Google Page Speed Service Raises Eyebrows

Google's Page Speed Service works like a Web hosting service, fetching content from publishers' servers, tweaking the pages and serving the content from its own servers.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) July 28 moved to extend its sphere of influence by offering Websites the opportunity to accelerate the loading of their Web pages by 25 percent to 60 percent.

Web page loading speed is a huge deal for publishers because their visitors won't stick around if a Website stutters while rendering content. However, some industry watchers believe this new Page Speed Service is geared to give Google more control over Websites.

Here's how Page Speed Service works. Publishers will sign in and point their Website's DNS (domain name system) entry to Google. Page Speed Service pulls content from publishers' servers, rewrites the pages to make them faster and serves them to users via Google's servers.

"Your users will continue to access your site just as they did before, only with faster load times," explained Ram Ramani, a Google engineering manager. Ramani added that publishers don't have to worry about compressing images, caching and other tedious Website optimization factors.

He also said Google tests revealed on several Websites boosted site speeds by 25 percent to 60 percent.

Some industry watchers were suspicious of Google's bid to circumvent publishers' servers by using their own, noting that it puts Google in the Web host or content delivery network category reserved for companies such as Akamai.

Search Engine Watch blogger Thom Craver said Google is actually offering "tricked out hosting, not a page optimizer."

"You have to set your DNS to point to Google instead of your current Web host," Craver wrote. "This means when someone types in your Website, Google's servers will answer, not yours."

He wonders whether publishers will trust Google with the delivery of their Website content. However, Google assured eWEEK in a statement that this is not the case: "We don't use the information collected from serving these Websites toward improving search results or targeting advertising to users. We may, however, use the information collected to improve the quality of Page Speed Service itself, including making pages serve even faster."

Meanwhile, Google is only offering Page Speed Service to a limited set of Webmasters for free, though publishers can request access to the service here. Pricing, which will be "competitive," will be detailed later.

The Page Speed Service is part of Google's ongoing "Make the Web Faster" campaign, and follows its Page Speed browser extension and Page Speed Online API, launched earlier this year.

The new service also follows Google's own free DNS service and theSPDY protocol, an open-source, protocol for transporting Web content and reducing the latency of Web pages loading.