The Accelerated Mobile Pages project (AMP) is a website publishing technology developed by Google to help improve the performance of web content and advertisements. AMP is a direct competitor to Facebook’s Instant Articles, and includes several other large search, social and web publishing platforms around the world.
Google first began showing the AMP versions of web pages in mobile search results in February 2016. Initially, links to AMP pages were restricted to a “Top Stories” section of Google’s mobile search results, but by September 2016 AMP content began to appear in the main mobile search results area. AMP links in Google search are identified with a little lightning bolt icon.
According to Google:
The AMP Project is an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all. The project enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.
Propaganda aside, there’s a lot more to this story, and nobody tells it better than Nick Heer.
From The Bullshit Web by Nick Heer
The combination of huge images that serve little additional purpose than decoration, several scripts that track how far you scroll on a page, and dozens of scripts that are advertising related means that text-based webpages are now obese and torpid and excreting a casual contempt for visitors.
Given the assumption that any additional bandwidth offered to web developers will immediately be consumed, there seems to be just one possible solution, which is to reduce the amount of bytes that are transmitted. For some bizarre reason, this hasn’t happened on the main web, because it somehow makes more sense to create an exact copy of every page on their site that is expressly designed for speed. Welcome back, WAP — except, for some reason, this mobile-centric copy is entirely dependent on yet more bytes. This is the dumbfoundingly dumb premise of AMP.
<amp-img>, but will render them as
cdn.amp-project.org, which is a Google-owned domain. That makes an AMP website dependent on Google to display its basic markup, which is super weird for a platform as open as the web.
That belies the reason AMP has taken off. It isn’t necessarily because AMP pages are better for users, though that’s absolutely a consideration, but because Google wants it to be popular. When you search Google for anything remotely related to current events, you’ll see only AMP pages in the news carousel that sits above typical search results. You’ll also see AMP links crowding the first results page, too. Google has openly admitted that they promote AMP pages in their results and that the carousel is restricted to only AMP links on their mobile results page. They insist that this is because AMP pages are faster and, therefore, better for users, but that’s not a complete explanation for three reasons: AMP pages aren’t inherently faster than non-AMP pages, high-performing non-AMP pages are not mixed with AMP versions, and Google has a conflict of interest in promoting the format.
It seems ridiculous to argue that AMP pages aren’t actually faster than their plain HTML counterparts because it’s so easy to see these pages are actually very fast. And there’s a good reason for that. It isn’t that there’s some sort of special sauce that is being done with the AMP format, or some brilliant piece of programmatic rearchitecting. No, it’s just because AMP restricts the kinds of elements that can be used on a page and severely limits the scripts that can be used. That means that webpages can’t be littered with arbitrary and numerous tracking and advertiser scripts, and that, of course, leads to a dramatically faster page. […]
So: if you have a reasonably fast host and don’t litter your page with scripts, you, too, can have AMP-like results without creating a copy of your site dependent on Google and their slow crawl to gain control over the infrastructure of the web. But you can’t get into Google’s special promoted slots for AMP websites for reasons that are almost certainly driven by self-interest.
I wish I had something snarky to say, but I don’t. You really need to read the whole article — It’s glorious.