Last week we published an article showing marketers are in no rush to adopt Accelerated Mobile pages (AMP). In that article we also said we’re confident the number of marketers signing up to AMP will increase – mostly because of the various ranking boosts Google will promise in return.

It wouldn’t be the first time either. Google has the advantage of being able to dangle a ranking boost in front of website owners’ faces and wait for them to do as it pleases. We can’t help wondering if Bing would have the same luck pulling that trick. But how far would you go for the promise of a ranking boost?

Google’s push for a fast, secure mobile web

So far, Google’s biggest ranking bonuses have come from its mobile update (Mobilegeddon), it’s secure encryption boost and now AMP.

We should make it clear Google hasn’t confirmed any official ranking boost for AMP pages, but it has hinted at making it a ranking factor. That aside, it’s pretty hard to say this isn’t a ranking boost:

boost

Sitting above organic search results without a single ad in sight is as high as you can get on a Google results page, simple as that. How this will pan out when the majority of content is AMP we don’t know, but that’s one hell of an incentive to sign up.

So what’s the end game with these nudges towards Google policies on mobile-friendliness, secure encryption and AMP? Of course, it all comes down to Google’s model of a mobile web where it can target users with ads at every opportunity.

The problem for Google is the steps it wants to take now are starting to tread on the toes of website owners and businesses.

AMP, for example, comes with the drawback of handing your content over to Google’s servers. This means the traffic isn’t technically yours until a user clicks a link directing to one of your pages. There’s also the fact users can swipe from your AMP article to the next in Google’s list with a single slide of the finger. Mobile traffic from Google just got a whole lot harder to get (again).

 

The free traffic crunch

The reality is the days of free traffic are coming to an end. Or, more accurate, the days of traffic Google, Facebook and co. can’t make a profit from are coming to an end. If free traffic comes your way from Google, then it’s going to have to have some advertising potential for the tech giant.

This is basically what Google’s push for a mobile web all comes down to. AMP is no exception either. It will allow Google to deliver more ads to mobile users and deliver them faster. So there’s a sense of irony in following the latest Google developments for the sake of a small boost to organic ranking. Because each step moves the search giant away from providing organic traffic

Google isn’t alone, of course. Facebook has been phasing out organic reach for years – it makes perfect business sense.

 

Google still calling the shots, not users

We don’t want to suggest you shouldn’t take the necessary steps to improve your search ranking. Instead, we’d like to see more of these decisions being made for the benefit of users, not because Google calls the shots.

It’s a tough habit to break out of, we know, but it’s precisely that mentality that has given Google such an unhealthy influence over the web. When Google announced it’s mobile-friendly update (in a way it never announces updates) site owners scrambled to get optimised for mobile. That’s kind of sad when it should be user experience that dictates those kind of design changes.

And now that Google has come along and said AMP is the future, the entire community is suddenly talking about creating faster pages. Which is something you should be doing for users anyway, not for Google’s next advertising model.