Google today announced a forthcoming update to its Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, web format that aims to discourage website owners from misusing the service. The company says that, starting in February 2018, AMP pages must contain content nearly identical to that of the standard page they’re replicating.
Currently, because AMP pages load faster and more clutter-free versions of a website, they naturally contain both fewer ads and less links to other portions of a site. That’s led some site owners to publish two versions of a webpage: a standard page and an AMP-specific one that acts a teaser of sorts that directs users to the original. That original page, or canonical page in Google parlance, is by nature a slower loading page containing more ads and with a potentially lower bounce rate, which is the percentage of viewers who only view one page before leaving.
Now, Google is cracking down on that behavior. “AMP was introduced to dramatically improve the performance of the web and deliver a fast, consistent content consumption experience,” writes Ashish Mehta, an AMP product manager. “In keeping with this goal, we'll be enforcing the requirement of close parity between AMP and canonical page, for pages that wish to be shown in Google Search as AMPs.” Google already includes a link button at the top of an AMP page should a user wish to redirect to the standard page, which is sometimes necessary for accessing a site’s homepage or the comment section of a news site.
The company stresses that using AMP does not affect the search ranking of a given URL. Yet publishing in AMP and abiding by its rules is required to earn placement in Google search’s Top Stories carousel, which can drive significant web traffic. “Additionally, we will notify the webmaster via Search console as a manual action message and give the publisher the opportunity to fix the issue before its AMP page can be served again,” Mehta writes.