Hopefully  2021 will be the beginning of the end for two of my least favorite things – the pandemic and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

Over the past few months, I’ve been focusing on Google’s Page Experience Update, due to launch in May, and what it means for publishers. The biggest and most talked about item in the update is Google announcing that sites with web essentials that pass will receive a ranking boost on mobile. However,  there is another important element in the update: the end of the special treatment for AMP pages.

AMP is an open-source framework created by Google with the stated goal of making mobile web pages fast. AMP pages must follow a specific set of rules and use a fixed set of features and functionality.

While AMP’s stated goal – to make the web fast – seems noble,  AMP also came with the unfortunate requirement that publishers allow traffic sources like Google to cache their content and serve it from from their domain, such as google.com . In practice, this meant that when a user clicks on a BBC search result, they are not taken to the BBC website; they view a copy of the BBC content on google.com. AMP created all sorts of problems, from crawling to ad serving to logins. Perhaps more importantly, it created a temptation that even Google couldn’t resist: encouraging users to stay on Google instead of consuming more content on a publisher’s website.

Google AMP carousel example
Example of search results from Google’s AMP carousel

Google has provided a distinct advantage to sites using AMP – priority placement on the biggest source of traffic in the world – Google Search. I’ve had the pleasure of working with over twenty thousand publishers in the five years since AMP was launched, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single reason a publisher uses AMP other than to get that placement. priority. Let me prepare this for you – Google, the world’s most dominant search engine – has used this market dominance to encourage publishers to adopt technology so that Google can store and serve publisher content. on the Google domain. How is it legal? Well, I’m not a lawyer, but maybe it isn’t.

The good news  is that in May everything is about to change. Part of Google’s update is that all pages with high Page Experience scores are eligible to appear in the featured news carousel. This effectively means that publishers will no longer be forced to use AMP and will instead be able to deliver rich and fast experiences on their own domains.

It will be interesting to see if Google is indeed relying on its own page experience scores or if it still favors AMP, as  AMP often underperforms regular web pages on these metrics  . Since AMP did not allow publishers to use their own JavaScript, AMP had to replicate all important functionality over the Internet within the AMP framework. As expected, this resulted in an ever-evolving library of JavaScript that must be downloaded and parsed to run an AMP page. On my test page, it loaded the scripts shown in the image below. Some are specific to page functionality, but the basic framework and analytics alone are over 100KB.

AMP javascript network

Okay, so AMP loads a bunch of junk files that my site doesn’t use, but how does that fare with web essentials? I tested two websites, one which is normally decent in terms of speed and web speed and the famous lafoo – which is perfect. ??

Amplified vs non-amplified
Amplified vs non-amplified 2

Both sites are noticeably worse on their AMP versions. The amount of data transferred is higher, script execution is worse, and the page takes longer to load. So much for the promise of speed and a better user experience.

The good news is even better; non-AMP pages generate significantly more revenue per page view than AMP pages. I originally assumed this was due to the nature of how ads load on AMP. However, recent antitrust lawsuits proposed that ad-competitiveness was a feature and that all non-amp ad tags, such as my company, Ezoic’s, were delayed by 1 second to make them less effective. It is also alleged that Google let its own exchange win, even when someone else bids higher!

Although comparing AMP to COVID-19 wasn’t fair, I look forward to the descent of both. What does this mean for you as a publisher? Simple – get to work now to make sure your site has a great user experience AND a great user experience score. Avoid unnecessary JavaScript, plugins and bloat and make your site easy to use. If you are currently using AMP, you will be able to get rid of this monstrosity in May, and if you are not, you will now be competing for research positions previously unavailable to you. For publishers, it’s a win-win.

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