What is Google AMP?

May 16, 2020 Topic: Technology Blog Brand: Techland Tags: GoogleGoogle AMPMobileInternetSEO

What is Google AMP?

Some publishers love it. Others, well, not so much.  

Early this month, Google announced that, for news having to do with coronavirus, it was waiving the requirement that stories in its "Top Stories" carousel be AMP stories.

"Beyond local news, we also made a change where both AMP and non-AMP stories will appear in Top Stories for searches that are coronavirus-related," the company's SearchLiason Twitter account announced on May 4.

Even before that change, there was a lot of talk about Google AMP. But what is it, exactly?

AMP stands for advanced mobile pages, and is a website publishing technology.

Google's AMP website describes it as "a web component framework that you can use to easily create user-first websites, stories, emails, and ads." AMP allows those who build and create websites to "create web pages that are fast, smooth-loading and prioritize the user-experience above all else."

Google first created AMP as a way to make web pages load faster, while competing with Facebook's Instant Articles and other innovations of its rivals. It entailed Google asking developers to create separate versions of its articles that would load in AMP, and requiring that in order to rank highly mobile search results.

AMP, however, has been controversial, with critics saying it represented Google taking too much on the web.

SEO consultancy Polemic Digital wrote a blog post in 2018 stating "Google AMP Can Go To Hell."

"If publishers had a choice, they’d ignore AMP entirely. It already takes a lot of resources to keep a news site running smoothly and performing well. AMP adds the extra burden of creating separate AMP versions of articles, and keeping these articles compliant with the ever-evolving standard," the piece said.

In September 2018, Google announced that it was switching to an "open governance model" for AMP.

"We want to move to a model that explicitly gives a voice to all constituents of the community, including those who cannot contribute code themselves, such as end-users," the company announced.

 "The change we are proposing is based on months of research, through which we’ve decided to follow the lead of the Node.js project and move to a consensus-seeking governance model." That post said that 22 percent of contributors to the project were from Google.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.