Whether or not Google has fiddled with AMP, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate its use.


As soon as Google announced that its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework would no longer be required to appear in the Top Stories section of its search results, SEOs working with publishers began to consider more ad revenue opportunities without sacrifice the traffic that Top Stories could bring. . However, some publishers may feel “stuck” with the framework due to lack of development resources or other factors.

But, in light of recently unredacted allegations by 17 state attorneys general accusing Google of strangling non-AMP ads in order to give AMP a “good comparative boost,” publishers who still use AMP may raise a question. eyebrow of suspicion. “We’ve all known for a long time that AMP was Google’s attempt to impose its own paradigm on the web, a way of trying to control the chaos and establish its own methods as a standard way of doing things.” said Barry Adams, independent SEO consultant and co-founder of News and Editorial SEO Summit, “These latest claims, if true, show just how far Google greed can get, that it would artificially penalize websites that don’t use Google’s preferred approach, “he said, citing 2018 accusations that Google slowed down YouTube for Firefox users as a precedent for such conduct.

While the claims have huge implications, the point is, until proven in the courts, search marketers simply won’t know if they are true. Nonetheless, the page experience update is now fully rolled out and we have a clearer idea of ​​the possibilities and tradeoffs without AMP.

Considerations for discontinuing MPA

“If these claims are true, it would be morally wrong on Google’s side,” said Daniel Smullen, SEO manager at Mediahuis IRL, “But, let’s be honest, most publishers have adopted AMP because of its eligibility criteria. Top Stories. Not because of its “perceived” speed-boosting effect. ”Top Stories give publishers greater visibility in search results, which can potentially attract more traffic than a search listing standard. “If there was ever an anti-trust element in the AMP, it was this,” Smullen added.

But AMP is no longer required for Top Stories. AMP became a requirement to appear in the Top Stories carousel in 2016. Last year, Google announced that AMP would no longer be required for its Top Stories section, opening it to pages that perform well in terms of scores. page experience.

While updating the page experience didn’t have the impact some SEOs were expecting (Google did to say that “sites generally shouldn’t expect drastic changes”), non-AMP pages now appear in the Top Stories section: As of October 27, 2021, non-AMP URLs accounted for 24.6% of Top Stories content in United States, according to Newzdash AMP Tracker tool. In some countries this ratio can be much higher – in the Netherlands it was 80.9% on the same date.

Know your Vitals. Your current user experience should be taken into account when evaluating whether to maintain, discontinue, or adopt AMP. “In my opinion, if publishers fail the three Core Web Vitals metrics and care about competing on search, continuing with AMP, from a business perspective, may make more sense,” Smullen said.

“Moz, in his recent page experience ranking factor study, showed that passing all three Core Web Vitals metrics did not add a sufficiently significant advantage over passing two of the metrics, ”he said. A SISTRIX study also found that pages that meet all three CWV requirements rank just 1% better than the average for all domains, but pages that fail at least one CWV metric rank 3.7% lower. (according to the SISTRIX visibility index).

While passing all of the CWV metrics does not guarantee inclusion in the Top Stories section, it can act as a “tie-break” when your content performs similarly to your competition based on other factors. classification. And, “[It is] It is important to note that the failure of all three suggested a cushioning effect of the standings, ”added Smullen.

Income considerations. “We have to weigh the pros and cons of having a website that relies on advertising for revenue that sometimes doesn’t give us the [performance] metrics we’d like, ”Matt Dorville, SEO manager at BuzzFeed, told Search Engine Land shortly after the announcement. Lack of AMP may allow publishers to pursue more ad revenue opportunities, but they will need to weigh that revenue against potentially longer load times for serving these ads.

Internal bandwidth. Improving your user experience to the point that you can compete with other publishers who might use AMP may fall back on your developers, who may already be on their knees: “It’s been a really, really tough time to prioritize. some things, like the tickets for our site that are going to help speed, that will help things in the page experience ”, but at the same time we have less engineers, we have less bandwidth, we have less staff to go and do it, ”Dorville said, noting that some publishers may operate with smaller staff and tighter budgets due to the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Major changes to the site. Conversely, major changes to the site, such as a redesign or switching to another CMS, can make maintaining the AMP more difficult. “For publishers who are already up and running on AMP, I think the decision point will be when the site undergoes a major overhaul,” said previously Matthew Brown, general manager of MJBLabs and former director of research strategy for New York. Times. , “Then the costs of updating everything to AMP start to look less favorable as it is no longer a requirement for Top Stories.”

For some, AMP may still be a viable alternative

There are many push-and-pull factors to consider when deciding whether to stay with AMP or get rid of it. AMP generally provides a dynamic page for your users, and “[It] offers strong out-of-the-box page experience scores for publishers once their AMP code meets “Google” standards, Smullen said. AMP Cache. “

An example of a valid AMP page compared to the same code passed through Google’s AMP cache. Image Title: Daniel Smullen.

“This is where Google, on its own servers, further optimizes the publisher’s valid AMP code,” he said. . “

But as always, test before you dive

At this point, no claims against Google have yet been proven in court. However, while it makes sense for your post to start investing in user experience instead of maintaining AMP, “I recommend doing it section by section, starting with the relatively low-traffic sections of the site, to see what the impact on traffic is, ”Adams recommended,“ The case studies we’ve seen so far suggest that removing AMP, when done right, does not result in any significant loss. of traffic, providing the essentials of the website (for non-AMP articles) are pretty healthy. And even a small loss of traffic is probably worth it when removing AMP, due to the increased monetization of non-AMP articles.

About the Author

George Nguyen is an editor for Search Engine Land, covering organic search, podcasting, and e-commerce. His background is in journalism and content marketing. Before entering the industry, he worked as a radio personality, writer, podcast host and teacher in a public school.

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