Is AMP Phasing Out by Core Web Vitals?

Cloudflare concludes decreasing AMP importance from the increasing Core Web Vitals importance. Does it make any sense?


UPDATE: Cloudflare recently published a post corresponding to this post claim, titled Improve your page experience with AMP and Cloudflare Workers Unbound.


Cloudflare’s conclusion of decreasing AMP importance

In their recent Automatic Platform Optimization post-launch report (which is, by the way, a most-have-no-brainer-game-changer feature) Cloudflare speculates that AMP’s importance is phasing out by Core Web Vitals:

“Considering Google’s recent push with Core Web Vitals, the AMP format’s importance will decrease going forward.”

“Automatic Platform Optimization Post-Launch Report.” The Cloudflare Blog, 16 Mar. 2021.

This speculation is immediately followed by a stronger statement that presents “Google’s deprioritization of the AMP format” as a fact. According to the post, this conclusion led Cloudflare to decide to “bypass Automatic Platform Optimization caching of AMP pages”.

If these quotations describe Cloudflare’s entire conclusion logic – it seems to be fundamentally flawed. As a statement from Google on the subject, or any other evidence, is nowhere to be found, this seems to be the case. There is actually evidence indicating the opposite. For example, the AMP project’s commits histogram for the last year on GitHub.

The AMP project’s commits histogram for the last year – alive and kicking

The logical loophole

Core Web Vitals are measurement metrics, AMP is a framework.

By essence, Core Web Vitals and AMP are not equivalent. Presenting them as substitutes is like comparing apples to oranges.

People creating AMP-quality pages without AMP?

One possible path Cloudflare’s logic took is:

  • As Core Web Vitals become a Google search results ranking factor,
  • developers will work harder towards a better page experience, and therefore
  • the gap between AMP and non-AMP pages will decrease,
  • and so will AMP’s importance.

The first 2 steps are sound logic. But the question is HOW will developers work harder towards a better page experience? Optimizing a webpage isn’t a simple task – and this is exactly what AMP is designed to solve in the first place. So, if anything, it makes sense that the introduction of Core Web Vitals as ranking factors will increase AMP’s importance – as the best path for acing them – rather than decrease it.

Actually, this is exactly the subject of a recent official AMP blog post:

“[…] the AMP Project is doing its part to provide developers with one of the easiest paths to meeting the Core Web Vitals thresholds.” [emphasis added]

“Correlation between Core Web Vitals and AMP.” The AMP Blog, 15 Jan. 2021,.

And again:

“[…] we are excited to reach a point where we are able to ensure that AMP abides by web performance best practices and gives all AMP pages one of the best possible chances of being compliant with Core Web Vitals.” [emphasis added]

Google taking away from AMP what it never had?

Another path that might have brought Cloudflare to conclude the decreasing importance of AMP is the possibility of Google stops rewarding AMP pages for being AMP pages and, instead, starts rewarding all pages with good Core Web Vitals. But the fact is Google never rewarded AMP pages for being AMP pages. Google very clearly states that “AMP itself isn’t a ranking factor“. But, on the other hand, “speed is a ranking factor “, and AMP pages are fast. This logic isn’t changed by Core Web Vitals. Actually, it has been strengthened by it.

Another way of phrasing things is: Core Web Vitals don’t solve the issue AMP is trying to solve (page experience), they only better define the aspired goals for possible solutions. By doing so, Core Web Vitals give more importance to the issue itself and therefore give more importance to its solutions – such as AMP.

Conclusion

Cloudflare’s conclusion of decreasing AMP importance due to the introduction of Core Web Vitals as ranking factors seems to be logically flawed. AMP is a great path towards good Core Web Vitals, rather than a thing to be replaced by it. And so, it makes sense that the Core Web Vitals increased importance will increase the importance of AMP accordingly, rather than decrease it.

This is best summed up by the title of another official AMP blog post on the subject: AMP + Web Vitals – a better web, together.

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