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Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, is an open source framework launched in 2016 by Google and supported by big tech companies like WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others.
But is Google AMP something that many publishers still use today?
This article explains whether AMP is still relevant in 2022, the benefits and limitations of AMP, and whether publishers should create AMP pages for their websites.
What is Google AMP?
Google AMP is an HTML project designed to create fast-loading and lightweight mobile pages.
It must be clear that AMP although generic and non-binding, was created for exclusively editorial sites and therefore, blogs, newspapers, online newspapers, which mainly produce news. In short, it is not suitable for the creation of e-commerce sites, for example, forums, web applications and the like.
AMP was developed in response to Facebook instant articles and Apple news, allowing mobile users to quickly and easily consume content from their phones.
However, AMP is not tied to the app and any publisher can optimize their mobile content on the web.
Facebook instant article example
AMP website examples
You can spot AMP pages by a distinctive lightning bolt icon at the top of search results.
However, as of May 2020, Google has abandoned the AMP badge and stopped prioritizing the AMP format in its Top Stories carousel. So there is practically no difference between AMP and non-AMP pages in the SERP now.
How does AMP work?
AMP works by creating a simplified version of the HTML code that helps improve website loading speed on mobile devices.
Why do AMP pages load faster?
This image below shows how AMP pages work.
First, a publisher creates an AMP version of their original HTML document. The AMP-optimized page is hosted on Google's servers. Google pre-renders and caches content before anyone clicks on the page in search results.
Thus, a user will be able to see the content in two ways:
- Using Google AMP Viewer, a user lands on your page from the Top Stories carousel. The domain, in this case, is from Google. AMP Viewer acts as a hybrid environment for collecting user data.
- Through Signed Exchange (SXG): A user will see your domain name. This technology allows the browser to treat the document as belonging to the publisher. The content will be provided in addition to the AMP HTML and will be displayed in standard results.
Google AMP is no longer needed to rank in the best stories.
This may seem surprising to many of you and even unbelievable. However, it is true that Google AMP will no longer be a factor in achieving higher search engine rankings. Google made this announcement on April 19, 2021 and it is expected to be activated from mid-June 2021. Here is the statement that Google stated :
The use of the AMP format is no longer necessary and any page, regardless of the score of Core Web Vitals or the page experience status, it will be eligible to appear in the main story carousel.
Since Google AMP is now dead, so Google will no longer show the AMP badge. They made another statement on this point. Here it is :
We will also no longer show the AMP badge icon to indicate AMP content. You can expect this change to come to our products when the page experience update begins rolling out in mid-June
You may be wondering why Google made this decision. Well, let's explain it from our point of view.
Why did Google make this change?
Remember what the reaction of the WordPress / SEO community was after the introduction of Google AMP? It has never been welcomed. Rather, it has been controversial since the day it was introduced and received a great deal of pushback. But Google has kept its decision for years.
AMP has put Google in control of the web and what a website can be. Google has placed itself between the visitor and the site. It took away control and independence from sites that felt compelled to use Google AMP. This has made many of us frustrated.
And it may have played a role in overturning this decision.
Now all sites have a choice. If you want higher rankings and more traffic from search engines, you need to optimize your site for a better, more performing and faster user experience. Google AMP is no longer a requirement to create a fast loading website .
Google still supports AMP
Google AMP pages can and will still be displayed in the Google Top Stories section after this update.
Google noted that it will continue to support AMP after this change is implemented and will continue to link to AMP pages when available.
The main stories section can still include AMP pages, but will not only include AMP pages.
So, if you have an AMP-optimized page, keep that page as it is. However, if you're about to create a new page or content, it doesn't need to be optimized for AMP.
Advantages of AMP
There are 6 potential benefits of using Google's AMP technology.
Page speed increased
AMP itself is not a ranking factor, but thanks to its speed advantage, it greatly benefits your mobile SEO.
According to Littledata, the average mobile page load time in February 2022 was 4,5 seconds. Anything <3 seconds is good mobile page speed and would place you in the top 20% of sites.
