Doc’s WordPress News Drop is a weekly report on the most pressing WordPress news. When the news drops, I will pick it up and deliver it right to you.
Doc Pop’s News Drop
This week we talk about Google’s AMP project. And by “talk”, I mean “rant” about how services like AMP, Apple News, and Facebook Instant Articles, might effect the open web.
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Google has officially rolled out AMP support in the mobile version of their search results. As a result, WordPress has released an AMP plugin and WordPress.com support to ensure that sites are AMP compliant. But should WordPress publishers embrace this new technology?
AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is Google’s open sourced attempt to standardized faster loading pages on mobile devices. This year, Google started integrating AMP pages into mobile search. Which means that websites that use this technology will get special designations in search and are more likely to be displayed in the “News” carousels that sometimes show up at the top of Google search results.
So if you type in “Downtown San Francisco news”, you may see these types of results at the top of your search results.
When users click these links they are taken to the AMP version of these pages, even if the user has that publisher’s news app already installed on their device.
Some see AMP as Google’s attempt at competing with Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles, all of which ask publishers to give up partial control of how they share their articles in exchange for getting in front of more mobile viewers.
But is it dangerous to give so much control of how we view our news to just a handful large companies?
Last year, Google made big changes to their search algorythm that lowered the rank of sites with slower load times. This change, referred to as Mobilegeddon, had devastating impact on sites just like mine, which were not optimized in the way Google deemed appropriate.
Currently, Google claims that their search results won’t factor in whether or not a site uses AMP, but when they inevetibally change their mind, and start lowering the ranking of non-AMP news sites next year, what could publishers possibly do to stop them?
The open web movement is all about being able to publish content online using the tools of your choice as well as being to consume that content however you like. It stands in opposition to proprietary platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and other walled gardens. At it’s core, WordPress is the very defender of these open web values. You don’t need to sign in to view articles, and you are welcome to publish/host/modify your WordPress site however you like.
Personally, it bums me out to see so many WordPress websites playing in these walled gardens by embracing Facebook Instant Articles and AMP.
On the other hand, who can blame them? Even if it doesn’t have the publisher’s best interest in mind, consumers love this new technology. I don’t really use Facebook, but Apple News is usually the first place I go when I’m searching for a breaking story. And if I was searching on Google, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to find a link that goes directly to a publishers website if the AMP version was the first link I saw.
Is this the end of the open web? At least the open web for mobile? And if it is, how long will it take before the rest of the web follows, leaving just a few portals to how we get our news?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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