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What Is Early Hints and How to Accelerate Your Website Loading Time

As we continue to review new developments in IT technology and Web standards, we at HowToHosting.guide will review what exactly Early Hints means as a term, how it affects Website Loading, and why it is important.

Early-Hints-by-Cloudflare-Accelerate-Website-Loading-Time-HowToHosting-guide

Early Hints is a Tool available to all Cloudflare customers for free and everyone can request BETA access to Early Hints inside the Cloudflare’s dashboard under the Speed tab.

We will begin with defining the term and explaining what it is in layman’s terms, afterward we will go into more detail about it and how to make the load time of your site faster.


What is Early Hints?

Early Hints sounds as some early indicator and it is close to that once you get the logic behind it. Early Hints make it possible for browsers to begin a pre-load phase before initiating the core response to be served to clients. Additionally, this can be used accompanying more Resource Hints Application Programming Interfaces such as pre-connect.


In-Depth Description of Early Hints

In more direct terms, Early Hints is a web standard that defines a new HTTP status code (103 Early Hints). The standard determines new interactions among a server and a client. 103 codes are served to clients at the same time a 200 code for OK or error message is being prepared also known as the server think time.

Inside there are hints on which assets will most likely be required to fully render the web page that is being loaded. The hints help the page loading to speed up and to generally reduce latency that is user-perceived.

In layman’s terms, in order to negate the slow loading observed by users, and actually creating a pre-load cycle, actually shortens the time in which a page loads. Thus, everything involved in a website loading its pages is faster and it is also a visible improvement to visitors.


Early Hints – Can It Boost Your Website?

The short answer is yes. Just by boosting your speed, Early Hints can increase load speeds, overall site speed, client satisfaction rates, SEO rankings and more.


Can Your Website Become Faster?

Early Hints is responsible for individual pages and as such, every page that is being loaded, if Early Hints is implemented in general, will load faster, making everything faster. That is the true benefit of Early Hints and why it is crucial to have the standard set within your configuration.


Can SEO Ranking Be Improved? How About Client Satisfaction?

As we have already mentioned above Early Hints will make the pages of your website load faster, and in a similar fashion Crawler Hints will feed bot crawlers with good and precise data for them to crawl faster. The faster a bot reads your page, the faster your website will be boosted in SEO ranking. Logically, clients will be happy with the faster loading website, too.


Crawler Hints – What Is It?

Crawler Hints is another service from Cloudflare we will cover as it has a really similar end goal compared to Early Hints. We will cover all that in this section. Crawler Hints is enabled by default and has only benefits to bring to the table for you, your customers and the whole Internet.

Crawler Hints give high quality data to search engine bot crawlers when content has been modified on websites using Cloudflare. That allows them to:

  • precisely time their crawling
  • avoid wasteful crawls

as well as to reduce resource consumption in general of

  • Customer Origins
  • Crawler Infrastructure
  • Cloudflare Infrastructure

Crawler Hints is available to Cloudflare customers and origin owners. Crawler Hints will make certain that search engines and other bot-related processes will always have the newest version of your content, translating into satisfied users and ultimately influencing search rankings in a positive way for everybody.

Crawler Hints will generate less traffic hitting your origin, improving resource consumption and limiting carbon impact. Adding to that, your website performance will improve as people visiting your site will not be hindered in performance by bots anymore.


How to Accelerate Your Website Loading Time

All you have to do is to enable Early Hints and the technology will do the load time acceleration via its algorithm. Know that not all browsers support Early Hints yet, as it is in its Beta stage. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox browsers intend to support Early Hints in the future as they have voiced their opinion in announcements.


How to Sign-Up for Early Hints Beta

Follow the steps below for signing-up for Early Hints Beta:

  • Sign in to your Cloudflare Account
  • In the dashboard, navigate to Speed tab
  • Click on the Optimization section
  • Locate the Early Hints beta sign up card and request access

That is it – simple and efficient. You just have to wait for your access to be enabled by Cloudflare as apparently they are doing it in batches.


Testing Early Hints on Chrome Browser Version 94+

Early Hints support is available in Chrome by running a flag that works on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems:

open /Applications/Google\ Chrome\ Dev.app –args –enable-features=EarlyHintsPreloadForNavigation

After enabling the flag, regardless of your operating system, running your Chrome Browser with a version of 94 or higher will have Early Hints enabled. You would have your website benefitting from the tech and experience up to 30% faster load times on any page of your site.


Testing Early Hints with Web Page Test

Here we will enable Early Hints on a simple page testing tool to see how it works:

  • Navigate to webpagetest.org (it is free).
  • Specify the desired test URL. It should have the necessary pre-load/preconnect rel types in the Link header of the response.
  • Choose Chrome version higher than 94 for the browser.
  • Under Advanced Settings, select Chromium
  • At the end of the Chromium section there is a command-line section where you should paste the command listed in the next lines

The command is the Chrome’s Early Hints flag:

–enable-features=EarlyHintsPreloadForNavigation.

Afterward, you should have everything set to test how Early Hints works and apply it to your website and push it live.


Conclusion

In this article we have covered what Early Hints and Crawler Hints are as technologies by Cloudflare and how you can accelerate the loading time of your website with them. We at HowToHosting.guide hope that we have shed some light on the matter, made you more aware of these technologies and helped you understand how to implement Early Hints, thus making your site faster.

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