ping=1" that would tell GA on the resulting site to do the ping, or their own ajax front-end to do it). Some sort of pact to do ajax pings of the referrer when the user got there...
 
Neat! So is it just an async POST to a uri?
 
+Greg Lavallee despite GA's popularity, not every site implements GA, and polluting URL's with more parameters is also not a great outcome. 
 
Added bonus of the href actually containing the URL making it possible to more easily copy the link using a contextual action.
 
Does this mean it will be possible to use Copy Link Address to get the original URL right on the search result page?
 
The spec requires that it's possible to turn off the ping request. How do I do that in Chrome?
 
Better still, don't track the links we click at all!
 
Is it possible to disable pings based on the target host? E.g. I'd like to leave pings generally enabled, but prevent them being sent to facebook.com ... 
 
+Martin Eyles pings can serve a positive purpose, e.g. improving search personalization.

This type of standard is actually very good for privacy, as it makes it much easier for the browser to identify "ping links," and therefore much easier to give the user control over them.
 
So how does it detect if a browser doesnt support ping?
 
Is this something developers need to add to their links, or do Chrome and Safari add the ping attribute themselves?
 
+Julian Reschke: You can turn off <a ping> via a flag in Chrome: chrome://flags/#disable-hyperlink-auditing. I'm not sure what the Safari implementation looks like.
 
I understand that the latest decision is to hide the keywords data from search traffic to websites. How will you hide the keywords without using a redirector?
 
Does this send different http_referer values than normal Google search?
 
what will happen if the same href has been pointed by a different anchor tag?...
 
OOOOOOOOOOOH as if i can consciously detect 200 milliseconds, get real 
 
Nice.  Now Free browsers can pretend to be browsers that support the ping attribute, then just go to the href and skip the click tracking altogether. ;)
 
This is great! Although I hope widget makers will use short links to make the DOM as short as possible, rather than the example here... Can the ping attribute be generated on the fly on a mousedown event and still work?
 
This is a great improvement as the mobile traffic is raising on daily basis, definitely this will help Google and web-masters lot.
 
Where can I find implementation information?
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