If you’ve ever encountered an article using AMP via Google search – you know they aren’t kidding about speed. (You can also view this article in AMP format).
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But, one year into the project, not all publishers are sold on the current realities of AMP. A good summary of AMP’s shortcomings was recently published by developer Kyle Schreiber.
Schreiber astutely points out the issues of sharing pages due to AMP’s URL structure (which Google has taken steps to fix), articles being broken, being locked into Google’s ecosystem, along with possible privacy and security ramifications.
To be fair, AMP does have its fair share of big publishers who have benefitted from it. They’ve seen traffic and speed increases which certainly show the high ceiling of potential for the project.
Pushing (and Dragging) the Web Forward
Over the years, Google has been a company looking to change the web for the better:
- Google Fonts helped to usher in an era of better web typography.
- Chrome 56 started warning users of unsecure sites to encourage wider adoption of SSL.
- Google Search has penalized sites for using black-hat SEO tactics and other transgressions.
Coupled with the ever-evolving search algorithms, Google routinely changes the direction of the web. AMP is merely another step forward in this process. While their actions are in many ways altruistic, one does wonder if this single entity has a little too much sway.
When we all feel compelled to change what we are doing to please Google, it all seems a bit like friendly coercion. Don’t get me wrong – Google offers some outstanding services. And, in return, they ask us to provide them with some valuable data. It’s a tradeoff most of us are willing to make.
But AMP seems to be taking things to an even higher level.
Reasons to Get AMP’d Up
Despite any concerns about a Google-opoly, there are some solid reasons why you’d want to give AMP a try:
- It’s fairly easy to implement (including lots of WordPress Plugins to streamline the process).
- Using AMP can get your site in Google’s News Carousel, though it’s been previously reported that it won’t otherwise affect SEO.
- Readers will love AMP’s speed, simplicity and lower mobile data usage.
AMP really does take advantage of Google’s massive computing capabilities to take some otherwise complicated sites and simplify them. That in itself is worth celebrating.
And the fact that some large publishers have joined in the parade seems to indicate that this technology is going to continue to be refined over the long haul. So, whatever problems there are currently will (hopefully) get ironed out as AMP evolves.
Time Will Tell
Here and now, it seems difficult to brand AMP as either a success or failure. The idea of AMP is outstanding. The implementation, so far, has been less than perfect.
I do wonder what, if any, incentives smaller publishers have for going all-in with AMP. There’s no revenue sharing, and Google allows only certain types of ads to run on optimized pages. Smaller sites that depend on ad revenue for survival could be hurt.
Regardless of the shortcomings, in some ways it all seems a bit inevitable. Google’s hold over the web means that, at some point, you’re either going to get with their program or be left behind.
As free and open as we’d like to believe the web is, maybe there’s more of an authoritarian streak taking hold. Even if it’s with benevolence, being told what to do and where to be, goes against the grain of the web.
On the bright side, AMP is a large-scale, long-term type of project. So it’s to be expected that issues and concerns are out there. The real test is going to be how Google responds.
If they are willing and able to listen to online publishers both big and small, there is still hope that AMP will become beneficial for everyone involved.