back to article Good news: Google no longer requires publishers to use the AMP format. Bad news: What replaces it might be worse

Google stopped prioritising Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format in its Top News carousel last month. This means website owners no longer need to publish an extra set of pages written in the AMP format. Instead sites need to meet what Google calls "Core Web Vitals." This sounds like great news. As a long-time critic of Google …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

    As I read this article, the author is complaining that AMP redirects my click to a Google-cached page, and its successor does the same thing.

    Except that I use ClearURLs. That is a Firefox addon that removes all extraneous, useless stuff from the link I want to click on.

    So I have never been impacted by AMP. When I click on a link, ClearURLs ensures that I get to the page that was intended : the one on the website I wanted to visit, not Google's cached version of it.

    The Internet remains the Internet. If you do a little bit of research, you can have the experience you want, not the experience other entities want for you.

    1. TechHeadToo

      Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

      And how many of the manipulated public can spell URL, let alone know what it is or how it works, so no chance of them avoiding google.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

        When I click on a link, ClearURLs ensures that I get to the page that was intended : the one on the website I wanted to visit, not Google's cached version of it.

        The Internet remains the Internet. If you do a little bit of research, you can have the experience you want, not the experience other entities want for you.

        By posting on this site I assume you're technically and technologically literate. Therefore I would expect you to know how to defeat AMP. Think about those for a moment that don't have the same technology smarts as you. I've got older relatives who would find installing a browser addon a problem. I've got one who can do most things but is only just getting to grips with cut and paste. Expecting them to have an AMP blocker installed is like expecting my numbers to come up on the lottery - possible but very very unlikely. Your argument is along the lines of "it doesn't affect me so there isn't a problem?"

        I've got an AMP blocker and other addons installed but that doesn't mean the problem has gone away for everyone else. I've actively told friends, family and colleagues about AMP and how to get rid of it from their browsing*. How about you?

        *not all of them followed the advice though.

      2. My-Handle Silver badge

        Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

        Just to substantiate your point, not all that many years ago I was in exactly that place. I am not stupid, but at that point I was not technically literate. I watched a college friend of mine type in a URL manually (with all the extra parameters) and it was like magic. I remarked at the time that I would have no idea what to type there.

        Now, having learned how it works, I do.

        So as you say, even smart people have no chance of defeating AMP unless they're technically literate.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

      Your solution is akin to:

      "I take strong pain killers, so when they hit me I don't feel anything! It's all good!"

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

      "If you do a little bit of research"

      I think we've only just moved beyond "the internet is that little blue 'e' thingy", so what you suggest may be perfectly logical for people that read this, for the other 99.9% of humanity it's a different story.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

      Articles like this are useful because they explain it in detail so non technical people can have some understanding of what's happening. I have many intelligent friends who I could ask them what AMP is and they wouldn't have a clue. Likewise they wouldn't think to use a redirect add-on and probably wouldn't install it anyway. Even if they did next time the change whatever device they are using they wouldn't think to do it again. That's why you need to take the task of fixing it to the people doing it.

    5. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

      Do you mean Google's cached version, or the publisher's AMP version? What happens if you need to access the cached version, do you have to disable the extension?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

      That's just as stupid as saying "adverts and tracking are not issues on the web because I use adblock and noscript"

    7. PassiveSmoking

      Re: AMP is not a problem, nor is its replacement

      And your doddering Aunt Tillie who barely knows how to use a mouse is fully aware of how to install FireFox plugins, right?

      Just because you're tech-savvy enough to circumvent it doesn't mean it's not a problem.

  2. Dave559 Silver badge

    Well said

    Well said! All of these (ever-changing) things that Google dreams up are just hoops for web developers to have to jump through, like performing dogs. I at least half wonder that they keep churning these things out to keep developers sufficiently busy bending to Google's will that nobody ever has time to stop and think, "Hmm, is there maybe a better, more neutral, way of doing this sort of thing, or even, is it actually really necessary…"?

    How much time and effort will CMS developers (and custom site developers) have had to expend in order to add in support for AMP, and now how much time will have to be spent/wasted to support this latest "hot new thing"? Of course, it's more than likely that it too will be replaced be something newier and (allegedly) shinier after a couple of years? Here's a name they can have for free for the next incarnation: Advanced Dynamic Hypertext Documents, perhaps called ADHD for short (which seems to sum up their approach to many of their inventions all too well)?

