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AMP won't be required for Google's Top Stories section

Google announced today a new Page Experience Update and along with this Google will no longer require AMP for the mobile version of the Top Stories section in Google search. This won’t happen until sometime in 2021, but it is important to note that page experience will be a vital factor when determining what content shows in the Top Stories section.

What goes in top stories now? Back in 2016, Google said that only AMP pages could show up in the Google mobile version of top stories in Search. Just recently, Google let some local news providers for COVID-19 related stories bypass this requirement.

When this Page Experience goes live in 2021, Google will no longer require AMP for the top stories news section. You just need to make sure your pages do well in terms of the Page Experience scores.

AMP still can show in top stories. AMP can and will still be displayed in the Google Top Stories section after this update. In fact, Google’s Rudy Galfi told us that the majority of AMP pages already perform very well across all the page experience factors. But if you do not have AMP, then those non-AMP pages can now also rank well in Top Stories.

Google wrote “when we roll out the page experience ranking update, we will also update the eligibility criteria for the Top Stories experience. AMP will no longer be necessary for stories to be featured in Top Stories on mobile; it will be open to any page.”

Google added, “alongside this change, page experience will become a ranking factor in Top Stories, in addition to the many factors assessed. As before, pages must meet the Google News content policies to be eligible. Site owners who currently publish pages as AMP, or with an AMP version, will see no change in behavior – the AMP version will be what’s linked from Top Stories.”

Why we care. This change will open up more publishers to be able to show up in the Top Stories section on mobile. That means more competition for your traffic and your keywords. But it also means that you can optimize your non-AMP pages to do well in the mobile Top Stories section and outrank your competitors that may have decided to use AMP. It also means that if you dislike using AMP and maintaining AMP pages, you can do away with them and have your normal mobile pages rank in the Top Stories section.

Reminder; this is not live today, it won’t be live until sometime in 2021 when Google launches the new Page Experience Update.

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