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News SEO: Why we’ve de commissioned AMP - Brighton SEO September 2021

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News SEO: Why we’ve de commissioned AMP - Brighton SEO September 2021

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AMP is no longer a requirement of the top stories carousel on Google. And with the introduction of page experience as a ranking factor, this talk intends to provide insights into behind the scenes of a major news publisher de-commissioning AMP. Revealing what happens to top stories performance as well as the pros and cons of the AMP framework for publishers as well as it’s future in a new page experience world in News SEO.

AMP is no longer a requirement of the top stories carousel on Google. And with the introduction of page experience as a ranking factor, this talk intends to provide insights into behind the scenes of a major news publisher de-commissioning AMP. Revealing what happens to top stories performance as well as the pros and cons of the AMP framework for publishers as well as it’s future in a new page experience world in News SEO.

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News SEO: Why we’ve de commissioned AMP - Brighton SEO September 2021

  1. 1. Why we’ve de- commissioned AMP Dan Smullen | Mediahuis Ireland slideshare.net/danrsmullen/ @Dansmull
  2. 2. About Me: DanSmullen.com @dansmull #BrightonSEO
  3. 3. Publishing 3
  4. 4. Non-Publishing 4
  5. 5. Why AMP? #BrightonSEO
  6. 6. “In 2010 Mobile web pages took an average of 19 seconds to open” #BrightonSEO
  7. 7. “What could Google do for news?”
  8. 8. Image Source: AMP for WP AMP helped publishers users
  9. 9. Google AMP & SEO Guide: Search Engine Journal
  10. 10. Image Source: State of Digital
  11. 11. Google AMP Can Go To Hell
  12. 12. Image Source: AMP.dev For some publishers it worked
  13. 13. -200% lower AMP CPM
  14. 14. Not Valid, Not Eligible
  15. 15. Producing Angry Developers
  16. 16. Page experience ranking factor and ‘removed the AMP requirement from Top Stories eligibility’
  17. 17. But this is not why we decided to decommission AMP #BrightonSEO
  18. 18. Our Business Focus Changed
  19. 19. “Digital First Print Second” From 0 to 30k Subscribers
  20. 20. The AMP Cache business problem.
  21. 21. AMP does support paywalls with it’s amp-subscriptions Component but relies on cookies.
  22. 22. Relying on cookies to keep subscribers logged in across the premium content flow on different domains is not perfect.
  23. 23. Some publishers still use ‘first click free’ with AMP.
  24. 24. “Business First AMP Second” SEJ: Testing the impact of AMP on Top Stories, Google Discover, and organic search rankings.
  25. 25. How we decommissioned AMP? #BrightonSEO
  26. 26. 1. Link tag with the relation “amphtml” was removed from the canonical.
  27. 27. 2. Redirected (301) the AMP variant’s
  28. 28. 3. Re-submitted the XML sitemaps Update AMP Content
  29. 29. How did this impact SEO? #BrightonSEO
  30. 30. AMP traffic, (Sessions) from Google merged into Mobile web #BrightonSEO
  31. 31. New users from mobile search in Ireland declined #BrightonSEO
  32. 32. Total Clicks from search declined despite total Impressions (Demand) increased. #BrightonSEO
  33. 33. For certain “trending” queries, we would rank on Desktop but not on mobile #BrightonSEO
  34. 34. And how did this impact ‘page experience, not having AMP? #BrightonSEO
  35. 35. Despite R.U.M data from GA showing ~70% of of sessions meet Core Web Vitals good performance. #BrightonSEO
  36. 36. Measuring Web Vitals using Google Analytics
  37. 37. How did the UX performance of non-AMP articles compare to AMP? #BrightonSEO
  38. 38. When AMP was decommissioned, bounce rate from Google referrers increased from 49% to 63% #BrightonSEO
  39. 39. And then, just before we were going to consider a U-Turn #BrightonSEO
  40. 40. Since mid-june clicks from search have improved without AMP #BrightonSEO
  41. 41. Non-AMP can now fully rank in the mobile top stories carousel without AMP #BrightonSEO
  42. 42. Before
  43. 43. After
  44. 44. And we are not the only ones #BrightonSEO
  45. 45. NewzDash Google Search Top Stories AMP Tracker
  46. 46. Will more publishers decommission AMP? #BrightonSEO
  47. 47. For us Google News, Discover and Mobile Search has improved for non-AMP Independent.ie #BrightonSEO
  48. 48. Google News performance.
  49. 49. Google Discover Performance
  50. 50. Yes, AMP Can help improve page experience #BrightonSEO
  51. 51. But at what cost to the business? #BrightonSEO
  52. 52. And to what functionality sacrifice? #BrightonSEO
  53. 53. The future of AMP is uncertain #BrightonSEO
  54. 54. The need for speed & UX is certain #BrightonSEO
  55. 55. But are you willing to sacrifice? #BrightonSEO
  56. 56. The Future of AMP for publishers? #BrightonSEO
  57. 57. AMP vs Non AMP #BrightonSEO
  58. 58. About Me: DanSmullen.com @dansmull Slideshare.net /danrsmullen/ #BrightonSEO
  59. 59. Thank You #BrightonSEO

Notes de l'éditeur

  • Head of SEO Mediahuis Ireland
  • Ireland’s most read websites

    Irish Independent, Belfast Telegraph & Sunday World, as well as their regional publishers
  • Digital marketplaces including their car, property and job listing sites, other business ventures that can grow with SEO
  • Before decommissioning, it’s important to understand why AMP in the first place
  • For the majority of print publishers websites were afterthoughts. Digital dumping grounds of the print edition.

