Don't Delete AMP Just Yet!!

You have read the news; Google is removing AMP requirement for Top Stories eligibility starting May 2021. There is a heated discussion online where some SEOs can't wait to remove AMP while others are skeptical. 

We have started tracking the % share of non-AMP stories in Top Stories in preparation of the move. So far our data at newzdash.com indicates that about 93-95% of all Top Stories are AMP URLs and +65% of Google Discover URLs are AMP. The numbers have been consistent for a while.  

  

It is interesting to see that the majority of non-AMP URLs in US Mobile are in Sports and the lowest are in Health.

News Section Share (non-AMP share in Total URLs)

US Sports
US Tech & Sci
US Business
US Entertainment
US Health

8%
5%
5%
4%
2%

Comparing this to Germany, the numbers are still quiet low:

News Section

Share (non-AMP share in Total URLs)

Deutschland Entertainment
Deutschland Sports
Deutschland Business
Deutschland Tech

1%
1%
0%
0%

It was crazy to see sports that high, after analyzing the top non-AMP domains visibility in Top Stories it was clear why; NHL.com has no AMP URLs and Google makes sure new from NHL appears in Top Stories as they have high relevancy and authority when it comes to NHL related queries.

My theory is non-AMP URLs are present in Top Stories now due to the lack of AMP URLs in some sites that are important for Google to display for certain queries due to relevancy and user expectations.

The top sites with the most non-AMP appearances in US Mobile Top Stories are

Domain  Share
www.nhl.com
www.epicgames.com
www.npr.org
www.nasa.gov
www.explica.co
news.xbox.com
www.bloomberg.com
www.cdc.gov
apnews.com
apod.nasa.gov
www.mlb.com
www.callofduty.com
mars.nasa.gov
www.espn.com
4%
3%
3%
3%
3%
2%
2%
2%
2%
1%
1%
1%
1%
1%

 

Don't get me wrong, both US and Germany have similar share of non-AMP URLs, in US it is just highly visible in Sports. Many URLs belong to uncategorized News Sections.

Take the two searches below for "Jeremy Stephens" and "Kamaru Usman" done few days ago in Google US Mobile, Google displays non-AMP URLs for the whole Top Stories carousel:

 
 

Don't remove AMP with out the proper testing plan

If you are going to Keep AMP: 

  • Optimize your AMP pages; AMP pages can still be slow!! We believe AMP pages will be evaluated against non-AMP pages some-what-equally when it comes to Core Web Vitals

If you are getting rid of AMP: 

  • Optimize Your Mobile Pages to be on bar or better than AMP
  • Test removing AMP X-Days after story is published and examine traffic. This way you get the Top Stories traffic through AMP. This will enable you to analyze evergreen traffic impacted by removing AMP
  • Test removing AMP from one section and examine traffic
  • If all good, test with few additional section then do the whole site
     

How to remove AMP from your site safely?

There are three options for removing AMP content:

  1. Quickly remove all versions of a page, including the AMP and canonical non-AMP pages
  2. Remove only the AMP page that is paired with a canonical non-AMP page, while keeping the canonical non-AMP page live

    Caution: Don't remove AMP content by simply deleting content in the file. Documents that are empty and missing all markup are considered invalid. When Google Search recognizes that a document is invalid, Google Search continues to serve the oldest valid version that's available.
    • Remove the rel="amphtml" link from the canonical non-AMP page in the source code.

    • Configure your server to return either an HTTP 301 Moved Permanently or 302 Found response for the removed AMP page.

    • Configure a redirect from the removed AMP page to the canonical non-AMP page.

    • If you want to remove an AMP page from non-Google platforms in addition to removing from Google Search, complete the steps below:

      • Remove your AMP page so that it is no longer accessible by configuring your server to send an HTTP 404 Not Found for your removed AMP page. This ensures that the Google AMP Cache doesn't serve stale content to other platforms.

      • Update the Google AMP Cache to ensure that your AMP content is removed from the cache.

      • Verify the removal of your AMP page by searching for your content using Google Search. To verify the removal of a large number of AMP pages, use the AMP status report in Search Console. Watch for a decreasing trendline on the "indexed AMP pages" graph.

      • If you want to keep permalinks active, configure your server to send an HTTP 301 Redirect for your removed AMP page to your canonical non-AMP page.

  3. Remove AMP content with a CMS (with options to remove all versions of a page, or only the AMP version)
    • Generally, CMS providers publish AMP and non-AMP pages at the same time. To remove a single page, unpublish or delete the page, which removes both the AMP and non-AMP versions of that page.
    • Delete a single page

    • Remove all AMP pages

      • Another option is to disable AMP from your CMS.

 

Recently Google published an important update on Core Web Vitals especially around AMP and Top Stories. The biggest revelation is Core Web Vitals are not a perquisite to Top Stories inclusion.

  1. You are eligible for Top Stories even if your webpage is not passing Core Web Vitals. All web pages irrespective of their page experience status or Core Web Vitals score are eligible for Top Stories carousel. Compliance with Google News content policies will be the only requirement.
  2. AMP has never been a ranking signal, and is not becoming one; it is a framework site owners can use to build highly performing web pages to help improve page experience..
  3. Having AMP pages doesn't mean good page experience. Check how to optimize AMP, served from both the publisher’s site or via an AMP cache, for Core Web Vitals. Read this post.
  4. Check if your AMP pages have a good page experience by using the AMP Page experience Guide tool https://amp.dev/page-experience/ It provides actionable information on how to improve AMP pages. Notify Google If an AMP page does not pass Core Web Vitals and there is no actionable feedback available. 
  5. The page experience ranking signals for a page are determined by the REAL traffic pages receive. In the case of AMP, this means that pages could be served from either the publisher's origin or via an AMP cache, depending on how the user encounters the content.
  6. The page experience signals are designed to reflect how users experience the web. Therefore, Google includes visits attributed to the Google AMP viewer in the data for an AMP URL. In the case of Paired AMP, the canonical non-AMP page is attributed independently.
  7. If publishers do consider moving away from AMP, there is likely to be some investment needed to have a good page experience. Make sure you read https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/remove-amp
  8. With the upcoming change to Top Stories, any news publisher’s content whether via AMP or another technology is ELIGIBLE provided it complies with Google News content policies. Page Experience criteria will be one of the ranking factors that determine if the content shows up.
  9. Even if AMP pages don’t have a good page experience, they are still eligible for the Top Stories Carousel. Any content that meets the Google News content policies is eligible to be displayed in the Top Stories carousel.
  10. Publishers should be focused on making improvements to page experience a relative priority over time as page experience ranking becomes the norm that users expect and other publishers would want to match.
  11. Google Discover shows a lot of AMP content. AMP is not a requirement nor a ranking factor. AMP pages are automatically eligible to show larger thumbnails in Article cards - have a higher CTR. If you go off AMP, make larger images available to Google for your non-AMP content

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