Here’s a good and rare one for you. A positive story from a Google Update! A real opportunity for some site owners to save resources and even make running your site less complex.
I’ve been writing a lot recently about Google updates. There is the argument that only SEOs are interested in Google updates. And it may be persuasive, but wait until you get bitten by one 😉 OK, OK. It’s my role as an SEO to be ready if something goes wrong. That’s one of the things my clients pay me for.
But this issue is more than a bit of Technical SEO obscurity. I’m writing about AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) because I’ve been asked about it several times. So I thought I’d share my thoughts here, on my blog.
A little-noticed part of the Page Experience Update
In addition, the Top Stories carousel feature on Google Search will be updated to include all news content, as long as it meets the Google News policies. This means that using the AMP format is no longer required and that any page, irrespective of its Core Web Vitals score or page experience status, will be eligible to appear in the Top Stories carousel. (My italics)
We’re also bringing similar updates to the Google News app, a key destination for users around the world to get a comprehensive view of the important news of the day. As part of the page experience update, we’re expanding the usage of non-AMP content to power the core experience on news.google.com and in the Google News app.
Additionally, we will no longer show the AMP badge icon to indicate AMP content. You can expect this change to come to our products as the page experience update begins to roll out in mid-June. We’ll continue to test other ways to help identify content with a great page experience, and we’ll keep you updated when there is more to share.More time, tools, and details on the page experience update, Google
Many SEOs hated AMP
In many corners of the SEO world, AMP was a dirty abbreviation. People argued that Google’s intention to encourage website owners to have their sites load faster for mobile users became a command to adopt AMP. And AMP is Google’s own standard.
The detractors argued that’s another step away from the open, neutral web towards one dictated by the needs of Google’s advertising revenues. Some news site publishers even felt they were being held hostage by Google.
An update that lets you do less rather than dictates you do more
Getting back on track, Google is telling you that you can forget AMP if you wish.
This gives you two possible positives:
- If you have AMP, you can stop supporting it. You can get your developers to switch it off and spend your AMP budget on something more valuable, such as content 😉
- If you don’t have AMP, you can stop considering if you need it. You don’t. And what you would have spent on AMP can be spent on something more valuable, such as content 😉
There’s a But. There normally is
Appropriately implemented, AMP gives a great User Experience (not the one Google is trying to measure through Core Web Vitals, but the one users actually have). It’s blisteringly fast.
And because it’s blisteringly fast:
- Bounce rate should be lower as people can engage with your content rather than skip off somewhere else, bored with the blank screen as your page sorts itself out before appearing to its public
- Longer time on page because it’s easy to move around, and page elements usually appear logically
- Higher sales. A user that stays on your site is one you can sell to. If they go somewhere else (see above), they’re not buying from you
- Less tangible, perhaps, but a great user experience can do no harm at all to your brand
Is this the beginning of the end for AMP?
We are almost certainly seeing the beginning of the end for AMP. There’s an opportunity for all website owners to rank where AMP was previously the entry pass. You can now choose to save resources by moving away from your AMP pages.
All good. But just because Google has opened its news carousel to non-AMP pages, it doesn’t take AMP’s core benefits away. So if you’re already using AMP and your AMP pages are faster than your non-AMP pages, there’s still an argument for keeping them.
And, one last thing, there’s Bento a project that aims to ‘use AMP components anywhere and everywhere’. We’ll have to see where that one goes.
Crazy fast pages without AMP
My view may be a bit purist, but it’s a mistake to continue with AMP because it’s fast while leaving your non-AMP (main site) pages to lumber onto your customers’ screens. Your main site’s pages should be fast because, for a starter, there are the advantages of fast pages, above.
My interpretation of what happened in June is that Google expects non-AMP pages to have the same high performance as AMP pages. Think about that.
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A version of this blog post appeared first in David Rosam’s Digital Marketing Thing, the precursor of David Rosam on Digital Marketing.
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David Rosam has been working online for more than 25 years, after a career in direct marketing copywriting for the tech and financial services industries.
Today, he specialises in Content-Focused Search Engine Optimisation—from audits, through research and strategy to implementation.
He was probably the UK’s first SEO Copywriter.