    Little importance was placed on them.

    Roll on the 21st century and the mobile web.

    News publishers faced incredible challenges in offering compelling mobile experiences.

  • Slow loading mobile experiences.

    Can you imagine if you told a print editor it took under 20 seconds to turn the page. Well this is what was happening on mobile.

  • Wasn’t just bad for online news consumption. But also bad for Google.

    Because if Google is taking users to poor performing website experiences, people will be less likely to use Google.
  • And that would obviously be bad for Google.

    But of course, Google was not going to let that happen.
  • Spring of 2015, over a hundred journalists and technologists from around the world Newsgeist Europe in Helsinki, an annual event hosted by Google to discuss the future of the news industry.

    News publishers expressed the need for a new potential open source approach for distributed content.

    Opportunities for syndicating content with a great user experience while maintaining publisher control over business model, branding, and presentation.

    Google engineers understood the importance of producing better mobile experiences for the mobile web.

    “What Google can do for news”

    Came up with AMP
  • AMP was claimed to load upto “50%” faster
  • AMP involved creating a stripped-down, mobile-optimized AMP copy of existing HTML5 page content.

    The project is backed by LinkedIn, WordPress Twitter, Pinterest, and Bing Google is the key code contributor and main promoter.

    Limiting CSS to 75KB. Limiting JavaScript to 150KB.
  • In action - above was our stripped down valid AMP page scoring 59 on performance and 0 on accessibility with core web vitals.

    The voila like a magic trick when google crawls the valid AMP variant, it makes further optimisations such as removing all of the fluff between the critical rendering path

    And on Google’s servers, it jumps up to 74 in terms of page speed, and a perfect 90 in terms of accessibility
  • Real reason AMP - Google AMP top stories carousel.
  • As a result of this carrot and a stick, Google was “forcing” publishers to use a stripped down HTML version, pre-rendering AMP content, and giving preferential treatment to AMP pages, Google was influencing how publishers built and monetized to shape the internet in its favor.
  • Canonical AMP, requiring that the AMP page content be almost identical to the (original) canonical page content.

    This included functionality images, related articles, navigations, basically any functionality and content that was on the original.
  • Remember not valid, not eligible for search engine results pages.
  • And possibly the only thing we can collectively thank 2020 for, was the news that
  • We went from a publisher who relied on newspaper circulation revenue, to enabling a paywall on our websites.
  • And in 2020, we went digital first print second - 0 to 30k subscribers in under a year.
  • The goal of our websites was no longer simply monetizing pageviews, but generating loyal paying subscribers.

    And when we discovered that the AMP cache was one of the main reasons for users being logged out, the decision on decommissioning AMP was made at executive level.
  • Because to pre-render off platforms need to be able to speak with customer management systems.

    For example, if someone subscribed via the APP and then searched on Google, they would not be logged in, they would need to log in via Google search.
  • Some publishers still use AMP or FCF with AMP

    On left - mobile or APP - no way to by pass the paywall, but simply searching for the headline on google mobile via AMP everytime you get in for free!
  • For us, it was a business decision to decommission AMP.

    Before removing AMP, we tested on the impact of AMP on top stories, which you can read more on SEJ, break down the test, steps, results and findings as well as commentary.
  • Google crawls the canonical to discover the AMPhtml document with the amp link

    Removing this on newly published as well as the database was the first step of the code set up
  • At article ID level for already published articles we had a 301 redirect implemented to the canonical
  • Although it’s possible to request an update of AMP content, this has to be done on a 1:1 request, not scalable for 3+million news articles

    Which is where re-submitting the XML sitemaps to be crawled was a much more feasible approach
  • Tourquise line dropping to null & the blue line, showing that the AMP sessions simply merged into the mobile site.
  • On a parallel implementation on the Beltel, regional publisher in the UK market

    Sessions to mDot actually increased more than the previous period.
  • AMP sessions were predominantly “fly by users” or as we call them “new users” who have high search intent, but lower subscriber intent.
  • As the yellow highlighted line indicates when AMP was decomissioned, clicks decrease despite impressions increasing.
  • We went from perfect near 100% URLs meeting a good page experience to a 0%
  • Check out the guide on measuring web vitals using Google Analytics.
  • First highlighted line shows when AMP was decommissioned, and then the second yellow line is mid-june when Google announced that they were rolling out the page experience update.
  • Newzdash as news keyword tracking tool, compared the visibility % of Google search top stories on mobile in the US and found that prior to mid-june, nonAMP urls had 8% visibility for all top stories that they track, which post mid-june, experienced a 4x increase to 25%
  • Andrea Pernici, from 3BMeteo when they removed AMP, they experienced 90% drop in Google News traffic from the APP, and when AMP was restored, traffic bounced back to normal.

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