    Of course, much of the media is its own worst enemy, salivating over any and all news from Google. Perhaps the media (that part without sharp beaks, anyway) needs to remind its readers and listeners that diversity is a good thing: many other decent, and less evil, search engines exist, and so perhaps people should be encouraged to use them more, to get a less biased picture of the web, rather than only those sites that jump through the hoops to please Google's search results?

    1. Philip Storry

      Re: Well said

      If it wasn't Google, it would be someone else.

      Let's go way back to the mid 90s, and what Microsoft was doing. Remember the Active Desktop? And the Channels that you could put on them? They were kind of like RSS feeds, but less well supported.

      Let's imagine for a moment a world in which Microsoft got what it wanted. Your phone runs Windows CE/Mobile, just like everyone else in the world's does. Active Desktop and Channels weren't a glorious failure. Web sites all have Channels because that's what you have to do - if you don't, then Bing won't promote your content in its results.

      Does anyone here want to say that the Channels spec won't be being fiddled about with by Microsoft in this scenario? That they won't be shipping "improvements" that mean work for everyone else?

      I don't think this is anything but capitalism. Swap Google out for some other company, and the same thing would probably be happening.

      The names of the players may change, but the play itself remains constant...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The names of the players may change, but the play itself remains constant...

        That's not a reason to just give up and stay silent and passive.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Well said

        "If it wasn't Google, it would be someone else."

        Supposition, but I'll get back to that. For starters, so what? Because some other company would do the same thing, this means what? It's okay because you don't think we could avoid it? We should ban all companies because any of them would do it? What exactly are we supposed to do with your gloomy assumption that anyone would do the same, and it involves treating this real situation any differently, why should your assumption prevent us objecting to and taking action against Google?

        Also, I don't think everybody would do the same. Not every company works the same way. Your example is one of them. 1990s-style Microsoft would, if it had a massive monopoly on everything, have several very negative things, but it probably wouldn't be so intent on monopolizing data. 1990s Microsoft was more in the business of monopolizing money, and they might think it's just fine to let people use servers as they were designed since they were getting all the money from people buying computers and phones. Or maybe I'm wrong, but you can't prove it any more than you can prove your idea. Not every company acts the same if given a monopoly position. You can usually guarantee that they will do something bad, but the specific bad thing depends on who is running the place and what their business plan is.

      3. iron Silver badge

        Re: Well said

        If I don't do it someone else will is not a good argument for doing something. Logic like that votes for facists, leaving the EU and reality TV personalitlies that want to be President.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Well said

      "I at least half wonder that they keep churning these things out to keep developers sufficiently busy bending to Google's will that nobody ever has time to stop and think,..."

      It's called conditioning, and it's been used successfully for ages to get folks to do what you want. It's the "Brave New" World" approach rather than the "1984". Get them to do it because it's the only choice they know. And once you've got them by the balls, who gives a tinkers' cuss about their hearts and minds?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Well said

        Conditioning? Nah Grooming!

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Anti-trust

    The goal of AMP was to starve companies using ad providers other than Ad Sense.

    It looks like Google got scared of incoming anti-trust lawsuits and preemptively killed AMP hoping the matter will be closed.

    Another problem is that our regulators seem to be shy and feel intimidated when it comes to dealing with such companies. Maybe it's time to give them more powers?

    At the end of the day, we don't want one stagnant big company, but thousands of small and medium businesses competing with each other.

    They should be looking into splitting Google, Apple, Amazon and the likes.

    1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

      Re: Anti-trust

      Yes they are shy for the simple reason that Google, just as most any of the Big Tech companies, has donated large sums of money, year in and year out, to Congresscritters. If you don't follow through after the donation, well you aren't likely to get a donation next year.

      1. Arthur 1

        Re: Anti-trust

        I recall many years ago, back before they really spent on lobbying because they were a smaller company, I'd heard Google did a study to try to figure out where to allocate suddenly accumulating money based on projected returns. Allegedly lobbying won by a landslide, where the next marginal dollar returned several hundred thousand net present dollars.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anti-trust

        The EU isn't scared or bought off. It would be great if the UK could join such an institution.

