Leon Paternoster

Web worker and blogger since 2008

It's easy to make fast static pages without Google AMP

There are lots of reasons not to use Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Yet respected, huge traffic sites like Ars Technica are doing just that:

… sites that publish AMP pages are effectively ceding control over their content to Google… Why would any website turn their entire mobile audience — a majority share of their total audience, for many sites today — over to Google? Why do websites publish AMP pages?

We’re entering a realm of doublespeak, where no-one admits the real reasons for AMP’s existence and use.

So let’s start with a basic question. What is AMP for? Well, its stated aim is simple enough:

AMP is a way to build web pages for static content that render fast. What is AMP?

Sounds great, no? Of course, it’s utterly risible. Folks, I’m going to reveal something here: Building web pages for static content that render fast is not difficult. Nor is it expensive. You do not need Google to help you do this.

(Incidentally, if you are finding it difficult, drop me a line. I built a static, lightning fast library website that does posts, events and complex branch pages. It costs 30 bucks a month to host. But here’s some free advice: Don’t farm out your advertising to 15 different dodgy ad farms, do use a static site generator and do use javascript and web fonts sparingly. You are welcome.)

No, the real reason for using AMP or Instant Articles is that it helps your Google page ranking or integrates your content with Facebook, which is where everyone is, right? In other words, publishers are scared, and will do anything – even cede ownership of the single most valuable, elemental thing they have – to protect their businesses.

In return, Google and Facebook get their content, and the right to do with it as they please.

As with most things web we’ve moved beyond irony. Consider the main cause of slow web pages on mobile: crappy advertising. And the ‘cure’ for this problem? Handing over your content to huge companies that want to farm that content to sell as many ads as possible.