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The end of AMP- Accelerated Mobile Pages

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Google has been pushing the mobile-optimized framework of its Accelerated mobile pages, or AMP, since 2015, for example by exclusively populating its Top Stories widget with AMP results. Now the company has announced that non-AMP pages will also be included in the Top Stories Widget in the mobile search results. Despite its stated aim to make the mobile web faster, Google currently seems to be placing more importance on its new ranking factor from 2021 –Page Experience. Does this mean the end of the AMP framework?

What is AMP- Accelerated Mobile Pages?

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Page. It’s an open-source framework with a focus on fast loading times for mobile websites. Its characteristic features include JavaScript and CSS elements. AMP pages are hosted on Google servers, making Google the host.

Since its launch back on 2015, Google has been pushing AMP technology to decrease the loading times for pages on the mobile web. Most publishers now have an AMP page version set up, but many other website types, for example, eCommerce sites still don’t use AMP technology. AMP pages have been pushed to the top on mobile search results as Top Stories, a SERP feature that previously included AMP results, currently, around 80% of all mobile standard organic Top10 search results contain at least one AMP.

Google isn’t the only search engine that is pushing a dedicated mobile framework to display their mobile search queries, Bing began showing AMP results sometime in 2018, Yandex and Baidu have their own AMP derivatives: at Yandex, they are called Turbo Pages, and at Baidu, Mobile Index Pages.

Google has not yet decided on the future of AMP

Google still insists that AMP is not a direct ranking factor, nevertheless, all AMP sites can be loaded onto Google’s server and therefore displayed more quickly and they are marked with a signature lightning bolt icon in the search results. If users click more on these results, interacting more with AMP sites that lad much faster, the user signals for the results page will improve, giving them a boost in the rankings.

Another great advantage of AMAP sites, especially for publishers, was that only AMP results were listed on the mobile Top Stories widget. This is no longer the case since Google announced its new Page Experience ranking factor at the end of May 202, it removed AMP as a condition for considering search results for its Top Stories. Google provided a full explanation on this link.

Google can’t make up their mind when it comes to establishing new standards and technologies

This isn’t the first case when Google has tried to establish new technology or web standard on the market and failed. Previously they tried introducing the rel=next/prev markup back in 2011, it allowed websites to flag individual URLs as part of larger sets of pages. When asked about it, John Mueller from Google explained in a tweet in 2019 that the company had not been using re=next/prev for some time.

Another example is Google Authorships – which was initially made so authors could link their work to their Google+ profile.  The author’s image was then displayed in the search results. However, this led to an overflow of images making search results for news topics look more like a social media network.

AMP is still only being used by publishers

We will see if AMP will join the ranks of Google’s other failed standards, although AMP is widely used by publishers, it was never really able to gain a foothold on the rest of the web, especially in the eCommerce sector.

Will Page Experience replace AMP?

The future of AMP is unclear. However, providing a fast yet smooth user experience on mobile devices still seems to be an important priority for Google. This can be seen in Page Experience, the new Ranking factor launched at the beginning of 2021 that is based primarily on aspects relating to page speed that google refers to as Core Web Vitals.

The new Page Experience ranking factor will include the following key factors:

  • Load Speed (‘Largest Contentful Paint’ factor from Core Web Vitals)
  • Responsiveness (‘First Input Delay’ from Core Web Vitals)
  • Visual Layout Stability (‘Cumulative Layout Shift’ from Core Web Vitals)
  • Mobile Friendly URL
  • Safe and Clean Website Code (Safe Browsing with no Malware)
  • Use of HTTPS Encryption
  • No Intrusive Interstitials

After publishing the details about the new Page Experience ranking factor, Google published several blog posts about how helpful AMP can be in achieving decent values for Core Web Vitals and Page Experience. In these posts, Google mentions how AMO can help website owners meet the recommended performance targets determined by Core Web Vitals and Page Experience.

Final thoughts – Should you use AMP?

Website owners that have not yet implemented an AMP version of their website should now focus on improving the mobile user experience of their websites. Google’s Page Experience and the new Core Web Vitals are the new key metrics when it comes to ranking factors. If you are an eCommerce website owner, you would be better off investing in a Progressive Web App. This ensures a good user experience, for example by precaching websites a user is more likely to click on next.

If you are already using AMP, you should continue to develop it. Google has assured users that it will continue to support the AMP framework and might even give AMP pages a small boost sometime in the future

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