  4. Ace2

    Use Bing!

    It works just fine. Really! I live a perfectly pleasant life, no negative long-term effects.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Use Bing!

      Apart from the utter, utter feeling of shame?

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Use Bing!

        I use Bing translate over the Google equivalent. Both are crap, but in different ways.

        -A.

        1. Eguro
          Meh

          Re: Use Bing!

          It's DeepL for me with regards to translation...

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Use Bing!

      Bing has come on a long way and for image search, I use it over Google* everytime. If anything use it because it's NOT Google.

      *this includes proxied ones such as Start page.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Use Bing!

        If you have a specific fetish that you want to see images of, Bing beats Google hands down.

        1. djnapkin

          Re: Use Bing!

          > If you have a specific fetish that you want to see images of, Bing beats Google hands down.

          Absolutely. I reckon if I searched for "turtle" Bing would give me pictures of them humping or whatever it's called with turtles.

          Back on topic though,. it really gripes me how much Javascript is in web pages and yes, as a web developer, I agree it is totally due to lazy programmers.

        2. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: Use Bing!

          If only Anonymous users could use the joke icon...

    3. jamesb2147

      Re: Use Bing!

      Yes, please give your search business to another Tech Titan! They need more users to abuse!

      /s

      DuckDuckGo is reasonable without the compromises of being tied to an abusive monopoly.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Use Bing!

        And reuses Bing's results in case you have a wield fetish like PERL...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will the Register lead the way?

    This posted on their Twitter feed

    https://www.theregister.com/ AMP /2021/06/28/cma_law_society/?__twitter_impression=true

    1. _andrew

      Re: Will the Register lead the way?

      At least the Register has stopped infesting their own RSS feed with AMP links. The (relatively brief) period where that was happening was the only time I've seen an AMP version of a Register article.

      I've long since given up extrapolating to the community from my own experience, but I am still surprised that a tech news site like the Reg gets any significant fraction of its traffic from search engine referrals. Surely most comes from feed readers or bookmarks? Both of those are mechanisms of the open web and have nothing to do with search engines.

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        Re: Will the Register lead the way?

        The Register is a site/publication that has been around long enough that it has probably built up a good reader base over a long time through word of mouth. There is a lot to be said for "first mover advantage". I think I first heard about The Reg when someone posted a link to an interesting article, on a usenet newsgroup, and I found it useful and interesting enough a site that I added it to my browser bookmarks, like you say, but every new website starting up, or wanting to attract new readers, still needs to get its message out somehow.

        Word of mouth (or social network sharing, as it more commonly is nowadays) helps a lot, and is probably the most useful way (people are more likely to trust links passed on by other people whom they already know), but it still never hurts to have your site indexed by search engines, to possibly pick up new readers who might not otherwise already know about a site, but who come across an article in the search results for a topic of interest that they were searching about.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Will the Register lead the way?

          I came for the tales of the homicidal megalomaniac sys admin, I stayed for the at times good stories and SPB (RIP Lester).

  6. DS999 Silver badge

    We no longer need "accelerated" mobile pages

    Back when smartphones had a fraction of the memory, performance and bandwidth of a desktop PC we needed help. Now that smartphones are on par with PCs in all those categories while some help may be needed in dealing with the much smaller display, no special "acceleration" is needed.

    Google probably realizes they can't keep using that excuse any longer, so they are switching to a different proprietary scheme. Sort of like how they announced (but have since pushed back) they are getting rid of third party cookies in Chrome, but replacing them with something worse.

    If the antitrust stuff in the US accomplishes nothing else, it needs to force Google to divest Chrome and Android, and bar them from future involvement in the browser or mobile client market. A company with multiple monopolies and near monopolies on the server side cannot be allowed to have any involvement on the client end, let alone two near monopolies there as well.

    A vertical market is one thing, what they are doing is at another level. They are dangerously close to effectively owning the entire world wide web and dictating who has access and on what terms.

  7. Arthur 1

    Regulator

    Between these projects and all the various other 'ensure the health of the internet' projects where Google seems to drive definitions of health according to their own needs, I'm starting to feel like Google is the most amazing example of regulatory capture we've ever seen.

