Are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) Still Important In 2024?

Julian Wallis
12 min read
The future of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) in 2024 and beyond remains uncertain, as major online publishers and social media platforms shift away from them, while Google's support continues amidst retired ranking systems, indicating a diminishing significance overall.
AMPs on a laptop searched by a user

Mobile devices are dominating the digital landscape which means ensuring optimal performance and user experience on smartphones and tablets has become paramount for business owners. 

One intuitive technology that gained significant attention when it first launched as a quick fix for mobile page experience is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). 

AMPs, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, have sparked debate since their inception, promising faster website performance, particularly catering to mobile users, and potentially boosting search rankings with minimal additional effort required. 

Initially embraced by various sectors, especially news outlets, AMPs have persisted for nearly half a decade. Yet, the looming question persists – But what happened to it exactly? Is AMP truly advantageous in the long term?

Is it really important anymore for SEO? Do businesses even use AMP? We’ll answer all of these questions and more in this guide. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Introduction to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) 📲

Accelerated Mobile Pages, commonly referred to as AMP, is an open-source initiative to improve web content performance on mobile devices. Launched by Google in collaboration with other tech giants, including Twitter and WordPress, AMP aims to deliver faster-loading web pages by stripping down unnecessary elements and utilising streamlined coding techniques.

 AMP was introduced by Google to enhance the user experience by facilitating faster loading times for web content. While AMP operates as an open-source initiative, Google’s substantial involvement positions it as a de facto Google development, aligned with the company’s user-centric ethos. Notably, Google’s emphasis on user experience, epitomised by initiatives like the 2022 Helpful Content Update, underscores the importance of swift page loading times in search rankings.

Mobile optimisation has become increasingly important for website owners, as more users access the internet through smartphones and tablets. Slow-loading pages and poor user experiences can lead to higher bounce and lower conversion rates, negatively impacting overall website performance.

Initially conceived to streamline mobile page loading, AMP has evolved to encompass a broader array of functionalities over time. Beyond optimising mobile content, AMP now extends its reach to include desktop compatibility, interactive storytelling features, email support, optimised advertising solutions, and e-commerce capabilities. This expansion underscores AMP’s versatility and its journey from a mobile-centric solution to a multifaceted tool for web optimisation.

How Accelerated Mobile Pages Work ⚙️

At its core, AMP utilises a stripped-down version of HTML, known as AMP HTML, and a simplified version of CSS, known as AMP CSS, to create lightweight web pages optimised for mobile viewing. 

Additionally, AMP employs a content delivery network (CDN) to cache and serve AMP pages quickly to users, further enhancing performance. Key features of AMP include: 

  • Asynchronous loading of resources
  • Pre-rendering of content, and strict limitations on the use of external scripts. 

These optimisations help reduce page loading times and improve the overall user experience on mobile devices. AMP’s appeal lies in its ability to deliver instant loading times for mobile pages. This achievement primarily stems from stringent design constraints imposed by the framework, coupled with efficient rendering techniques. 

However, AMP’s approach has not been without controversy. The framework’s design limitations, mandating adherence to prescribed styles and imposing size constraints on CSS and JavaScript, have sparked criticism for potentially stifling creative expression and brand identity. Moreover, AMP’s pre-rendering feature, which allows pages to load before user interaction, had raised concerns about preferential treatment in search results, tilting the playing field in favour of AMP-powered content.

How Important Is AMP For Google Search Rankings? 🔎

Google’s John Mueller has stated that AMP is not a ranking factor in itself. Although, if we look at the big picture, AMP brings dramatic improvements in page speed, and that is a big ranking factor. 

Yes, you can improve mobile performance in many ways. But almost none will be as easy as adopting pre-rendered AMPs.

Examining The Current Scenario of Google AMP Development 🤓

There are few launches as successful as AMP’s. Several major platforms were interested from the get-go, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and WordPress. There was also a lot of hype about its results: AMP was supposed to increase websites’ mobile traffic, time-on-page, and conversions by a factor of 4.

Now that the initial excitement has passed, we can look at what has happened objectively and put this technology under the microscope. Let’s look back at how Google AMP has evolved. Below are the major milestones in the history of AMPs.

