Are Google AMPs Affecting the Web for Better or for Worse?

26 Jul 2018

What is Google AMP?

Google has always valued site loading speed as well as mobile optimization and even prioritizes them among the deciding factors in its recent algorithms for Search Engine Result Page (SERP). With the number of mobile devices accessing the web increasing exponentially on a daily basis and the majority of them connecting through limited bandwidth, viewing content from heavier websites can be an exasperating task. To handle this situation, it has become necessary to develop and deploy a solution, which not only answers the aforementioned issues but also does not compromise user experience in the process.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project has come a long way, since its conceptualization on October 2015 by Google. Setting a uniform structure for developing mobile pages which boast lightning fast loading speed, AMPs are Google’s answer to alternate Content Management Systems (CMS) such as Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple’s News. With AMPs being open source in nature, there is immense support available for developers to build their own pages and verify conformity to standards. The AMP framework itself is somewhat restrictive in nature though; as it disables certain features that may compromise loading speed e.g. JavaScript, ads, etc. For the webpage to be recognized as an AMP, it should fulfill all prerequisites and be hosted with Google. Since the web pages have a responsive design, they load swiftly and display the necessary content under reduced bandwidth. AMPs have been very successful in providing a feasible solution to numerous websites.

Purpose of AMPs

Google, being the largest search engine on the web, continually processes and categorizes data to ensure it becomes available for users across the web. While doing so, it has profited immeasurably from advertisements and is devising new strategies to remain at the top of the tier. CMS such as Apple’s News and Facebook’s Instant Articles are in direct conflict of interest with Google since they redirect users towards their end for viewing content, which reduces traffic for Google.

While the users of both platforms are contained within their walls, Google AMPs provide an alternative approach where users are able to develop their optimized web pages and have priority ratings in searches on that basis. However, the rules behind it remain pretty much the same since it requires hosting on Google infrastructure and following their regulations.

AMP Framework

The main objective behind AMP framework is to reduce site-loading speed while retaining core functionality of the page. The entire structure can be broken down into the following subcategories:

  1. AMP HTML

Although AMP does borrow heavily from HTML, it presents itself as a modified version with the addition of new tags or adjustments to existing ones. The element design facilitates the creation of new web pages so that they are optimized for mobile and provide the satisfactory user experience.

  1. AMP JS

Designed to enhance AMP performance, the JS library provides all the necessary tags and features for development. The most prominent benefit it has to offer is the ability to load incoming data from external resources in real time, meaning the page itself does not hang under any circumstance.

  1. Google AMP Cache

The Google AMP caches the HTML pages within its CDN in order to increase site-loading speed and loads them from a single source utilizing HTTP 2.0. It also provides authentication to whether the site is in accord with AMP requirements and displays errors in browser console to show the effects of code modifications.

Procedural Working of AMPs

By design, AMP follows a simplistic yet effective procedure for facilitating user searches.

  1. Google web crawlers scan the target website.
  2. The crawler identifies a link to AMP for the site.
  3. Google caches the static webpage on its servers.
  4. The AMP version of the site is displayed against user query searches or on Google cards.


Advantages of AMPs

AMP technology benefits the entire web and provides solutions to many existing problems.

  1. Significant Reduction in Website Loading Time

AMP pages are stripped of elements, which may cause excessive loading time and displays only the core features presented in a streamlined framework. For any users looking to quickly view content under both hardware and bandwidth constraints, AMPs are a savior.

  1. Boosting Mobile Rankings

Google has started favoring mobile-friendly pages considerably and even ranks sites with responsive web design higher than those lacking it. Since Google inspects every performance elements of a site, a boost in loading time consequently has a positive effect on SERP rankings.

  1. Reduction in Server Load

Since Google caches site data on its own servers before presenting them to users, it reduces the stress on website hosting servers and improves the user experience for incoming traffic.

Disadvantages of AMPs

Although the main purpose of AMPs is to deliver greater usability for web users, it is a technology under continuous development and has its downsides too.

  1. Advertisement Restrictions

AMPs severely reduce the integration of ads on web pages, which drastically reduces revenue generation for the site owners. The AMP rules are strict on ads since they contribute towards site loading time and offer no real features without which the page cannot function. Although they can be added under AMP rules, the whole process is rather restrictive in nature. Since Google servers directly host the ads, Google itself has control over them.

  1. Caching Drawback

While caching does reduce site speed, the entire data is now stored on Google servers and they have complete access to it. Traffic directed though AMPs is actually Google traffic, which means they can directly monitor user behavior. While it does raise privacy issues, Google has been careful not to break any rules, and currently working towards a solution for this traffic problem.

  1. Restrictions on Site Content

Site owners cannot breach any predefined rules concerning AMPs, which means the final viewable design for the website is entirely under the control of Google.

  1. E-commerce Pages Bear the Brunt

AMP does not support dynamic elements which are critical for certain segments of an eCommerce website, such as shopping carts. For enabling these features, the potential leads have to be redirected towards the older site versions where such elements are still supported. These redirects reduce credibility and ultimately result in cart abandonment.

  1. Analytics

Since the traffic uses Google servers, Google can monitor the activity and it can determine the analytics as per its basis. This can provide the bleeding edge in the market to oust competition. These analytics are, by default, the right of website owners whose content is the reason for attracting the target audience and Google has been benefitting from it without repercussions.

Future of AMPs

While AMPs are a beneficial web technology developed by Google to address user issues, it still requires major development to resolve the concerns being raised by website owners. Google AMPs can resolve the issues of fast loading speed, responsiveness and easy development under a uniform framework.

However, it requires the same old caching technique that is being deployed by alternate CMS in the market as well. The site content is being utilized by Google itself to generate traffic, but the issue is being addressed from their end. Even amidst the many problems, which this technology may have, one does not fail to recognize its future and hope optimistically that it continues to evolve and address user difficulties.