Is AMP Still Relevant? a Quick Guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages, or Google AMP, made quite the splash when the system was introduced in 2016. Many large sites immediately made the shift, and the search engine made it clear that AMP was here to stay. Over the past few years, AMP gained significant notoriety, and in 2021, the trademark lightning bolt icon quietly disappeared.
Is Google AMP still relevant? Should you still be using the system in 2021? In this article, we’re going to look at the following points:
- What Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are.
- Whether you should use Google AMP for your website.
- The recent changes that have affected the need for the system.
- The latest update and focus of Google’s algorithm.
Let’s start with a quick look at AMP pages, what they are, and how they work.
What Are AMP Pages?
AMP is an open-source coding project created by Google. The system was designed to strip pages down to the barest essentials to provide fast-loading mobile pages. Since Google stored the cached pages directly on their servers, content could be delivered almost immediately.
Unfortunately, this meant that key features like videos, share buttons, animations, ads, and scripts would all be removed, affecting your site’s look, feel, and function.
Source: Google AMP
Should You Still Use Google Amp?
Google AMP wasn’t popular to begin with, but it did help publishers earn higher search and Top Stories ranks while improving website loading times. However, the cons didn’t win the service many points. Here are a few of the common issues:
- Without WordPress, implementing the code was a complex exercise that required a technical resource with development experience.
- AMP pages show fewer ads, which boosts speed but can affect your revenue generation and income.
- Since the AMP site will sit on Google’s servers, not your own, you can’t accurately use analytics, track traffic, or get insights from your website.
- AMP strips a lot of code elements, which means you have far less control over the look and feel of your site.
- AMP also removes or affects the code for forms, downloadables, and social sharing buttons, which can significantly impact your lead generation. One case study showed a 59% drop in leads.
In short, the cons always outweighed the benefits. However, many sites still took the time and effort to implement the system. Why are publishers turning away from the platform now? The AMP exodus is primarily due to two specific changes.
No Longer Required to Rank in Top Stories
Many website owners felt like hostages that were being forced to use Google AMP in exchange for more traffic and the possibility of earning a spot in the Top Stories carousel. However, as of the June 2021 page experience update, AMP is no longer required, and all pages will be eligible to appear in the carousel.
In short, if you meet Google’s news policies, you’ll be eligible to appear in Top Stories – no AMP pages required. Additionally, the AMP badge icon is also being removed, which means users can’t use it to associate your website with improved mobile speed. Essentially, Google did away with the one benefit that made so many sites adopt the system.
Refocused Priority on Page Experience
The June 2021 “Page Experience” update is affecting more than just Google AMP pages. The search algorithm will now consider specific page experience signals, including the three Core Web Vitals metrics. According to Google, their vision is to build a better web ecosystem that users will love to use.
With this redirected focus, you no longer need to use AMP to earn a better search rank. Instead, it’s more important to focus on your Web Vitals score and SEO to build long-term success.
The most significant benefit of Google AMP used to be preferential search ranking. However, with the implementation of Core Web Vitals and the renewed focus on user experience, AMP pages are no longer worth the time and effort. That’s especially true if you own a large and heavily branded or monetized website.
Instead, focus on bringing your website in line with the new Web Vitals requirements. Combined with good SEO practices, publishers no longer need to yield to the demands of Google AMP.