October 2015 – Google announces the launch of AMP

February 2016 – We see the first AMP pages in “featured stories”

September 2016 – We start to run into the first AMP pages in search results

August 2017 – Ads could now leverage AMP’s speed benefits

February 2018 – February marked the arrival of AMP stories and AMP emails

December 2018 – We began having access to the official AMP plugin for WordPress

April 2019 – Now we can leverage JavaScript in AMP and Signed Exchange to solve the famous URL problem

Perhaps you remember the 2017 and 2018 announcements that showed the rise in AMP usage from 900K domains and over 2 billion pages to 31 million domains and over 5 billion pages.

If you remember those announcements, you’ll also recall that in 2019 the Google AMP development team gave no new updates, basically indicating the numbers had stopped being impressive.

But statistics recently published by W3Techs show that the number of websites using AMP has grown by 70% in 2022 alone.  However, we need to keep in mind that the overall percentage of sites using AMP as a markup language is incredibly low compared to 94.7% using regular HTML.

Google AMP Conferences: A Positive Indicator?

To share progress and plans, Google AMP has held three annual conferences since 2017. Attendance at these conferences has been growing steadily, but this hasn’t had much impact. Nonetheless, it’s still a good sign for the project as a whole.

Is AMP Even Relevant In 2024? 👨‍💻

Now that we’ve gone through AMP’s adoption rates and its evolution, it’s time to dive into the ultimate question: “Is AMP worth it or is it slowly becoming outdated?” 

The answer is nuanced. While Google continues to endorse AMPs, notable players in the online news industry and social media platforms, such as Twitter (now X), began transitioning away from them in 2021. Additionally, Google phased out ranking systems that rendered AMPs obsolete.

Before we discuss the relevance of AMPs any further, let’s examine the main reasons why many SEO specialists oppose AMPs. 

Spoiler Alert: Technical implementation and Google’s control over AMP content are at the heart of this issue. 

A Worse User Experience 👎

Ironically, the biggest potential benefit of AMP as a technology is its greatest drawback. Faster isn’t always better, especially when it comes to websites with interactive elements. Don’t get us wrong, those elements need to load quickly. But it’s also crucial for them to be easy and pleasant to interact with. This means AMPs’ design limitations can harm – brand perception, conversions and overall user experience

Monetisation Challenges 💲

Google’s AMP pages don’t support header bidding and programmatic advertising.  This is a huge deal breaker for publishers that rely on this type of ad.

Difficulty In Maintenance & Optimisation 🖇️

Achieving comparable results on AMP as your current website requires a redesign and optimisation of your mobile version to adhere to AMP’s technical constraints. Essentially, this entails creating a new site and optimising it separately for conversions, which may seem daunting, especially if your existing mobile site performs well.

Crawl Budget Optimisation 👜

Introducing AMP can impact your website’s crawl budget allocation, as AMP crawling utilises a portion of the budget. Consequently, implementing AMP may redirect a significant portion of the crawl budget to content already indexed by Google, posing challenges, particularly for websites with frequent content updates.

Duplicate Content ©

Google sometimes fails to recognise AMP and non-AMP versions as identical pages, leading to both URLs appearing in search engine results pages (SERPs), despite setting the desktop version as canonical. This can create confusion and complicate SEO efforts.

Unreliable Analytics Data

With Google delivering AMP content, publishers may encounter discrepancies in analytics data. Early AMP implementations featured a specific URL structure that hindered the accurate tracking of metrics like traffic source, unique users, pageviews per session, and bounce rate. While improvements have been made, some issues persist.📊

Poor Dynamic Content Support 🪢

Despite enhancements, AMPs still exhibit limitations, particularly in supporting dynamic content. For e-commerce websites, this means portions of the user journey must occur on non-AMP pages, potentially leading to an inconsistent mobile experience.

AMP vs. Standard Mobile Pages: Navigating Optimisation Strategies 📱

While Google touts AMP’s superiority in terms of loading speed, claiming an average load time of 0.7 seconds compared to 15 seconds for regular mobile pages, a nuanced perspective reveals additional considerations. Notably, comparing optimised standard mobile pages, which typically load within 2 seconds, with AMPs underscores the importance of tailored optimisation efforts. 

