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Google and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Google’s AMP Is Speeding Up the Web By Changing How It Works

Over the past year or two, I’ve been seeing the structure and layout of Google search results change, specifically on mobile. Generally, I found that when searching trending news phrases, the Google results page will yield a horizontal bar of search results in the form of Google cards. Each card features a logo header from the news article’s source, an image from the article, and the article’s headline underneath the image. At the bottom of each card is Google’s lightning bolt AMP logo (short for Accelerated Mobile Pages), followed by how recently the article was published to the Internet (or perhaps, the most recent time the article was cached by Google’s AMP system). When a user clicks on one of these AMP results, they are taken to a modified version of the webpage that has been pre-rendered and pre-cached by Google so that it can be served to the user with a shortened loading time. The Wired article linked at the top of this post discusses this AMP system, and explains how it speeds up the web from a technological perspective. Connecting this to topics we covered in class, I find that there is also a human angle to this phenomenon, and that the AMP system can speed up how users react to the web.

We learned in class that two web search problems that search companies have to solve for are Scarcity and Abundance. In this case, I find that Google’s AMP project can be used as a user-side solution to the Abundance problem. The Abundance problem arises when there are millions of “relevant” pages for a given search query, as there is the need to determine which are the “best” ones. Google already figured out how to collect relevant search results a long time ago, but there has always been the issue of how the results are presented to the user, such that the user can clearly see which results are the most relevant to what they are looking for, determine which result best suits their needs, and then select that result; that is to say, finding the best search results and presenting the best search results should go hand in hand for an optimal search engine. So, rather than just presenting a list of search results that only provide headline information (which, granted, are listed in order of decreasing relevance), the AMP system shows users immediate and pertinent information about relevant links: the combination of source, headline, image, and recency information gives users the most possible data by which to quickly sort through highly relevant links and select the one that best suits their search needs. This is compounded by the fact that Google’s AMP system inherently prioritizes pages with high importance based on referral counts and other link data, so ultimately the user is getting the best way to select from the most relevant results. Overall, Google’s AMP system appears to be a great way to cut down on the user-side Abundance problem that inherently comes with Google’s ability to collect huge numbers of relevant results.

 

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