In Defense of Google’s AMP Framework

AMP Retains Advantages Despite Google Search Changes
Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski

Google dropped what many in the web development community took as a bombshell in an April 2021 Search Central Blog post about the summer rollout of the page experience ranking signal. While the post provided broad updates –  from an extended timeline to support for signed exchanges – one aspect of the post garnered the most attention.

The post stated that the AMP format is no longer required, irrespective of its Core Web Vitals score, to be eligible to appear in the Top Stories news carousel. The announcement led to some quick, hot-take commentary from SEOs, SEMs, and digital gurus, professing the demise of the AMP framework and its preferential treatment. The hype went as far as saying Google AMP is dead.

Of course, the hyperbole is far from the truth.

The core of Google’s message is search performance boils down to speed. Fast websites – with or without AMP – will be rewarded. And that’s been a benchmark for years. While AMP is changing, with Google likely sunsetting the lightning-bolt badge and opening up the news carousel, the inherent value of the framework remains intact. Google maintains that the AMP cache and the pre-fetching of AMP-enabled pages will continue, preserving the framework’s underlying advantage.

Some also suspect that the lightning-bolt badge will disappear from the “10 Blue Links” – and that may happen. However, Google has tested an alternative, visual indicator badge – a star icon within a gray circle – which may complement pages passing Core Web Vitals. Only time will tell.

AMP and Core Web Vitals performance

Reading beyond the alarmist headlines, one would discover that Google also highlights how AMP-powered pages fare against Core Web Vitals performance metrics.

Passing all three of the user experience-focused metrics is a challenge with less than 4% of pages meeting Google’s new standards. Compounding this challenge is a majority of these pages are simple articles and not pages with complex features, like dynamic pricing or personalization.

According to Google, websites built with AMP are 5X more likely to pass Core Web Vitals than non-AMP sites. While the AMP badge is nice, the speed of AMP is what matters, and the framework delivers a well-lit pathway to pass the page experience and Core Web Vitals update.

Only AMP pages are prefetched and preloaded into the most popular browser search results – a total leg up over other popular frameworks.

The important takeaway from all this chatter is that AMP may be changing in search results, but its advantages remain in place. The framework remains under active development and its cache, prerendering, and preloading isn’t changing. For websites focused on delivering a frictionless user experience, AMP is the clearest way to satisfy the signal updates and to reap the rewards.

As Mark Twain once wrote “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” responding to an American newspaper printing his obituary. AMP dead? AMP is alive and well.