While AMPs excel in delivering rapid loading times, optimised standard pages can rival their performance with concerted optimisation endeavours. Factors such as the need for impactful visual presentation and intricate interactive elements may sway the choice between AMPs and standard mobile pages. AMPs shine in scenarios where content-centric presentation or time-sensitive information delivery takes precedence, such as blogs, news articles, recipes, and product pages.

What If You’re Already Using AMPs? 🤔

With the recent updates from Google and ongoing controversies surrounding the potential throttling of non-AMP pages, particularly highlighted in the 2020 antitrust lawsuit, coupled with documented success stories of publishers removing AMP pages from their sites (such as Search Engine Land, Outside Magazine, and Kinsta), the question arises: What should be done with AMPs? There are three primary approaches to navigating the eventual decline of accelerated mobile pages.

Retain AMPs If They’re Beneficial 😄

For online publishers, retaining AMP pages may be prudent to maintain performance in the Top Stories carousel. Since May 2023, non-AMP pages and AMP pages have held equal footing in this carousel. While the AMPs no longer offer a ranking boost, their streamlined design and faster loading times can temporarily address issues with sluggish or cumbersome websites, thereby enhancing core web vitals and overall page experience.

Avoid Creating AMPs for New Websites 👎

When embarking on the creation of a new website, it’s advisable to refrain from developing AMP URLs that may later require disabling and permanent redirection. Instead, prioritise building a responsive, well-designed website tailored for mobile devices, subsequently adjusting the mobile design to desktop. Elevate core web vital and page experience scores by opting for lightweight WordPress themes, ensuring ADA compliance, optimising image sizes, and minimising the use of intrusive pop-ups or flashy JavaScript elements.

Remove Unnecessary AMPs 🔒

If AMPs fail to contribute significantly to Web Stories visibility, core web vital scores, or overall user experience, it may be prudent to eliminate them. Webmasters advocate for removing AMPs due to the challenge of maintaining dual versions (AMP and non-AMP) of the same content, which poses a burden for developers. Moreover, SEO specialists must diligently monitor the performance of split content between two URLs in tools like Google Analytics and Search Console, complicating comprehensive SEO audits.

What Does The Future Hold For AMP? 🔮

Although not the flagship project in Google’s arsenal, AMP shows resilience and versatility to expand into new domains despite low adoption rates. Ongoing development efforts from Google introduce new features and address emerging challenges. The trajectory of AMP suggests a move towards:

  • Developing fully functional websites with expanded capabilities, including limited JavaScript usage.
  • Introducing new content formats such as AMP Stories and AMP Email.
  • Exploring alternatives like “AMP Bento” to democratise AMP benefits without full commitment to the framework.
  • Evaluating non-AMP pre-rendering as a viable solution for fast-loading pages, though security and regulatory concerns remain.

Is AMP obsolete? Not quite just yet. However, its value proposition depends on various factors. News sites, for instance, may have adopted AMP for Google News Top Stories visibility, but with the requirement dropped, its relevance diminishes. 

The speed benefits offered by AMP are achievable through intentional mobile optimisation, granting control over website design. While AMP may suit those seeking a streamlined mobile solution, its adoption isn’t obligatory. Ultimately, the decision hinges on your circumstances and strategic goals.

Conclusion – AMPs In 2024 🤓

In conclusion, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) offer a compelling solution for improving mobile performance and user experience. By leveraging AMP technology, website owners can deliver faster-loading pages, enhance user engagement, and may improve search engine rankings. 

But despite those benefits, we cannot overlook its drawbacks, and most importantly its relevancy today. AMP also has major design and framework-specific bottlenecks that must be carefully considered before implementation. 

Lastly, the relevance of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) in 2024 is debatable. While Google still supports AMPs, major online publishers and social media platforms like Twitter have started moving away from them, and Google has retired ranking systems that previously favoured AMPs. All of this suggests a diminishing significance of AMPs in the current digital landscape.

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Published On

February 19, 2024