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AMP: Will it Become a Ranking Signal?

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Tyler Thursby
Tyler Thursby
AMP: Will it Become a Ranking Signal?

By now you’re probably familiar with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Google’s open source initiative designed to deliver mobile optimized content at lightning speed.

AMP has undergone many significant changes since first introduced in October of 2015, leading many digital marketers to question what its future holds.

It certainly begs the question, will AMP eventually become a ranking signal?

To be clear, Google currently indicates AMP is currently not a ranking factor.  Be that as it may, this article will provide a short list of things to consider to show this policy is subject to change.

Let’s start reading the tea leaves, shall we?

1. The Push for HTTPS

AMP has grown significantly since first adopted into Google’s search results.

AMP was formerly restricted to a carousel within mobile search results:

amp page bernie sanders

… but has recently broken into organic results.  Notice the familiar lightning bolt icon below:

organic amp results in google

That’s a significant jump in less than a year.

2. The Push for HTTPS

Google has previously displayed a willingness to leave the door open to policy changes when it comes to their ranking signals. A perfect example of this is their stance on HTTPS/SSL sites.

When HTTPS/SSL sites started rising in popularity, Google’s Matt Cutts expressed interest in providing secure sites with a ranking benefit.

Fast forward a few short months later, Google announced HTTPS as a ranking signal on their official blog.

This might seem like a classic case of comparing apples to oranges until you stop and consider similarly ambiguous statements Google has made regarding AMP.

Google’s John Mueller was quoted as saying, “At the moment, [AMP] is not a ranking signal,” a statement teeming with subtext.

We may not see AMP become the minor ranking signal HTTPS/SSL sites became, but the situation is certainly starting to fit a familiar mold.

3. The Momentum of Mobile

How often do you check your phone every day?

Compare this with the number of times you fire up your desktop computer (assuming you even use one) and it should give you a better sense of why mobile users are dominating search results.

Mobile search traffic continues to surpass traditional desktop, driving the need for . If Google users want answers to mobile search queries as fast as possible, why wouldn’t it become a ranking signal?

The Future of AMP

Should AMP become an official ranking signal?

The answer depends on who you ask.

From Google’s perspective, it makes sense to modify search results to accommodate an increasingly mobile user base.

Google has always been a champion of the user experience, a fundamental strategy that occasionally puts them at odds with website developers.

Google’s recent mobile-friendly update is a good example of this complicated relationship. Many believed the update signaled the ‘end of times’ for non-responsive sites, earning it the dubious distinction of Mobilegeddon.

Webmasters made a considerable investment of their resources to accommodate Google’s push toward responsive design, abiding by one simple tenet: become mobile-friendly or get left behind.

Depending on how you look at the situation, AMP may be a natural progression of responsive design or an admission of its failure.

It’s entirely possible that responsive design failed to produce the speeds Google sought to provide mobile users, resulting in AMP. Perhaps there’s more work to be done, something that doesn’t sit well with some developers.

Whatever the case, some argue the existence of AMP devalues modern capabilities of the web.

Yoast’s Joost de Valk suggests, “Let’s compare this to a race car. If you want to make a race car faster, you give it a faster engine and you strip all the weight. In this weight stripping you also remove things like back seats, air conditioning, etc. AMP is not unlike that. It’s the trimmed down version of a normal web, because Google cares for speed more than for nifty features.”

Webmasters feel as though they’re being forced to go back in time to a place where websites resembled something like this …

cnn archived site

“AMP throws away years of advancement, with the only goal being to make the web faster,” adds Joost de Valk.

Will AMP eventually become a ranking signal?

It may be less a question of if so much as when.

 

Image Credits

Featured Image: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels.com
Screenshots by Tyler Thursby. Taken August 2016.

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Tyler Thursby

Tyler Thursby

Senior SEO Analyst at Zion & Zion

Tyler is the resident SEO nerd at Zion & Zion, a full-service marketing agency based in Tempe, AZ. He loves ... [Read full bio]

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