Showing up on Google’s Top Stories is a huge advantage for gaining exposure. When you show up in Top Stories, your articles gain more visibility than the standard search results. Formerly, you had to have Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to even have the chance to show up on Top Stories. Since many saw the value in Top Stories and AMPs were a requirement, a lot of people embraced AMPs. However, there is a big change coming.
Google recently announced that they will start using Core Web Vitals as a factor in search rankings and Top Stories. The announcement also detailed that Google will lift the AMP requirement around the start of 2021. This announcement makes the future of AMP unclear. Will it be easier for developers to optimize the mobile experience without AMP or to continue using AMP versions of their pages?
AMP is Google’s open-source, HTML framework that developers can use to create faster-loading mobile web pages. You can use AMP to build websites, stories, ads, and emails in a straightforward way. The content you create with AMP “prioritizes the user experience above all else”. The top benefits of AMP include:
- Faster web page speed, which equates to better user experience.
- Apply AMP across numerous web touchpoints.
- SEO benefits (for now).
- Performance increase.
Downfalls of AMP
While AMP has some key benefits, it also has its fair share of downfalls. If AMP is not a requirement for Top Stories, will people just stop using it? Potentially. Here are some of AMP’s major cons, and the reasons people may abandon it.
- There are alternatives. Previously AMP was a requirement for Top Stories, however, it soon won’t be. Once AMP ceases to be a requirement, people may opt for alternatives. There are other solutions for optimizing user experience and site performance, and some businesses may have just been using AMPs to remain eligible for Top Stories.
- AMP doubles your site maintenance work. With AMPs, you must essentially maintain a second version of your site. This process is not only time consuming, but it is also expensive.
- It will no longer provide a competitive advantage. Formerly, you could not appear on Top Stories without AMP. When that changes, will it make sense to continue using it?
Testing the Waters
After the official update, people can “opt to prioritize page experience factors to get their content into the Top Stories section, instead of maintaining AMP versions of their pages.” Google’s new algorithm intends to rank web pages and Top Stories based on user experience from the signals of Core Web Vitals.
However, not all of Googe’s algorithm updates have had much of an impact before. While it would be a good thing to update rankings and Top Stories based on positive user experience, the actual impact is unclear. Before making any major changes to get rid of AMP, people should wait and see how the updates play out and how the competition fairs.
The big decision for publishers currently running on AMP will be the time they must majorly change their site. When it comes time for a redesign or CMS adjustment, then they should look closely at the costs of updating to AMP vs opting for another method to optimize the user experience.
After the update, publishers and site owners need to compare the Top Stories. Are the majority of Top Stories from AMP sites or non-AMP sites? Without strong evidence that non-AMP sites are ranking in Top Stories, it doesn’t make sense to drop AMP. Additionally, “the requirements for non-AMP pages to appear in the Top Stories section may turn out to be more stringent than maintaining AMP.” In that case, it would actually be easier to maintain AMP than to meet the incredibly strict requirements for non-AMP sites.
AMP: Should it Stay or Should it Go?
As of right now, the future of AMP is not too clear. There are some challenges associated with AMP that sit producers may be eager to get rid of once Google officially renounces it as a requirement for Top Stories. When it is no longer a requirement, site owners will be able to experiment with other methods for optimizing user-experience without creating a second version of their site. However, there may still be advantages to keeping AMP, especially if you are already using it.
Companies should not make the choice right now on whether or not to continue using AMP in the long-term. The first thing to do is to see the impact of Google’s Core Web Vitals update and how AMP fairs when it is not a requirement. It is important to monitor your competition closely, and assess if AMP is still fairing better than other options. Currently, it is not clear if AMP will have a future once it disappears as a requirement for Top Stories.