Understanding AMP and Debunking Myths

Soon to celebrate another birthday, the open-source framework has rapidly matured but still faces misconceptions. We’re here to set the record straight.

The AMP project will be four-years old next month and has become a common presence in the online browsing experience since its late February 2016 launch. Over that time, AMP has been subject to hype, hope, misconception and even outright misrepresentation. A cursory web search will turn up many articles on AMP with far too many repeating the same misconceptions about the project and its technology.

The most pervasive myth is AMP is an exclusively Google project. The confusion is understandable since Google spearheaded the project. But, since its beginnings, AMP – originally called Accelerated Mobile Pages, hence the acronym – was an open-source development project led by Google along with other groups and individuals. In fact, Twitter was part of the earliest stages of AMP. From its inception AMP was open source and unbranded.

Since last year, AMP has moved to a new governance model with control handed to the OpenJS foundation to help ensure the project’s independence. To date, AMP has over 1,000 contributors with 78% coming from companies including Twitter, Pinterest, Yahoo, Bing, eBay and WompMobile. Support for AMP continues to grow along with the need for a faster, less bloated internet experience. And the bold nature of the project itself remains as valid today as it was in 2016.

Even so, myths about AMP persist.

MYTH: AMP is only for the mobile web. One indication this isn’t true is the project is no longer titled Accelerated Mobile Pages, it is simply AMP. The tech works as framework across device types such as mobile, tablet and desktop, but it was designed to be mobile-friendly where bandwidth, connectivity and hardware issues are more keenly felt than on the desktop.

MYTH: AMP only works from Google.com. Because Google itself saves and serves up cached AMP pages, there is a misconception it only works via Google. On content platforms alone, AMP works on Google, Bing, Twitter, Yahoo JP, Baidu, LinkedIn and more. A large number of platforms, vendors and partners across ads, analytics, content, CMS and audio/video have also integrated with AMP.

MYTH: AMP is only for publishers and static websites. This myth is best debunked by the fact more than 60% of AMP search engine result page (SERP) clicks go to non-news sites. AMP is perfect for any website and it’s great for e-commerce having been embraced by brands including BMW, George, Providence Health, New Egg, Samsung and more. At launch, AMP was mostly adopted by publishers, but now every aspect of the online experience leverages AMP for its speed benefits.

MYTH: AMP doesn’t support e-commerce websites. See the brands listed above to refute this myth. AMP is actually a natural fit for e-commerce with a fast user experience that drives engagement and leads to higher conversion rates and ROI. Evolution of the tech since its launch has brought new components and functionality to retailers that increases speed without losing the brand experience. WompMobile works with retailers worldwide across verticals such as health supplies, clothing, automotive, commodities and more.

MYTH: AMP won’t work with major e-commerce platforms. In fact, AMP ties into all major CMS and e-commerce platforms including Shopify, WooCommerce, IBM WebSphere, SAP Hybris and more.

MYTH: AMP doesn’t support interactive/dynamic/personalized content. The concern is JavaScript-driven features that shoppers love are not allowed, but AMP components enable customization and interactive experiences with no feature restrictions and third-party integrations are available. Personalization features include related products, A/B testing, geolocation targeting and more, and filtering and facet searching are also possible.

MYTH: AMP doesn’t allow for fresh, real-time content. Dynamic content, such as pricing and inventory, is possible using a mix of AMP components and APIs.

MYTH: AMP kills user engagement. At WompMobile, we’ve found the opposite is true. After launching over 40 million AMP pages and measuring lift across major user engagement and profitability metrics, our research found AMP led to a 27.1% increase in organic traffic, a 33.8% lift in SERP impressions, and 15.3% higher SERP click-through rates.

MYTH: Best practices will match AMP speeds. Applying best practices is always a good idea, but only AMP guarantees speed and sets up guardrails that protect against degradation of that speed over time. Because AMPs are pre-rendered and pre-fetched at the SERP, those pages essentially load instantly. It’s impossible to re-platform or engineer the benefits afforded to AMP.

MYTH: Google is stealing your branded URL. AMP is delivered via a global content delivery network (CDN) fetching cached content from the cloud which means the AMP Cache is no different than Cloudflare, AWS or Azure relying on global CDNs to optimize delivery along with benefits like scalability and reliability. Dating back to late 2018, Google launched Signed Exchanges which means cached AMP URLs feature the original domain names rather than “google.com/amp.” Signed Exchanges was a benchmark in the evolution of open source AMP by providing the pre-cached mobile-page speeds along with the attribution and branding of the origin URL.

MYTH: AMP performance can’t be measured or tracked. Actually, Google Analytics along with more than 50 analytic platforms integrate with AMP. It is important to remember AMP pages are served from an AMP cache domain with differs from your site domain. Use an AMP Linker analytics tool to join user sessions using AMP Client ID as a user identifier to track visitors across an AMP cache and your site pages.

MYTH: AMP plugins work great. The fact is there’s simply no way to click a button and convert your canonical page to AMP while preserving your brand identity, functionality and user experience. Using plugins mean you must adhere to a prefab template that will be a watered-down version of your canonical page. Building AMPs with total feature and brand parity takes work, but the time and effort is worth it.

MYTH: Google penalizes AMP because of duplicate content. This is incorrect because valid AMP pages require a canonical link tag pointing to the main site. Google caches and serves AMPs from the SERP, but the domain authority and SEO is attributed to the canonical page.

MYTH: AMP has no effect on rank. According to Google, AMP doesn’t receive a boost in page ranking, but it does emphasize the importance of mobile performance – especially speed – as a ranking signal. In the end, Google values mobile performance and AMP provides the performance its algorithm is looking for. The mandate is to be fast and create a mobile website catering to the user experience or risk damaging search engine results.