April 20, 2016

Google on Wednesday announced that it’s integrating Google News with Accelerated Mobile Pages, the burgeoning web standard that aims to make the mobile web faster.

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, launched on Google Search earlier this year after a months-long ramp-up and development process. Thousands of publishers, including The New York Times, The Guardian and The Washington Post, have been among the early adopters of the standard.

AMP is a lightweight framework that cuts loading time for news articles by, among other things, paring back ponderous elements of a webpage. Google was the standard-bearer for the effort, but it’s been tweaked and tinkered with by legions of publishers and developers in the months since its debut.

The most apparent change that comes with today’s integration is a new AMP carousel — the interactive menu of AMP-enabled pages — in Google News, as Google noted in a statement:

The viewer is optimized for inherently fast-loading AMP articles and gets the user reading in an instant. While in the viewer, users can read a story and also swipe between the articles from the carousel to different stories. Additionally, AMPified articles in the regular News stream are labelled with the AMP lightning bolt icon. That way, users can know upfront that these articles will be fast even before they click.

Today’s news is a sign that publishers may want to adopt AMP if they want a greater share of the referral traffic from Google News. Although Google includes non-AMP enabled websites and articles in its results, the web giant has publicly stated that loading speed is a factor in determining which stories surface higher on the page.

The traffic isn’t negligible. As of 2014, Google News accounted for between five and 25 percent of traffic for news organizations, according to an article by SEO consultant Adam Sherk.

Meanwhile, Google AMP seems to be gaining broader acceptance throughout the news industry. Thousands of publishers have adopted AMP so far, and those that do are seeing their pages load four times faster and use 10 times less data than their non-AMP versions, said Maricia Scott, the engineering director for Google News.

“We’ve always thought that speed matters and that speed is important for users,” Scott said. “And AMP is an important way to get that speed.”

Additional features are coming to AMP soon, said Rudy Galfi, the product lead for the AMP project at Google. They include liveblogging support, a sidebar that enables publishers to add navigation and a paywall integration, he said.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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