The Google AMP Conundrum – For Better or For Worse?

Google’s push for the AMP project has attracted its fair share of opposition. The criticism is well-founded – it does feel uneasy when an industry leader tries to force its future down a specific path. Google maintains that AMP is optional but the alternative may seem bleak if you are trying to penetrate a mobile market or demographic. The biggest concern is arguably the need to maintain two versions of a website, should you choose to adopt AMP. While it does improve user experience, the additional workload and higher costs could potentially hurt smaller businesses.

 

Another problem with AMP, definitely a far more disturbing one, is being completely glossed over by many people, many of whom are regarded as experts. The problem is while the AMP-enabled mobile page will load very quickly, it is actually displaying a cached copy, pulling the content from Google’s own servers. This means that while a user may be accessing content that you put on your website, they never actually leave Google. This goes against the very essence of a free and fair internet and some may even argue that Google is taking advantage of another’s hard work. Now, there is a new development on the scene. Since the last few days, Google has been running an experiment that directly affects audio-visual content. Depending on your geographical location, device, and settings, if you search for a movie, the trailer starts to play automatically. In many cases, clicking on the trailer is taking users to YouTube or the PlayStore. The fear is that this concept could be scaled to keywords that predominantly return video results. Google certainly seems to be testing the limits of what they can get away with.

 

There have been statements and reassurances that everything will turn out just fine after things settle down. But once you get past the intentionally ambiguous PR-speak, it boils down to good old-fashioned capitalism – it is all about maximising market position. Google is doing what companies like Microsoft and Apple have gotten away with for years – subtly enforcing new standards that benefit them at the expense of their competition. Does that make it excusable? That is a topic for another day. We are not exactly seeing something unprecedented.

 

Google obviously has a vested interest in promoting their platforms. Android already has the largest OS market share, ChromeOS continues to grow, and Chrome is the dominant internet browser, even on iOS. It would seem natural for Google to push their advantage, and they have managed to do it without inciting mass rebellion. At the very least, they are doing a better job of expanding their dominance than Microsoft ever did. To add to their advantage, new technology from Google or even changes to existing ones generally mean good things for the end user. Consequently, adoption rates are high, demand rises, and there are practically no disgruntled customers. AMP is another step in that direction, no matter how you try to dress it up. It converts Google into a portal, which is not bad in and of itself. However, remember that they also control who gets in and who gets to stay.

 

If the concerns regarding AMP are not setting off alarms in your head, you would do fine by switching over to AMP, possibly even abandoning your regular website. For the rest, be aware that you can still have a perfect website without AMP. If the primary reason you are considering it is for faster load times, there are other ways to get the same results. The other reason you may want to switch to AMP could be that you want people to find you easily but there are some obvious and viable alternatives here too. It is unlikely, though not entirely impossible, that Google will, someday, return results only for websites that have implemented AMP. So, there is no reason you should find yourself forced to adopt AMP, though giving it a good look and mapping out your future plans may be worthwhile.

 

Also, as we have always maintained, a smart SEO strategy makes for a good bet to counter future issues. Competent SEO and a solid content strategy can ensure that your website ranks high on search engines. This is something you should do even if you adopt AMP since your AMP-enabled mobile website will not magically rank up there on its own. As a business, SEO is more important for your website’s success than ever before. Whatever AMP accomplishes (or doesn’t), it has already started an immediate trend to improve content delivery times. Websites are getting optimised for mobile platforms while CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) are already cleaning up their act. You can expect this to soon mean the possibility for near-universal, ultra-fast load times. With additional support from SEO services and content writing companies, you can use this to get the most out of your website.

 

If AMP does become a dominant standard, there will be plugins and tools that can automatically convert a regular website and create an AMP-enabled copy. In fact, some of these already exist, though they are far from perfect at this stage. Even so, now and in the future, you will get the best results from content that is created specifically for mobile platforms. This means top-quality content and optimisation from professionals. AMP restricts what you can and cannot use and some content and web developers are treating this as a welcome trend that will mean less bloat on websites, more streamlined content, and an overall superior user experience, even on regular websites.

 

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the situation is that underlying technologies should not dictate the goals or terms of your marketing plan. A good digital marketing company can get you results regardless. There is also a point to be made about not waiting till the dust settles. If you want a successful website, you’d better get moving and seek the advice of an SEO services company that will be able to react quickly should you need to make any switches, planned or otherwise.

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