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The Road to Oblivion (Thanks to Google)

Reading Henry Powderly's editorial piece We’re turning off AMP pages at Search Engine Land proved enlightening, to me at least:

"Gasp! Think of the traffic!"

That's a pretty accurate account of the more than two dozen conversations we've had about Search Engine Land's support of Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages in the past few years. At first, it was about the headache in managing the separate codebase AMP requires as well as the havoc AMP wreaks on analytics when a nice chunk of your audience's time is spent on an external server not connected to your own site. But, Google's decision to no longer require AMP for inclusion in the Top Stories carousels gave us a new reason to question the wisdom of supporting AMP.

So, this Friday, we're turning it off.

I've read a lot of critique from the web development community about AMP, but this article is a summary of the view from the marketing side.

Publishers have been reluctant to remove AMP because of the unknown effect it may have on traffic. But what our data seemed to tell us was there was just as much risk on the other side. We could keep AMP pages, which we know have good experience by Google standards, and their visibility would fall anyway due to competition in Top Stories and waning support by social media platforms.

We know what a road to oblivion looks like, and our data suggests AMP visibility is on that path. Rather than ride that to nowhere, we decided to turn off AMP and take back control of our data.

Cynical old me would suggest that this reluctance from publishers serves Google well, as it means they can claim they're moving away from AMP while still benefitting from it (at the expense of publishers, it would appear.)

And from reading the summary of what Search Engine Land have to do in order to decouple their site from AMP, that benefit could last for a long time.

I found the final two paragraphs particularly depressing:

The relationship between publishers and platforms is dysfunctional at best. The newsstands of old are today's "news feeds" and publishers have been blindsided again and again when platforms change the rules. We probably knew allowing a search platform to host our content on its own servers was doomed to implode, but audience is our lifeblood so can you blame us for buying in?

We also know that tying our fates to third party platforms can be as risky as not participating in them at all. But when it comes to supporting AMP on Search Engine Land, we're going to pass. We just want our content back.

I would argue that the biggest risk of all is that Google is in a position to control who can find your website, no matter who you are. AMP may be gone, but Core Web Vitals is just another hoop for publishers to jump through, primarily for Google's pleasure.

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