AMP news: Where are we now?

It has been a while since we did a post specifically on AMP. Not sure whether that is because AMP is becoming a common part of the publisher’s toolkit we all use, or that there’s just not that much AMP news to share. I took the liberty to collect some of the recent developments for you. In this post, I will share some of the things that caught my eye and might be interesting for you!

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Publisher’s problems

We often discuss publishers when talking about AMP, as it’s clear what the benefit of AMP is for those kinds of websites. Reading an article when waiting for the train or metro, in a plane (some have Wifi, these days), or for instance when waiting for your kids to finish their swimming lessons. Quick reads, on the go. Now there is a problem with that for those publishers:

Six publishing sources, requesting anonymity out of fear of angering Google, said their ads load slower than their content on AMP, and that is part of the reason why they make less money per pageview from AMP than they do from their own websites (Source: Digiday.com)

I truly understand how this is an issue for publishers. To provide news to the world, you have to make money somehow. That’s much like how we have to sell premium plugins to be able to provide our free plugins. The one needs the other. I think there’s a task here for advertisement agencies, affiliate programs and so. The issue here is tracking, right? I wanted to share this particular bit of AMP news, as it’s a different way of looking at AMP. We love the speed optimization, UX possibilities, but every upside has its downside.

Tracking AMP and non-AMP pages

Speaking of tracking, Google just announced a new service called AMP Client ID API, which allows you to track your customer’s journey over Google’s pages, such as the search pages. It was already possible to track your user’s journey over AMP/non-AMP pages on your own domain, but now your domain can ‘talk’ to Google as well, so you’ll have a full understanding of that journey. It’s done by a combination of that API and Google Analytics. This service will give you many new insights, for example, if your users have ever visited you via an AMP page displayed by Google or not.

Please note you have to opt-in to this solution, and you’ll need to change your code for that. Read all about it on Google’s Analytics blog.

Products now in AMP

To think that AMP is just for publishers is an illusion. eBay recently launched 8 million AMP pages (summer 2017), which shows AMP is truly ready for that. Read that post; it’s nice to see how a huge website like eBay went about that. Let’s be honest: that AMP page does load fast and it’s clean and crisp on your new iPhone. So it only makes sense, from a visitor point of view, that AMP is used in more online fields. There are more use cases where AMP actually pushed conversion as well. I’m sure we’ll see more of these stories in months to come.

With the development of AMP pages for products, and for instance AMP for recipes, we’ll only have to wait to see what’s next.

Instant instead of AMP?

Did you see this already? Google has been experimenting with a different label for AMP pages:

It’s a tweet from a few weeks ago, but I think it’s remarkable AMP news: the label says “instant.” It’s just the label, of course, but still. It reminded me immediately of Facebook’s Instant articles. It has been a while since I have seen such consistency between the two moguls. Both serve the same purpose, right? Easily loading web pages, freed from all the fuzz that occupies some websites. I think it makes sense to align these terms/labels, and I do have a preference for “instant” over “amp,” simply because the term makes more sense to “normal” people using Google.

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Convert to AMP automatically?

It would be so much easier for publishers and website owners if AMP would just be a way of viewing websites on a mobile device. That’s not the case at the moment, with all the specific AMP tags, but Google recently acquired Relay Media, which has a tool to convert pages to the AMP format simply. You can never be sure, but this might indicate that Google intends to start automating the process for you. Just thinking out loud here. Having said that, as with a lot of things with Google, I think it will always be better to suggest things like meta tags, titles and this AMP ‘design’ to Google yourself. And keep a bit of control over that in the process. We’ll have to see how deep/fast they will integrate Relay Media’s technique into, well, everything mobile.

Update: HTTPS already required for AMP?

The final piece of AMP news I’d like to share, or better remind you of, as you might already know this, is that Google likes you to serve your AMP pages over HTTPS. In fact, Google’s Maile Ohye told the audience at the SEJ Summit (November 2016) that having an HTTPS website is going to be required for PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) and much of the AMP functionality on pages.

It makes all the sense in the world that Google is pushing HTTPS for AMP. With the rapidly growing number of AMP pages and Google’s (and our) wish to serve mainly HTTPS pages, I would perhaps have pushed HTTPS for even more than just a part of the AMP functionality, and even earlier. I include this subject in this AMP news update because to my knowledge it’s still not required, but strongly recommended.

That’s your AMP news for now

We’ve lined up some of the AMP news we felt worth sharing. If you have any additions, please do post these in the comments, as AMP is and will be a development we’re watching closely from both a UX, an SEO and a business point of view. Want to know more about AMP and future developments, keep a keen eye on the AMP roadmap 🙂

Read more: ‘Mobile SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

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