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Changes To Google AMP: Just The Facts

August 3, 2020 Sarah Cavill

Google announced recent changes to usage of accelerated mobile pages (AMP), previously required for inclusion in the mobile version of Google’s top stories carousel. The move could lead some publishers to drop AMP, but experts are divided on whether publishers should move away from the fussy AMP framework or hold steady because of revenue and ranking benefits.

What Are The Changes To Google AMP?

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In May, Google released “a new page experience update and along with this Google will no longer require AMP for the mobile version of the top stories section in Google search.” AMP, an open source framework created to load web pages faster on mobile devices, was introduced by Google just five years ago. AMP is the latest Google feature likely to become irrelevant with the introduction of a new approach by Google, in this case the page experience factors, which will now be the main ranking tool for Google mobile. 

What Is Page Experience?

Search Engine Land calls page experience a more “holistic and sophisticated approach to (mobile) ranking.” Page experience is a more in-depth look at all the moving parts that go into the success of a web page. Google explains, “Page experience is a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value. It [page experience] includes Core Web Vitals, which is a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity and visual stability of the page. It also includes existing [Google] Search signals: mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS and intrusive interstitial guidelines.”

Brands that choose to do away with AMP will need strong page experience scores to land in mobile top stories. 

Does AMP Offer Benefits To Publishers?

According to Search Engine Land, recent studies found that faster load times for web pages, even 0.1 second speed improvement, does make a difference for a number of website performance factors, including page views and conversion rates (see chart).

Additionally, an AMP-impact study with publishers and ecommerce sites found

  • 27.1% increase in organic traffic
  • 33.8% increase in search engine results page (SERP) impressions
  • 15.3% higher SERP click-through rates

Brands will have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of keeping AMP, considering the benefits AMP historically offered. However, with Google changing its policy for top-ranking pages, moving away from AMP and instead leveraging page experience to prioritize pages, the AMP performance metrics will likely fall closer in line to other top-performing pages.

Why Is The Change To Google AMP Relevant For Digital Marketers?

While some experts believe that holding on to AMP for the revenue and rankings it may offer is a good idea, as least for the foreseeable future, other industry insiders believe publishers should forgo AMP all together, and instead optimize for page experience factors. Without AMP determining page rank, there may be increased competition for the top SERP spots, but publishers who effectively optimize their mobile sites and develop smart, engaging content, should benefit from the shift away from AMP.

Testing should be a fundamental part of any decisions made regarding whether to use or not use AMP pages. “I think what’s going to happen is eventually people are just going to test by putting the canonical on their mobile site,” said Matt Dorville, SEO manager at BuzzFeed. Adding, “After that, if they see that there is not a drop in the amount of traffic that they’re getting from Top Stories, then they’re just going to make the shift and just let [AMP] go.” And, any publisher that isn’t satisfied with their traffic after dropping Google’s AMP framework can continue using it. 

The new Google page experience update and Google AMP changes won’t go into effect until 2021.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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