    In an unregulated industry, this company has leveraged a monopoly in one segment (search) to turn itself into a regulator for all the other segments, thus creating a regulated industry it has pre-captured.

    Well done lads.

  8. sreynolds

    Sometimes you cannot see the forest because of the trees

    The real problem is Javascript.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes you cannot see the forest because of the trees

      The real problem is bad website design. Nightmarish bad.

      So much cruft, so little need for it.

      1. Stanislav Bonita

        Re: Sometimes you cannot see the forest because of the trees

        The real problem is Google.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Sometimes you cannot see the forest because of the trees

          These are all real problems.

          It might be noted that while Microsoft invented XHR, which in turn led to AJAX and RIAs and SPAs and the rest of the "application in a browser" nightmare, it was Google that popularized it, by using it for something (GMail) that enough users actually liked.

          It's a bit harder to argue that Google bear as much responsibility for bad website design, though creating perverse incentives for distractions such as SEO certainly didn't help. And Google were a major force in WHAT-WG and HTML 5 (not to mention protocol-level wheel-reinventions such as QUIC and SPDY), which in turn were major contributors to the Ever More Shiny development milieu.

  9. matjaggard

    Google's possible motivation

    I can imagine someone at Google complaining that crawling webpages is too slow. How can we fix this they think - let's make a rule that all webpages must be fully loaded in half a second, that will speed it up. OK, but let's start a bit higher and work our way down.

  10. Rob 15

    Latency

    I thought low page latency is something any decent web developer or organisation would strive for, i.e. the opposite of most news sites. Other vitals would include 'not covering the page in crap making it impossible to read' (take a look at the Evening Standard website). So because Google is asking for low latency and other metrics it's evil? Or is the evil bit that it has a way of enforcing that in return for exposure?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Latency

      You think Google dictating an arbitrary set of terms is a good idea?

      Personally, I've never used Google's "Top News" or whatever other nonsense they've used to push AMP and other versions of Do It The Google Way. But I'm certainly not keen on Yet Another move by Google to pressure the web into following their vision.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Latency

      "So because Google is asking for low latency and other metrics it's evil? Or is the evil bit that it has a way of enforcing that in return for exposure?"

      The evil bit is that it's most likely a lie. Last time, the excuse was mobile-ready pages and caching and look the caching is free and we send more readers your way, but the real reason was to kill off other ad providers, grab data about news preferences, and have control over the user's news consumption if they got into a routine. This time, it's still using latency as the excuse but what that really means isn't known since Google decides and doesn't make public whatever that means. It easily could mean that they're still advantaging their ad system because they've cached it while others have to load. We don't know. All we know is they've repeatedly proven untrustworthy before.

    3. PassiveSmoking

      Re: Latency

      > So because Google is asking for low latency and other metrics it's evil?

      No, of course not. But that's not the point of AMP. Reduced latency is just the carrot Google use to sell AMP to otherwise sceptical people, that along with the (recently dropped) SEO benefits.

      Google is evil because AMP

      a) takes traffic away from the content creator and instead sends it to Google

      b) makes it difficult for content creators to make money from any ads that aren't supplied by Google

      c) hides where content really comes from which is bad because

      i) The people who do the work making the stuff you want to see don't get credit

      ii) It lends an air of inappropriate legitimacy to crank sites that push all kinds of BS because the URL has "google" in it instead of "totally-not-a-propaganda-farm.ru"

      d) hampers the adoption of open standards that might actually improve the web experience for everybody

      e) Allows Google to harvest even more data about you and your browsing habits

      f) encourages the creation of pages that fail at accessibility (for example you couldn't pinch-zoom AMP pages for the longest time in mobile browsers, the supposed target market for AMP in the first place)

  11. PassiveSmoking

    Accessibility

    AMP was also bad for accessibility. For some perverse reason you couldn't pinch-zoom AMP pages in a phone web browser for the longest time, so if you're visually impaired you'd have to fall back on whatever accessibility features your phone's OS provided (which wasn't much if you were an Android user).

    I literally couldn't read AMP pages on the devices they were being supposedly optimised for. I HATE AMP and the sooner it dies an ignominious death, the better.

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