AMP Pages: Google sums up history and benefits
In 2015 “mobile Web was not in a good position“: this opens a new post by Google to describe the benefits of AMP pages, the framework launched about five years ago precisely to make browsing from mobile devices better. The context has completely changed – today smartphones have become the main tool with which to access the Net – and the progress has been numerous, also thanks to this technology, of which Google lists the main benefits that can push sites to adopt AMP.
The origins of the AMP project
The article signed by Rudy Galfi, Product Manager of Search, starts with the description of the state of the mobile Web in 2015: “The analysis of more than 10 thousand mobile domains showed that the average loading time for sites was 19 seconds on 3G connections”, and this led to the emergence of “new proprietary mobile Web formats when companies that distributed content looked for new ways to keep their products interesting, asking publishers to use them”.
This, however, opened up a number of problems and, in particular, publishers were concerned because – already short of resources – they would not be able to “keep up with a pattern of every company that invented its new format”.
A unique and shared framework
After discussions with European publishers, Google decided to collaborate “with the industry to create a new format, web-based and working for a wide variety of platforms”.
To characterize the project also other milestones: this format would have “left to the publisher the freedom to choose their own tools (such as content management systems, analysis, video players and advertising platforms), to maintain their own unique page designs, host content on their servers and monetize in the preferred way with paywalls, ads or both”.
Moreover, it would have been “open source and extensible, so that new features could be introduced by anyone, platform and publisher alike”.
A jump back in time
And that is how the Accelerated Mobile Pages – or AMP – project was created, an open source initiative launched five years ago in Google along with other technology companies and members of the web community: In fact, over a thousand developers around the world – including companies like Twitter, Pinterest, Yahoo and Bing – are contributing time and resources to improve AMP.
In 2018, AMP launched a new governance model, transferring ownership of the project to the Openjs Foundation a year later, recalls the piece. These changes “have helped to open the development of PMI to more publishers through the Advisory Committee and the Technical Steering Committee of PMI, and today anyone can participate in a PMI working group to help shape the future of the project”.
AMP pages are open and exist regardless of Google
Google firmly believes that “AMP played a positive role in reversing trends that at the time made it so difficult for publishers to gain exceptional user experiences: the evolution of the AMP project over the past five years, from enhancing the product’s capabilities to joining the Openjs Foundation, it has helped us to continue working with the information industry and to provide significant value to publishers,” says Galfi.
Yet, there are still several misunderstandings and false myths about AMP and “we want to make things clear”, starting with the relationship between Google and AMP, one of the “historical” critical points of the framework.
How AMP works
First, the article clarifies “exactly how AMP works”: accelerated pages “are not blocked in Google products and behave like any other page on the open Web”.
So, they can be directly visited, linked and scanned, and are used by a wide variety of search engines – Bing, Google and Yahoo Japan! all connect to AMP pages – but social platforms like Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest also use the format to direct their users to a reliable and fast loading experience.
Furthermore, AMP pages “do not divert traffic from other websites to Google’s advantage”. Just to stay with the news industry, “we direct more than 24 billion clicks a month to news sites”, Galfi reveals, “and each visit is an opportunity for a publisher to show ads or convert an occasional reader into a loyal subscriber”.
Publishers have full control on pages
Another key word to understand the benefits of AMP is “control“, which is fully in the hands of publishers, who can handle “almost every aspect, from the presentation of content to the underlying monetization strategy of their page”contrary to what many believe.
Moreover, publishers also decide “how they want to appear on Google, decide the length of the short summary (called snippets) of their content and can add or remove images or videos“. The Googler recalls that “there are no license fees for AMP and all traffic data goes directly to the publisher”, which can “collect the same data as any other web page using most of the standard tools available – today 80 analytics providers support AMP”.
It is true that “Google collects and uses additional data to submit AMP documents, but only for the purpose of using Google’s AMP cache and AMP viewer: Google AMP cache data allows us to record the documents requested by it and verify that the cache works normally, while the AMP viewer data allows us to optimize the viewing experience of the pages shown”.
Galfi continues: “AMP offers publishers the same ability to create direct relationships with readers of any web page”, recalling that thanks to the “Collaboration with 3P paywall publishers and providers, project contributors have devised a solution to allow publishers to integrate AMP into their existing subscription strategies without compromising page speed or user experience”. In addition, “contributors constantly add features to bring interactive features to AMP articles, which allow publishers to interact further with their audience”.
Rules to comply with
Overall, “AMP supports 240 different advertising networks and gives publishers the flexibility to choose how they want to monetize”.
Being “intentionally designed to provide users with high quality experiences“, there are some “user-centred rules guiding the operation of content and advertising on the AMP page”.
An example is “the type of ads that can be displayed and the way they are displayed to avoid slow loading times”, and Galfi recalls that “AMP does not support popup ads because they are intrusive and create a negative user experience”.
AMP and ranking on Google: it is not a factor, but it can help
There is also another old cliché to debunk, that the AMP pages have a “privileged lane” in terms of ranking on Google; instead, the Search Product Manager reiterates that “regarding the classification in Google search results, AMP pages are treated like any other HTML page on the Web”.
In fact, Galfi is even clearer: “AMP has never been a ranking factor in organic search results on Google” and the only exclusive advantage was that only “pages created using AMP could be included in the Top Stories Carousel feature in Google Search, to ensure that users can easily find fast-loading pages and scroll from story to story”but as we know the privilege will fall on the occasion of the passage of the Google Page Experience Update.
From May 2021, in fact, the function of the Stories in evidence will be open “to all content that meets Google News content standards and the priority will go to pages with an excellent page experience, implemented using AMP or any other web technology, the same way we will rank the results”. Precisely for this reason doubts have arisen about the pros and cons of AMP in an SEO perspective, and many question the future of the framework (which, in part, this article tries to clarify).
Google and AMP support an open, lively and healthy Web
In conclusion, Rudy Galfi points out that Google is committed in “supporting a vibrant and healthy open web”, as evidenced by funding “to open-source projects that are vital to web sustainability or our most recent efforts around the Core Web Vitals, which provide a unified guide to quality signals that are essential to deliver a great user experience”.
The Californian company creates “technology that provides useful user experiences, offers value to publishers and creators and helps the wider Web”, and AMP is “a fundamental part of our commitment to these values, a product that we constantly work to improve together with the wider online community”.