AMP, previously known as Accelerated Mobile Pages and a once-dominant force in the world of mobile web development, has found itself shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty in recent times. Launched in 2015 to deliver faster-than-before mobile experiences, AMP’s star seemed to be on the rise for a while. However, with Google shifting its focus, major publishers migrating away, and questions surrounding its true value, many are now asking, is AMP still relevant?
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What Is the Use of AMP?
Google’s AMP Open Source Project developed AMP as an open-source HTML framework that would aid in creating quick-to-load stripped-down versions of web pages for mobile devices. The aim was to create pages for mobile users that led to higher engagement levels and better experiences. In the past, Google search results pages displayed a lightning bolt symbol next to pages developed using this framework. Even now, some web developers use it to create websites, emails, stories, and ads.
A Brief History of AMP
Upon its launch, AMP aimed to tackle the agonizingly long wait times that plagued mobile websites. By stripping down pages to basic HTML and pre-rendering them on Google’s servers, it delivered rather fast loading speeds. This, coupled with preferential treatment in search results, made AMP a golden ticket for mobile search engine optimization (SEO).
There is no denying AMP’s initial success, and it worked rather well in delivering lightning-fast loading times on mobile devices. This helped enhance user engagement and SEO performance, which is why AMP found favor with web developers, publishers, and marketers alike.
However, cracks began to appear in the years that followed. For example, there were concerns surrounding AMP’s restrictive nature, limited functionality, and the potential for Google to control content. Google’s reassurances of neutrality rang hollow because some felt the platform gave AMP undue leverage.
In 2021, the tide truly turned. Google announced the launch of Core Web Vitals, a new set of metrics that prioritized user experience over raw speed. This effectively shifted the focus from AMP’s stripped-down approach to a more holistic assessment of mobile performance. Major platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn also started migrating away from AMP, further reducing its appeal.
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Is Google AMP Discontinued?
Google has not discontinued AMP and there are no sights to indicate that it might do so anytime soon. Google still supports AMP, and some websites, particularly in news and publishing, continue to utilize this framework.
Why Use Accelerated Mobile Pages?
While the dominance of AMP has waned over the years, it continues to provide some value:
- Improved mobile performance. AMP can be a quick and effective solution for websites struggling with mobile speed. Its stripped-down pages load significantly faster, leading to a better user experience and potentially higher engagement.
- SEO advantages. While no longer a direct ranking factor, AMP pages can still appear in the coveted Top Stories carousel on Google Search, which brings with it the potential to increase organic traffic.
- Evolving landscape. Google continues to invest in AMP, recently announcing AMP for Email and Web Stories.
Why Not to Use Google AMP?
While AMP continues to offer a few benefits, it comes with its fair share of shortcomings too. For instance, Google’s retired ranking systems played a key role in AMP’s downward trajectory. Other drawbacks include:
- Creative constraints. The stripped-down nature of AMP restricts design flexibility and functionality. This can have an adverse effect on user experience, engagement, and brand consistency.
- Limited functionality. AMP’s restrictive nature limits features and functionalities when compared to standard HTML. This can have a negative impact on user engagement and conversion rates, and if this happens, it would outweigh any potential SEO benefits.
- Potential SEO risks. Google’s de-emphasis on AMP has led to concerns about its long-term SEO viability.
- Maintenance overhead. Maintaining two versions of your website, one for mobile users and another for people who use desktops/laptops, adds complexity and maintenance overhead. This can be a burden, especially for smaller websites.
- Core Web Vitals. Now, the focus has shifted to optimizing websites for Core Web Vitals, which encompasses metrics like loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. Many modern web development frameworks and content management systems already prioritize these factors, making AMP’s speed advantage less significant.
- Loss of preferential treatment. Google has downplayed AMP’s role in search ranking, clearly stating that well-performing mobile websites will see no benefit from AMP implementation.
Is AMP Still Relevant?
There is no simple answer to this question, and determining whether AMP is still relevant depends on your specific needs and priorities.
- AMP might work as a good temporary solution for websites that struggle with mobile loading speed and lack the resources to carry out in-depth optimization.
- Publishers who rely heavily on traffic from Google might benefit from using AMP Web Stories.
- If your website already performs well in terms of Core Web Vitals, AMP will offer little to no added benefit.
- If your target audience accesses your content primarily through social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn that no longer support AMP, it’s probably not worth your while.
You also need to remember that implementing and maintaining AMP requires additional resources and technical expertise, and you need to establish if it aligns with your team’s capabilities and budget at the very onset.
Are Accelerated Mobile Pages Worth It Even Now?
If your website’s accelerated mobile pages are working well, there’s no reason to do away with them as of now. Online publishers, in particular, might want to hang on to their AMPs to avoid risking their performance in the Top Stories carousel. If you plan to build a new website, you may steer clear of using AMP, as this will require creating separate URLs that you might, in all likelihood, need to disable and redirect later. Instead, you should look at the benefits of responsive web design and focus on Core Web Vitals.
Do You Need to Turn Off Google AMP?
