With little fanfare, Google added a new Chrome feature that prevents the content of current pages from jumping up or down as other content gets loaded on the same page.

Called a "page jump," this phenomenon has become a real problem for today's websites, which delay the loading of images on purpose to improve page loading speeds, a crucial factor in search engine rankings.

When those images eventually load, much later than a page's text, the photos end up moving the user's view from the text he was previously reading.

Scroll Anchoring added in Chrome 56

Google addressed this issue of unwanted page jumps with something called "scroll anchoring," which it added to Chrome 56, in late January, after it ran tests since last year via Chrome beta versions (starting with Chrome 51).

According to Google, scroll anchoring works by freezing the current section of the page and by automatically adjusting the user's scrollbar placement, keeping the user's reading position in the same place, regardless of what gets loaded on the page.

Right now, Google Chrome uses a custom, non-standard "overflow-anchor: none" CSS property to control scroll anchoring's behavior. Developers who want to allow page jumps on their sites for various reasons can use this CSS property to ignore's Chrome default anti-page-jumps behavior.

Scroll Anchoring on its way to becoming an official standard

The new Scroll Anchoring technique is the sole work of the Google Chrome team. Last week, two Google engineers submitted the Scroll Anchoring mechanism to WICG (W3C's Web Platform Incubator Community Group) in the hopes it will become a recognized standard of its own, and other browsers would also implement it (hopefully in the same way).

Discussions on the Scroll Anchoring WICG proposal have just started, but Chromium-based browsers such as Vivaldi and Opera have already deployed it. If the WICG proposal goes through, we might see Scroll Anchoring in browsers such as Firefox, Edge, and even Safari.