Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
Google will change AMP display to make it easier to find & share publishers’ direct URLs
Change will be to the header in AMP content, expected in early 2017.
Early next year, Google will make it easier for those viewing AMP content in its search results to find and share URLs that lead directly back to publishers, rather than to Google itself.
Currently, AMP content — accelerated mobile pages — are loaded differently by Google than regular content. Clicking on regular content generally takes people away from Google and to publishers’ sites. Clicking on AMP content keeps people at Google, with a Google URL appearing for that content.
Showing a Google URL can be confusing to those who want to share AMP content and don’t understand why a publisher’s URL isn’t showing. It’s also a concern to publishers who may feel that Google is making it harder for their content to be shared and bookmarked, as we’ve covered earlier.
As a solution, Google has told Search Engine Land that it plans to change the header that appears above AMP content. Currently, this header shows the domain of a publisher’s site, as illustrated below.
The current domain that’s shown isn’t clickable and is for the site in general, not for the actual AMP content. The goal is to alter the header so that people can more easily see and copy the actual URL of a publisher’s story, as well as perhaps options to share it through social media.
Google doesn’t have an exact date for when the change will happen, but it is optimistic this will be in early 2017.
Why Google loads AMP within its own site
Another different solution would be for Google to stop loading AMP content within its own site. However, Google said that by keeping things within Google, it greatly increases the speed of these pages, making them appear almost instantaneously, in some cases. Google also said the system it uses protects privacy.
AMP pages are prerendered by Google. This means that after a search is conducted, AMP pages in the listings are automatically loaded in the background, before a user even clicks on any of them. That ensures if a click happens on a particular AMP listing, the page appears lightning fast.
Google prerenders by loading from its own cache and serving up AMP pages under its own domain. This protects privacy, the company said, because prerendering by loading off a publisher’s site might make it appear to the publisher and any tracking codes used as if someone actually visited that page.
By prerendering through Google’s own domain, publishers effectively don’t register a visit until someone actually performs a click on their content from search results.
Google said that using prerending in combination with its own cache means pages load nearly instantly. Without prerendering and just using its own cache, pages might load between 1-2 seconds. Using direct URLs to AMP content hosted on publisher sites would see pages load in 3-5 seconds on good connections or much longer on bad ones.
While using publisher URLs would still load AMP pages pretty fast, and provide more reassurance to nervous publishers, making URLs more visible to copy and share may be enough to satisfy most concerns.