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AMP is dead 🪦 Long live AMP 👑

I am absolutely not a fan of AMP. In the website sense at least, as a short form for amplifier in the music area I'm totally with it 😁 Currently, it's about nothing less than the future of Google search. So let’s have a look at AMP!

# What is AMP?

AMP stands for “Accelerated Mobile Pages”. Basically, it’s a subform of HTML that Google released in the fall of 2015 to create a particularly fast website optimized for mobile devices.

Sounds good at first, doesn’t it? In essence, not a bad idea either. Google achieves the speed by limiting to certain AMP modules. Instead of standard HTML, this limits and optimizes the possibilities. An image exists in the AMP cosmos not as <img> tag, but as <amp-img>. A matching snippet of JavaScript subsequently determines for example, with which priority the image is loaded. If the image is further down the page, it will be loaded with delay. Unless the data connection is super good. However, if the end device is not powerful, then again, it won’t.

Lots of “ifs” and “buts” that is. At the same time, AMP pages are cached on the Google server. This allows an almost direct display of the page when called by Google search.

# Why don’t I like AMP?

Due to the restrictions, only the AMP modules built by Google can be used to build a website. This restricts tremendously in the design. From my point of view, this is not always optimal for the user either.

Let’s take the great example of cookie overlays. On normal websites, I can use checkboxes to customize which use of my data I want to agree to and which not. On AMP pages, I have to use the AMP consent module. And that knows exactly two states: allow everything or reject everything. Adios to setting options.

This is just one example of many. My private website is faster than almost any AMP page. It gets by without numerous javascript snippets from Google. And the fact that it is not stored on Google servers I feel is an advantage - why should I give Google control over my content? I specifically use a privacy-oriented variant of Google Analytics. And Google? Do they track my visitors if the page already comes from their servers?

By the way, the last question is still controversial in data protection. Is AMP even allowed to be used without the user’s prior consent? After all, the modules used come from Google servers. So far, the answer has usually been: “Technically necessary scripts are fine”. Are AMP pages really necessary?

# AMP and SEO

Especially for news sites, nevertheless, there was no way around AMP pages so far - mostly parallel to the “normal” HTML website. Google prioritized the self-created construct so extremely that, for example, only AMP content was allowed for news sliders in search. With the Web Vitals, however, Google is now opening the barriers. Instead of looking at the technical structure, it is now looking at hard key figures. And suddenly it’s clear: An unoptimized AMP page will never achieve top scores. What a scandal 🤯

# The constraint is dying. The technology too?

Suddenly it should be possible to use all the fancy rankings of Google search even with well-optimized HTML pages. The compulsion to AMP pages is gone. And yet, we’ll still be coming across AMP pages for a few more years. To get a page really fast, the page structure needs to be optimized for loading speeds from the start. Optimizing after the fact always works, sure - but for really good results, it’s a huge act. Optimizing fonts and images is not enough, the placement of images alone has gigantic effects on subsequent performance. This focus is almost completely missing in the industry. Especially larger sites will have problems optimizing their regular pages for good web vital values. And thus continue to rely on AMP.

# Insist on good performance from the start

Are you planning a relaunch? Then address the issue of performance from the start. Throughout the development process, keep checking the quality of what the development department or agency is presenting to you. A first clue for a quick test is provided by Page Speed Insights. Enter the URL, click “Analyze” - and you have tips and tricks for optimization.