Welcome to episode 69 of This Week Online Today, where I will be talking to you about the big online news that has been happening this week today to make sure that you are ahead of the game when it comes to running your online brand successfully.
And if you have already subscribed to the newsletter, you will also receive an exclusive bonus tip of the week to help you further about this topic.
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In this episode of This Week Online Today, I talk about the following:
- A brief description of what is AMP and the positive side of it
- The problem with Google enforcing AMP on all websites
- Is it a good thing to make all websites have AMP pages
- The power that Google has over news publishers
- Why it’s difficult for publishers to NOT use AMP
- The heated debate about AMP that started this discussion entitled “Google AMP Can Go to Hell”
- Google’s partnership with WordPress to improve mobile experience
Welcome to This Week Online Today podcast, with your host, Ahmed Khalifa, where I would be talking about the biggest online news that has happened this week and why you should be aware of it. And don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll also receive a bonus tip of the week of what you should do about it. And you’ll find that link in the show note.
In the meantime, let’s get straight on to the show. Yes, welcome to Episode 69 of This Week Online Today, and I’ve got an interesting story that’s causing a bit of a debate in the online world, website, Google, SEO, specifically in that area. And really, I want to talk about A-M-P, or AMP which stands for accelerated mobile pages. For those who doesn’t know what A-M-P is or AMP, this is a project really by Google and this is like an open source project where everyone contribute to make the web faster.
And the way to do that is to make sure that the page instantly load on mobiles. Obviously, Accelerated Mobile Pages, that’s the whole point of it. The idea sounds good because, obviously, everything is getting quicker, nobody has patience anymore. You want things instantly, and that’s the idea behind AMP. Is that you go to your mobile, you search on Google, you find and article at the top most of the times going to be the publishers, like the news websites and magazines. You click on it, and instantly load and that’s the whole purpose of it.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, who wouldn’t want a very, very quick instant experience like that. But, there’s maybe call a dark side to it as well. It got brought up again this week because of an article written by Barry Adams. He’s a guy I met a couple of times at SEO Conferences, and a guy you can trust. Because he specialises in the Google News section, which means that he is involved with AMP quite a bit as well.
Basically, Barry got fed up, recently, with Google AMP. And he’s written an article on his business website, called Polemic Digital. The title of the article is called “Google AMP Can Go To Hell”. It’s bit forward, don’t you think?
And it’s just Barry getting frustrated, but he’s writing in a logical sense. He’s not just having a run and just talking nonsense, he’s actually explaining in details why he’s getting really, really fed up of AMP.
And I thought maybe I was the only one because I had a doubt about using AMP. Because I can see the benefit of it, but my problem is that Google will then own your content in a way. Because it just loads on their end and they make it sure that it look quickly for your audience. So, they control everything, because it’s from their search engine, obviously.
Again, you’re thinking, “So what? It’s giving the users what they want.” But, then you have to think about the ethical side of it as well, and is it really helping the publishers? Because, at the end of the day, without publishers, without people creating it, Google can do nothing, they are useless and they can’t serve their audience.
But, of course, because Google has that monopoly, they have that power, they force publishers, especially news publishers, to create AMP version of their article. And this is the thing, you can say like, “You know what, I don’t want it.” If you are news publisher or a blog creator in magazine, but especially a news publisher, you can say that, “You know what? I don’t want it, I’ll live without it.”
The problem with that is you will be left behind, because all your competitors are using it. And it means that if you don’t use it, you’ll be unlikely to appear at the top of Google in the console. So, you see that top searches, the top stories on mobile search in Google. Especially, when you search for recent news, you’ll see at the top, and they tend to be instant loading articles.
If you don’t appear there, then you’re missing on traffic because, obviously, you’re appearing at the top of Google and it’s quick. So, you don’t really have a choice, really, at the end of the day, if you are a news publisher. And, obviously, because of the popularity of mobile searches is massive, in terms of comparing with desktop search as well. The mobile searches is the be all and all for the publisher, people searching on the go for the latest news.
I’m guessing, and actually Barry said this, I’m guessing if the publishers had a choice, they would ignore AMP completely. And I think he mentioned that in his article, I will link to it and ensure that you really should give it a read. I find it really interesting because they have got their hands tied because of Google is forcing it onto them.
Yes, I know I have mentioned open source. Traditionally, open source mean that everyone contribute to a project and nobody owns it really. But, everyone is contributing to make it better for the community and making the web better kind of thing. But, here’s the thing though, according to Barry, over 90% of the contribution to AMP come from Google employees. So, in his words, “Let’s be real, AMP is a Google project.” There are similar ones elsewhere. Facebook has their own version which is compatible with AMP as well. They call Instant Articles.
You may have seen it as well, on the Facebook feed, on your mobile. You see their little lightning over the image of the article, and if you click on it, it loads instantly. It’s the same thing like that. I believe Apple News has that as well. So, same concept, same idea, instant load and makes it easier for the user. But again, there is a bit of a problem with that. And if you are going to get a bit more technical about it, the reason it’s being brought into light again is because Google is now sending out notification on search console, about problems with your AMP pages.
