Google will start penalizing sites that use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) as teaser pages starting February 1, 2018.
A policy change will require that content on an accelerated mobile page be comparable to the original content on the canonical page.
In the event that Google finds an AMP which doesn’t contain the same key content as the original page, Google will direct users to the original page instead of the AMP.
Google emphasizes that this will not affect the organic search ranking of the AMP.
However, AMPs that do not meet Google’s new policy will not be considered for search features that require AMP. This includes features outside of organic search, such as the Top Stories carousel.
Publishers found to be in violation of Google’s new AMP policy will receive a manual action notification in search console.
At that time, publishers will have the opportunity to correct the issue if they wish to have their AMPs featured in search again.
Why is Google Doing This?
When AMP technology was introduced two years ago, the goal was always to give searches access to full-length content at lightning fast speeds.
Some publishers have taken it upon themselves to use AMPs as teasers— presenting a snippet of content before directing users to click through to the original page.
Needless to say, making a user click through twice to access the content they want to see is slowing down the experience rather than speeding it up.
With that said, Google is implementing this policy change to help ensure the best user experience for searchers.
What Should Publishers Do?
Publishers currently in violation of Google’s forthcoming policy change technically do not have to do anything until February 1.
Although I would be remiss not to say it is always a recommended best practice to adhere to Google’s policy changes sooner than later.
As I see it, there are three options for publishers.
Make No Changes
If a publisher chooses to make no changes, then AMPs will not show up in places like the Top Stories carousel but will theoretically maintain their organic search rankings.
Conform to Google’s Policies
Another option is to conform to Google’s policy change by converting AMP teasers into full-length content. This should, in theory, help ensure AMPs continue to show up where they always have.
Ditch AMP Altogether
If a publisher doesn’t feel it’s worth their time and effort to create canonical AMPs for every original page, and AMPs have not been a significant traffic driver in organic search, then it may be time to ditch the technology altogether.
Publishers have just over two months to decide what to do. Of course, if AMPs and original pages already contain equivalent content then there is nothing to worry about.