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As promised, Google is making a change to how it displays Accelerated Mobile Pages, so that users can easily view and share links that lead directly to publishers’ sites rather than to Google’s copy of the content.
Google has been displaying AMP content by effectively making a copy of it and rendering it from its own servers, something that Google says both makes AMP faster and more secure for users. However, this has raised concerns with publishers and some users, who have found the system difficult for reaching content directly on a publisher’s site.
AMP & Google URLs
For example, consider the situation below, that existed before today’s announced change:
The example shows an article from our Marketing Land sibling site, published and displayed by Google in AMP format. Despite it being from Marketing Land, the URL area of the browser shows it being part of Google.com. That means those who copied and pasted the URL to share via a tweet, through Facebook or some other way were sharing Google’s URL, not the actual Marketing Land address.
In the end, it made no real difference. Google AMP URLs, when shared outside of Google, just redirect back to publishers. But that depends on Google maintaining the system that way. For many publishers, it’s just safer and more dependable to have people sharing their own direct URLs.
Google surfacing direct URLs
Google’s change allows this. Now, the URL field of a browser will continue to show a Google URL. However, the AMP header area will display a link or chain icon, what it calls the “anchor” button. Clicking on this will make the publisher’s direct URL appear, so that it can be easily copy-and-pasted:
For those who hold down on the anchor button, Google says it will trigger the native share feature of the browser being used. With Safari, that means easy access to things like Twitter or Facebook. With Chrome, it lacks native share, so nothing should happen.
Next to the anchor button, the three dots that Google calls the “overflow” icon brings up help information about how AMP is displayed.
For those using Google’s search app, on iOS, native sharing is already enabled. Google says that those using Google search through apps or native features on Android will get URL sharing features in the coming weeks.
Google also said that it’s looking at ways to use the Web Share API so that the AMP header can offer sharing directly, if publishers make use of it.
Whether this is enough to please some publishers will remain to be seen. It depends largely on users recognizing what the new anchor button is intended for.
For more about Google’s reasons for making copies of AMP pages to improve security and speed, see our previous article or see Google’s blog post today on the Google Developers Blog, which goes into depth on the subject.
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