However, it's worth remembering that lightning-fast performance is achieved when the AMP page is visited by a Google search. This is because Google caches, optimizes, and validates AMP documents in its AMP Cache, which is essentially a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for AMP pages.
The following image shows a valid AMP page compared to the same URL passed through Google's AMP cache.
Low bounce rate
Bounce rate is directly affected by page speed. The latest data showed that the chance of a bounce increased by 32% when a page's load time went from 1 to 3 seconds. With higher page speed, a user will spend more time on a site and more likely to convert into a customer.
Less use of mobile data
AMP uses less data on 3G and 4G networks. Lighter pages load faster, which is especially critical for mobile users whose connections are slower such as 3G connections, high latency connections, or high packet loss connections. Let's think for example of a connection in an inhabited center with excellent coverage but nevertheless confined to old buildings with very thick walls.
Increased visibility of the SERP
Combined with structured data, AMP pages have a better chance of being displayed in Google search, for example as part of rich results.
Rich snippet example
Note that AMP is not a requirement to appear in the top SERP rankings, but it will send a signal to Google that your page is fast and reliable. Adding structured data will help Google better understand your content and possibly rank it higher.
Scroll to visit
Swipe to Visit uses AMP's prerendering capability to show a preview of the page displayed at the bottom of the screen. If a user wants to scroll up, an entire web page will load immediately and a publisher will receive a page view.
However, in May 2020, Google removed the AMP requirement to appear in Top Stories. The Top Stories ranking will now be determined by the Page Experience update, which is part of Core Web Vitals .
However, according to Newzdash's AMP Tracker, non-AMP results represented only 31% of Top Stories content in the US and UK as of February 22, 2022. This pretty much proves that AMP is still there.
Limitations of the MPA
There are 3 main limitations of AMP.
AMP is a restrictive framework that only allows inline CSS up to 75kB and third party JS up to 150kB, making functionality and engagement with a web page limited.
Mostly, publishers need to use predefined AMP libraries that ensure high speed. Due to this limitation, AMP pages may have a very different “reduced” appearance from their non-AMP equivalent.
Weak brand identity
When users land on your page from Google AMP Viewer, they don't see your webpage URL. The original URL is stored under the info button at the top of the AMP page.
This creates confusion for visitors and also creates an analytical challenge for publishers in identifying where the traffic was coming from.
There are, however, technical solutions to this limitation such as Cloudflare's AMP Real URL which allows you to serve AMP pages from a cache and contain an original URL in your browser's navigation bar.
From a developer's perspective, even simple features, like the submission form, take a lot of work to make AMP compatible, which is typically not a difficult task for a non-AMP page.
Also, just like with a regular page, once your AMP page is up, you'll still need to optimize it to make it SEO-friendly.
AMP supports website monetization. Due to their small size, AMP ads load faster and get higher ad visibility and CPMs for publishers.
However, not all advertising circuits support AMP and not all ads are actually viewable. This is an aspect that must be assessed on a case-by-case basis as, based on the circuit adopted (also alternatives to Google AdSense), better or worse advertising revenues can be obtained.
Should I use AMP?
When Google withdrew AMP from its Top Stories search rankings, many decided that Google AMP is no longer needed. While there is some truth to this, nothing is that simple.
Google continues to support AMP and link to AMP pages whenever possible. AMP's success varies greatly from website to website, but it's impossible to underestimate the obvious SEO benefits for your site.
AMP offers a competitive advantage for the performance metrics of Core Web Vitals and it can even increase the visibility of your search. So, from a business perspective, if you already have an AMP page, you should keep it and keep optimizing it.
On the other hand, many developers believe that it is possible to create fast loading pages without sacrificing functionality. Cloudflare for Mobile is an example of an alternative solution that boasts similar characteristics and speeds to those of AMP.
If you are looking for advice on editorial websites, newspapers or blogs that use or would like to evaluate the use of Google AMP contact us, we will be able to evaluate your specific situation and the relative pros and cons of using AMP on your specific site.