How Does AMP Affect Google Top Stories Rankings?
Many SEO experts hold the notion that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are necessary to rank in Google’s Top stories. But just recently, professional SEO experts tested non-AMP versus AMP on Top stories performance and learned how it impacted the traffic of one of the biggest news publisher sites.
According to Google’s documentation, one’s content should be in AMP format with article-specific structured data to be featured in the mobile version’s Top stories. However, the search engine giant also announced that they would remove the AMP requirement from Top stories eligibility on mobile once they’ve launched the Page Experience ranking signals.
But in this case study, it was found that non-AMP pages have already been featured in Top stories – and some have been appearing there for quite some time now. In actuality, some news publishers have been ranking in the mobile Top stories without using AMP purely due to the relevance of their content.
Google revised their Core Web Vitals FAQ resource following the update, emphasising how search intent is still a very strong signal. Therefore, a piece of well-written, relevant content – even one with subpar page experience – can still rank high.
Then, in December 2019, the search engine company announced that publishers do not need to submit their website just to be eligible for the Google News app and website. Moreover, their sites are automatically considered for Google News or Top stories.
After these changes, SEO experts analysed how much non-AMP content is actually featured in Top stories. They found that about 5% to 8% of all mobile Top stories were non-AMP URLs, mostly from news publisher sites.
The increase in non-AMP URLs from 2020 to 2021 could have been caused by extensive major rollout tests on Google’s end. Now, the SEO community is left wondering if non-AMP content could get the same amount of traffic as AMP content.
Can non-AMP perform in Google Discover?
When the SEOs analysed the data, they found out that Google Discover clicks over time fluctuated just like with their search traffic. Despite the assumption that Google Discover requires AMP content, the case study revealed that the non-AMP pages received more clicks in February 2021 than in February 2020 when they were AMP. To conclude, the SEOs found out there was no negative effect on Google Discover performance if one were to remove AMP.
How does AMP compare to non-AMP with Core Web Vitals performance?
Google wrote in their Core Web Vitals FAQs that a signal for ranking only applies to mobile Search, and Search Console categorises page types from CrUX report data. Because of this, the SEOs used Google Search Console to compare non-AMP and AMP content.
They found out that there was a dramatic decrease in “good” URLs when AMP was turned off in February 2021. With their findings, there is a possibility that although AMP is not required for Top stories eligibility, it still scores perfectly with Core Web Vitals. It could mean that AMP content still has ranking benefits with page experience by default.
How will non-AMP compete with AMP?
AMP was created for page experience, but this is not the reason they score perfectly with Core Web Vitals. Rather, it is due to the AMP cache, which gives it an advantage over the typical mobile site. Therefore, it takes professional SEO experts to hand-tune non-AMP content for content stability, responsiveness, and mobile loading speed.
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