These problems can be often relate to the pagination of the page, or anything that’s related to social media, or images in media and stuff like that. Or any kind of content, or navigational issue on the AMP pages. They are sending a notification there of error, there is a problem, you need to fix it. And it’s like a warning kind of thing. Which is annoying as it is, because you’ve got a lot to do, but now they’re enforcing this.
But the problem is, though, is there’s a big difference between an AMP version of the page and the regular web version. Because Google is forcing people to make the AMP version 100% identical to the real web version. But that’s a problem, though, because it’s supposed to be restrictive AMP pages. They are very restrictive and there are certain things that are not there just to make it load quicker.
But then on the other hand, they want it to be exactly like the web page, so you have to add them in. But then, wouldn’t that make the loading slower? Here’s where it gets a bit confusing, like, “What do you want? What is it that you are looking for?” You are telling us that you want it quicker but you want to add more stuff on top of it?
I’m confused, quite a few people are confused, obviously Barry is confused in his article, and it just doesn’t make sense. How can you make an AMP page have the exact same feel and look and behaviour like the web page when it’s supposed to be not only restricted, but it’s supposed to be slimmed down version just to make it faster? Again, that doesn’t make any sense at all but this is the thing, Google has the power. They are forcing it. If you don’t do it, you are missing out.
I’ve always had the issue because then Google control everything that you do. As much as Google has benefit to the world and providing useful things for us, not just from a search perspective but all the tools that they give us for free … although I say free in brackets, they come at a price, not everything is free. You are the property. You are their advertising machine, because they even use your data. But that’s another story. We don’t want to talk about that, do we? Yet?
But this is the thing, now their latest weapon is using AMP. I’m getting a feeling that Google wants website to be completely powered by AMP. If it does because it does what they want, then that is unrealistic, it’s a bad idea, I think. Because you are putting a lot of strain on resources and putting people on the pressure to do that. Not everyone can do that, you know?
And not everyone needs it either, because you don’t need to appear in the top carousel all the time. And if you going to compete against the big names out there then, what’s the point, in a way?
It’s just really, really confusing that if that’s what they want, they want your website to be completely AMP, then I think that’s a really bad idea. I just don’t see how in the long-term that’s going to benefit the user. In the short-term, great. Quick instant load. Bang! I’ve got the information and I’m out. But then if the publisher, they are the one who are going to be suffering the most. The creative writer.
And think about the smaller business who doesn’t have these resources, they are going to struggle even more. Because they are going to have to invest heavily on, “Supposedly, we have to use AMP.” And it might not be something that is essential for them, but they just have to follow that trend and recommendation, apparently by Google.
Thing is, it’s a recommendation but in the long-term, it will allow Google to control everything. In terms of monetization and how they want your content to appear, and how they want your website to be. It’s one thing about SEO trying to make your website easy to be crawlable and find easy on the search engine, that’s one thing. And that is actually making it better. Not just for Google, but making it better for your site. It’s easy to navigate, it’s easy to use. That kind of thing. It kind of works hand in hand when you are doing SEO.
But then here’s another thing, that AMP is kind of like, again, I’m saying recommendation in quotation, but it’s not optional … it’s not mandatory for everyone. It’s only news publishers that really have to do that. But where do we stop? Where do we draw the line? Is it going to be every single website as we are thinking about. That’s the worry is it going to be on every single website.
Most of you would know that I’m a WordPress fan, I’m a WordPress geek, I’m involved in the community and I try to contribute a lot to WordPress. But now I’m slightly concerned by the whole partnership that they have with Google. Where they’re providing support for the latest web technology and especially involving mobile experience. So does that mean AMP is going to be in force in WordPress as well?
Because that’s a concern to me as well. I don’t want to enforce it. There needs to be some logic behind that. There is a bit of a worry about that. It’s still early days and you can read about it, the news about that partnership, I’ll put the link in the show note, again.
But here’s the worry, though, I’m keen to know what you think. Do you think it’s a good thing, do you think it’s a bad thing? What do you think it should do if it’s a bad thing? Because in the article that Barry has written, he think that we should fight back. He think that we should not listen to what Google is saying and resist that urge of going to AMP. Which is not easy if you think about it, because if you are the only one who is doing that, then you are left behind.
You’ll be left behind from all your competitors and you miss out on raising revenue and getting traffic and getting brand awareness and engagement. Can you really tell your client to not do that? That’s a challenge. That’s a challenge especially if they are happy with AMP and they are not thinking it from my perspective, or Barry’s perspective for example, they’re thinking that, “You know what? Let’s just go for it because that’s what everyone is doing , willing to do, but everyone does.”
But it seems like unless everyone resisted, then it’s not going to happen. How’s that going to happen? How can we stop everyone using AMP? I can’t see it right now but I’m keen to know what you think. Let me know in the social media and in the show note I will link to the post about. Let me know what you think. Should we ignore it, should we continue doing it, is it a good thing, is it a bad thing? Let me know.
As always, thank you for listening, I really do appreciate. I will also appreciate a review on iTunes, it’ll really mean a lot to me as well. So, in the meantime, look after yourself and take care.
Thank you for listening to this episode of This Week Online Today. I really do appreciate it and I hope you find it useful. If you have enjoyed the show, please do leave a review on iTunes, it would mean the world to me. I really would appreciate that.
Thank you, again, you rock. And one more thing, I just want to remind you to do your thing, because it matters. I’ll see you next week.
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