I have pretty strong opinions about “dark patterns” on the web. I hate obtrusive advertisements, 3rd party trackers, anti-UX modals and pop-ups, hidden data collection - the list goes on and on. I understand why these practices have been implemented over the years, but I still hate them. Now, we have Google’s AMP.
AMP at a glance
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) as described by Google themselves:
AMP is a web component framework that you can use to easily create user-first websites, stories, emails, and ads
If only it were that simple.
The original article by lucb1e (Google banned from this site for foul play) that inspired this blog post mentions several great reasons on why not to use AMP. I highly recommend reading that post, it’s short and straight to the point. I’m not going to breakdown every issue mentioned, but instead focus on a couple main ones that resonated with me most.
- The AMP code is hosted by Google
- This is an instant red flag for privacy and the concept of this web component being “open source”. Another example of Google taking away more control from users.
- Google implements more prominent placement of websites using AMP compared to those not
- Yeah, this doesn’t seem slanted in Google’s favor at all. Your competitors AMP site could actually be slower and less performant than your non-AMP site - but they can still potentially rank higher than you. Absolute insanity.
- Your domain is not displayed anymore when a user clicks on your results: everything goes through Google
- More power tripping and stealing away user control. I run my website. I own my domain. I create my own content. How is it acceptable for Google to run everything through their system that they are essentially forcing me to use if I want good placement in their search results? People’s hands are tied.
What can we do about it?
I think the default attitude of most users is to assume defeat when challenging a powerhouse like Google. It might seem like an uphill battle, but every tiny step away from them helps. We as independent web users and developers can make a small difference.
1. Block Google from crawling your websites 1
A great point made by lucb1e at the end of his blog post:
I therefore encourage everyone else with personal, non-profit websites to implement this [blocking Google]. As fewer results of such not-for-profit websites show up in Google Search, competition will be reintroduced to the search market.
If you feel inspired to do the same, simply add the following to the
head of your pages to stop Google from crawling your website:
<meta name="googlebot" content="noindex">
Optionally, you can look into adding a robots.txt file to your website.
2. Use a different search engine
Stop supporting their search if you disagree with how they implement placement of AMP sites over non-AMP. The worst thing you can do is be upset with their tactics, while at the same time giving them your time and money.
- DuckDuckGo (my personal choice)
Google is a search engine, not a gate keeper
Google already has far too much impact over the open web. With AMP, they are stretching their greedy hands into the pockets of independent users and companies by essentially controlling their websites. Having an attitude of “our way or the highway” has no place on the web. That was never the intention of the Internet.
Google needs to stick to being a solid search engine instead of trying to be gate keepers. I promise you in the long term this will not end well for them. I feel as though users are already becoming more proactive towards keeping their independent freedom on the web and these shady practices implemented by Google will not survive.
It will take quite a while before I associate any form of “trust” with Google again. Until that day comes, I will keep blocking them from displaying my website in their search results. I prefer the web open and free.
1 At least until they rework or remove this AMP program