Google is working on an alternative to its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format requirement for websites that want to ensure their content continues to get proper placement in mobile search results.
Malte Ubl, Google's lead for the AMP Project on said March 8 that based on the company's experience with AMP so far, Google is now working on supporting mobile web content that’s not based on AMP technology.
However, the content will still need to follow specific, but as yet undetermined, web standards and meet a set of performance and user experience metrics, Ubl said in a blog on the Accelerated Mobile Pages project website.
"We are taking what we learned from AMP and are working on web standards that will allow instant loading for non-AMP web content," he said.
The standards include a Feature Policy mechanism that allows developers to enable or disable specific web browsers, Web Packaging to bundle website content and Paint Timing that allows developers to capture key metrics during page load.
Ubl however did not offer any sort of a timetable for when the change would happen. He merely noted that the pace of change would depend on the progress of mobile web standardization efforts and browser implementations.
AMP is an open source protocol for tweaking website content so it loads and runs faster on mobile devices. Google has said that AMP enabled websites load pages substantially faster than pages that are not optimized for mobile device viewing.
Google has been pushing content publishers across the web to adopt AMP and has said it would highlight and eventually rank AMP-enabled pages and sites higher in mobile search results than those that are not. Google has been highlighting AMP pages on its mobile search carousel for quite some time already.
AMP is a crucial part of Google's increasingly mobile-first strategy under which it eventually will start using a site's mobile content for search indexing and ranking purposes rather than the site's web content.
The company has positioned the whole effort around AMP as designed to enhance the mobile experience for users. Certainly some of the statistics that Google has released would suggest that sites using the technology have benefited substantially from having faster-loading mobile content. According to the company, many sites using the technology have reported big increases in click-through and in the number of returning mobile users.
However, for sites owners themselves, Google's insistence on AMP has meant either adding or changing code to their sites whether they want it or not, or risk falling off mobile search result rankings.
In his blog post, Ubl did not offer an explanation for Google's sudden willingness to accommodate non-AMP pages other than to say it is part of a broader effort designed to enhance user experiences on the web.
AMP will not however go away. It will continue to be what Ubl described as Google's "well-lit path" for enhancing mobile user experiences on the Web. "It will be just one of many choices, but it will be the one we recommend," he said.