Google is set to crack down on AMP pages that don’t match the content on publishers’ original pages. Last week, Google announced on the Webmaster Central Blog that it is making changes to its policies con content parity, which states that content on AMP pages should be almost identical to the original page on your website.
Content parity has always been an AMP requirement but Google is stepping up its enforcement as of February 2018. As always, Google says the move is to improve the experience for users – and there is justification for that – but it also happens to mean you can’t AMP pages as a gateway to their website anymore.
Google cracking down on AMP gateway pages
Before we expand on the changes, here’s what Google has to say about them:
“To improve our users’ experience with AMP results, we are making changes to how we enforce our policy on content parity with AMP. Starting Feb 1, 2018, the policy requires that the AMP page content be comparable to the (original) canonical page content. AMP is not a ranking signal and there is no change in terms of the ranking policy with respect to AMP.”
So Google is quick to reinforce the fact that AMP is not a ranking factor. The upcoming changes don’t mean you’ll get penalised for any disparage between the content on your AMP and respective pages. You’ll simply lose your AMP visibility for any pages deemed to break the policy.
Google also elaborates on how the changes will improve the user experience of AMP:
“In some cases, webmasters publish two versions of their content: a canonical page that is not based on AMP and an AMP page… In a small number of cases, AMP pages are used as teaser pages which create a particularly bad user experience since they only contain minimal content. In these instances, users have to click twice to get to the real content.”
Those are fair points raised by Google. Using AMP as a gateway to your website negatively impacts the experience by adding unnecessary clicks.
Publishers’ AMP concerns
That said, AMP makes it unnecessarily difficult for users to click through to a publishers site – and sometimes there’s good reason to want to do so. For example, reading the comments section or viewing images that fail to load in AMP.
However, the main reason publishers might want to use AMP as a gateway is because they don’t like the idea of not getting the traffic their headlines earn. This is understandable. Another reason could be publishers wanting the get the visibility perks of AMP visibility in Google Search without losing out on traffic.
Google isn’t really complaining about publishers who create AMP pages with completely different content to the original page – some kind of bizarre AMP spam that wouldn’t hold much benefit for anyone who tried it. Instead, Google is cracking down on publishers who try to use the platform without surrendering their traffic in return. Which reinforces the criticism that Google is using AMP as a walled garden tactic to keep users locked into its platform – by taking publishers’ content and their traffic.