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Rethinking AMP: Is it time for SEOs to let go?

an image of author Nati Elimelech accompanied by various search-related iconography, including a calendar, line chart, and globe icon

As the digital landscape evolves, so do our strategies and perspectives. I’ve been a long-standing proponent of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP; introduced in 2015), even advocating for it in lectures and client consultations during my time running an SEO agency.


However, with the web becoming increasingly mobile-optimized and Google lifting AMP’s preferential treatment in its search features, I find my stance on AMP changing. I ran an informal poll on X/Twitter and realized that other SEOs were no longer recommending it either:


ALT A screenshot of a twitter poll from Nati Elimelech (@netanel), stating “We still support AMP for blog posts on @Wix. We all know AMP has downsides and not many upsides as of not so recently. #SEO experts, what do you think we should do?” 91% of respondents answered “kill it with fire” and 9% of respondents answered “keep and weep.”

In the next sections, I’ll explain why some SEOs are—after the better part of a decade—stepping back from AMP so that you can make the right decision for your website.


Table of contents:


The AMP conundrum


AMP, with its promise of faster load times, seemed like an ideal solution for the mobile web. However, it also presents significant challenges:


  1. Limited functionality due to JavaScript restrictions

  2. Design constraints due to strict layout rules

  3. Dependency on Google for serving pages

  4. Difficulties in tracking user behavior

  5. The need to maintain both AMP and non-AMP versions of a page

  6. Limited ad formats (potentially affecting monetization)


These challenges highlight the complexities and trade-offs involved with using AMP. While it offers benefits in terms of speed and mobile optimization, these must be weighed against the limitations and dependencies that come with the platform.


01. Limited functionality due to JavaScript restrictions

AMP restricts the use of custom JavaScript, limiting the functionality that can be implemented on a page.


For example, if you want to create a unique interactive feature on your site, you might find that AMP’s JavaScript limitations prevent you from doing so. This can hinder creativity and innovation, leading to a more generic user experience (which can be the tipping factor for businesses in high-competition verticals).


02. Design constraints due to AMP’s strict layout rules

AMP enforces strict layout rules to ensure fast loading times. While this can lead to quicker page loads, it also means that designers have less flexibility in creating visually appealing layouts. For instance, if you want to use a specific font or layout that doesn’t comply with AMP’s rules, you’ll have to compromise your design vision. This can make it challenging to create a distinctive and engaging visual identity for your site, impacting your overall branding efforts.


03. Dependency on Google for serving AMP ages

AMP pages are often served directly from Google’s cache. While this can improve load times, it also means that you’re relying on Google to deliver your content.


If there are any issues with Google’s servers or if Google changes its policies, it could affect how your pages are displayed. This dependency places a significant portion of control in the hands of a third party, which can be a risk for some businesses.


04. Complexities in tracking user behavior

Tracking user behavior on AMP pages can be more complex than on regular web pages. Standard tracking tools might not work as seamlessly with AMP, requiring additional configuration or alternative solutions.


For example, if you want to analyze how users interact with a specific element on your AMP page, you might find that your usual analytics tools don’t provide the insights you need. This can make it harder to understand your audience and optimize your site accordingly.


05. Maintenance on both AMP and non-AMP versions of a page

If you implement AMP, you’ll often need to maintain two versions of each page: one AMP version and one regular version. This essentially doubles the work required for updates, maintenance, and quality assurance. In the context of SEO, this means that all structured data markup and other SEO tags must be present in both versions, and keeping parity between them can be challenging. For example, if you update content or fix a bug on the regular version of a page, you’ll need to make the same changes to the AMP version, including any related structured data. This can increase the time and resources needed to manage your site, making it harder to ensure consistency across both versions.


06. Limited ad formats (potentially affecting monetization)

AMP places restrictions on the types of ads that can be displayed, limiting the options available to advertisers. If you rely on advertising revenue, this could impact your ability to monetize your site effectively.


For instance, a specific ad format that performs well on your regular pages might not be allowed on AMP pages, leading to lower ad revenue. This constraint can be a significant consideration for sites that depend on diverse and flexible advertising options.


Google’s policy shift: The final nail in AMP’s coffin?


AMP’s appeal was significantly reduced when Google opened its “Top Stories” carousel to all pages meeting its page experience criteria in June 2021.


A screenshot of the google search results for the query “sports” showing a block of 7 sports-related stories.
The Top Stories carousel can drive significant traffic to pages that make it into this search feature.

AMP’s decline (even in the eyes of Google) along with the inherent challenges mentioned above call into question its practicality in many scenarios.


Case study: Barry Schwartz’s experience

Barry Schwartz, a prominent figure in the SEO community, shared his experience with removing AMP from his site, Search Engine Roundtable. He reported no significant changes in overall traffic, a temporary spike in crawl rates, an increase in AMP errors, and some visibility issues in Google Discover.


However, these issues were resolved and Schwartz concluded that the removal of AMP went smoothly overall.


A google search console chart showing roughly 11,000 valid AMP pages but reducing to 0 valid AMP pages between June and July 2023.
Valid AMP pages in GSC reduced to zero as Schwartz removed AMP pages from his site in 2023.

AMP is trending downward, but it might still be valuable for some websites

As the web becomes more mobile-optimized, the need for a separate solution like AMP diminishes, and indeed, Google Trends data shows a declining interest in AMP over the years.


Search interest on Google for the topic “Accelerated Mobile Pages,” showing peak popularity between 2017-2019, and declining ever since.
Search interest on Google for the topic “Accelerated Mobile Pages” has steadily declined since April 2019.

You should base your decision to continue with or remove AMP on a careful evaluation of your specific circumstances. One way to assess the risk of moving away from AMP is to compare your site’s mobile performance against the AMP performance.


If there isn’t a significant gap, it might be worth considering a move. However, it’s important to remember that, while performance is crucial, it’s just one signal incorporated into the page experience system/algorithm.


AMP: The writing’s on the wall


While AMP has played a significant role in the mobile web (and in shaping the technologies that the news industry relies on), it might be time to rethink its role in your SEO strategy.


As someone who once advocated for AMP, I now find myself questioning this stance. This shift in perspective is a testament to the dynamic nature of SEO, reminding us to stay adaptable and forward-thinking in our approach.


In short, let’s kill it with fire.


 
Nati Elimelech

With over 15 years of experience and a focus in large scale website optimization, Nati was the CEO of a prominent SEO agency catering to some of Israel’s biggest brands. As the Head of SEO at Wix, he focuses on helping platforms be search-engine friendly and building SEO products.





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