Given that the limitations of AMP have become increasingly apparent, many website owners are deciding to ditch this framework completely. However, it’s important to assess your situation before making a decision. Keeping yourself updated on the evolving AMP landscape is a good idea as this enables you to adapt your approach accordingly. Asking yourself a few simple questions can give you the means to determine the best way forward.
- Do you still rely on AMP for SEO? If your website relies heavily on AMP for search visibility, removing them abruptly might lead to a temporary dip in traffic.
- Do you have a large AMP infrastructure? If you need to dismantle a well-established AMP setup, the process can be resource-intensive, and it would require careful planning and execution.
- Have you optimized your core pages for mobile? You need to ensure that you’ve optimized your non-AMP pages for loading speed on mobile devices as well as Core Web Vitals before removing AMP.
How to Disable Google AMP?
If you’ve decided you disable Google AMP, you get two basic unplugging strategies from which to choose.
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- Disable the AMP plugin. If you’re using an AMP plugin, this is the simplest approach. However, this leaves behind residual AMP code that you’ll need to clean up.
- Implement server-side redirects. This involves automatically redirecting your website’s users from AMP to non-AMP pages.
- Update internal linking. You need to avoid broken links by ensuring that all internal links point to your non-AMP pages.
- Monitor traffic and SEO: Keep an eye on your website’s traffic and search engine rankings to make sure that the transition takes place without any glitches.
- Delete all AMP files and code. This step involves removing all AMP traces from your website permanently.
- Update robots.txt. Doing this informs search engines of the removal of AMP pages from your website.
- Submit removal requests. Then, you need to use Google Search Console to request removal of indexed AMP pages.
- Expect fluctuations. It is normal to experience temporary traffic dips and SEO changes while search engines adjust to your non-AMP website.
No matter which of the two options you choose to turn off Google AMP, it’s important to monitor your website’s traffic and SEO performance after the removal. This will give you the means to assess the impact of the change and make any necessary adjustments.
Going forward, you will need to rethink your SEO strategy by shifting your focus to your non-AMP pages and optimizing them for relevant keywords. Bear in mind that removing AMPs requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing maintenance. However, once you understand the reasons behind the decline of AMPs and choose the right removal strategy, you get to reclaim control of your website and optimize it for the ever-evolving mobile landscape.
The Future of AMP
What the future holds for AMP remains uncertain, but it’s clear its days of dominance are behind us now. Google’s focus on Core Web Vitals and the rise of alternative solutions like progressive web apps (PWAs) present new challenges.
While AMP’s domination has faded, its underlying principles of speed and efficient content delivery remain relevant. Besides, Google has hinted at future developments that might integrate AMP’s strengths with a more flexible and open approach. However, the future of AMP hinges on its ability to adapt to the evolving landscape and address past concerns surrounding control and functionality.
Given where things stand, the future of AMP seems to lie beyond its core functionality. After all, the AMP Project continues to explore new avenues. These include, but do not limit to:
- Web Stories. It’s already possible to leverage AMP’s underlying technology for creating engaging web stories, and this format is gaining traction on social media and news platforms.
- Progressive web apps. Integrating AMP with PWAs can offer a seamless user experience, combining the speed of AMP with the interactivity of PWAs.
- Open-source development. By embracing open-source development, the AMP Project can foster a more collaborative environment, potentially addressing past criticisms about its closed nature.
If Not AMP, What?
If you’re ready to ditch AMP and explore other options, you need to start by focusing on your website’s performance across all types of devices. This requires optimizing your Core Web Vitals. You should also consider investing in image optimization, code minification, and efficient caching for fast loading times and good user experiences.
Embrace Progressive Web Apps
PWAs offer app-like features such as offline access, push notifications, and home screen installation, while remaining accessible through any browser. Built with responsive design principles, PWAs seamlessly adapt to any screen size.
Leverage Service Workers and Pre-Caching:
Service workers refer to small pieces of code that run in the background, intercepting network requests and caching content for offline access. This dramatically improves page load times, especially for repeat visitors. On the other hand, pre-caching specific resources like images and scripts ensures they’re readily available when needed, further enhancing user experience.
Consider Server-Side Rendering
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Check AMP Alternatives
Several frameworks aim to address AMP’s shortcomings while offering similar speed benefits. Some of the top alternatives include:
- Nachos UI
- React Native Basic UI
- Hum Framework
All said and done, AMP’s core strength, lightning-fast mobile performance, is still valuable. If it can adapt to evolving needs, address its limitations, and find new integrations beyond Google Search, there’s a possibility it might carve out a niche in the future mobile web development. Ultimately, the choice of using AMP is yours. Weigh its pros and cons carefully, analyze your specific needs, and make an informed decision based on what serves your audience and your website’s goals best.
If you don’t have a website yet, there’s no real reason for you to go the AMP way. Instead, you should get a responsive website that delivers good user experiences on all types of devices. If you’re unsure about which path to follow, discussing your needs, predicaments, and goals with a reputable web design agency might be in your best interest.