Anyone that have been trying to implement AMP on a website know what a nightmare it can be to get everything right.
Google constantly change the standards without any warnings or proper backward compatibility, the official tools for testing is inconsistent, Google Search Console report AMP Titles as a duplicate problem and now we have new, even more serious problem …
Google is showing links to AMP pages in search results to desktop users!
AMP is good – but only on mobile!
Some people don’t like the very limited AMP format at all. For simple text pages I must personally say that I actually have come to like it. With the instant load and simple display on mobile phones I do think it serves a purpose.
But try loading an AMP page on a large screen desktop computer. That sucks! Off course, if was never meant to be displayed on a large display – only on mobile phones.
To secure that Google only link to the AMP version of a page we have to use a simple hand-shaking standard – with the original page linking to the AMP page and the AMP page nking back with a CANONICAL tag to the original page.
In theory, this should work and in many, maybe most, cases it do. But not in all, as we have experienced!
Make sure your CANONICAL page is not blocked!
First time we noticed the problem with Google linking to AMP-pages in search results for desktop users was with a site where the original pages by mistake had been set to NOINDEX with the META-robots tag.
Off course this is a mistake by the webmaster. Both the AMP and original version of your pages should be allowed for both crawling and indexing.
But in the event that you do make the same mistake – and some webmasters will (shit happens) then Google should not send desktop users to the AMP version. They should never do that! AMP is not meant for large screen use at all.
Google need to fix this!
Google show AMP pages to desktop users – even with no coding errors
After we saw the first problems, as described above, we started digging more into this. Was this only a problem when the webmaster made the mistake of blocking the original page? We hoped so …
But soon we found out that it is not the case. Even with a perfect implementation of AMP and no blocking errors we found that Google still display AMP pages to desktop users in some situations.
Here is an example from our own site. Google show both the original and AMP version of a blog post for desktop users.
If you look at the source of the original page you will see that there is a correct implemented reference to the AMP page.
And if you look at the source of the AMP page you will see that it has a valid CANONICAL tag back to the original page.
Also, when we test the AMP page – in several tools, it is 100% valid. No errors.
How do you fix this?
Google should really fix this. The faster the better. Links to AMP pages should never be presented to desktop users. Never!
But until Google do this you can only do one of three things:
- Live with the risk- until Google fix this, that some desktop users will get a really shitty experience when Google send them to the AMP version of your pages – and accept the poor user engagement and conversions you will probably get out of that.
- Implement a server side solution that check if an AMP page is requested from a desktop user and if so 301 redirect them to the original version. In order to do this you need to know which browser agents to send to what version. You can use BrowserCap for this.
- Drop AMP until Google fix this problem
The problem with the first solution is that it sucks. We don’t know when Google will fix this problem and until they do you risk giving some users a really bad experience – and probably no sales to them.
The problem with the second solution is first of all that it takes time to implement and maintain but even more there is a risk that Google could identify this as cloaking.
The third solution is off course tempting. Especially if you are not too crazy about AMP to begin with. But given the fact that AMP do increase mobile visibility, traffic and (some would say) mobile user experience I would personally not be happy to choose this option.
So, I am sorry, I have no perfect fix for you – but at least now you know the problem.