Google Referrals Are Up. How To Make The Most Of AMPing Up

Google Referrals Are Up. How To Make The Most Of AMPing Up

Since January 2017, traffic from Google Search to publisher sites globally has risen by more than 25 percent. Simultaneously, Facebook referrals have declined.

One stakeholder has concluded that this is driven by a 100-percent increase in mobile search traffic from Google on sites using accelerated mobile pages, or AMP.

Chartbeat is a New York City-based provider of content intelligence and analytics tools for publishers to measure reader engagement.

The firm dug into its data and concluded that this is a trend, that it’s a good thing for publishers, and that there are ways publishers can take advantage of this growth.

John Saroff, CEO of Chartbeat, described his company’s findings in an article in Digital Content Next, a trade publication for digital content companies:

“We … looked specifically at search traffic by device and the answer was clear from our data set. Mobile Google Search referrals were up significantly while Desktop Google Search referrals were flat,” Saroff wrote. “We then looked specifically at Mobile Google Search to compare sites that are using AMP versus those that are not. The difference was stark. While Mobile Google Search traffic to our AMP-enabled publishers is up 100 percent over the same time-frame, traffic to publishers not using AMP is flat. This is stunning news. The data shows that Google Mobile Search referrals have grown so much in the last six months that they now outpace all Facebook referrals (mobile and desktop).”

Why This Is A Good Thing

The industry and Google have long been at odds, but they are reaching a kind of detente, Saroff wrote. The underlying business models of each are pushing them closer together. Google’s business depends on an open web that is searchable and contains as much of the world’s information as possible.

This strategy aligns well with most publishers, who also depend on an open web. “Few, if any, have the intent to create meaningful walled gardens,” Saroff wrote. “Instead, they’re focused on an open web for discovery, monetization, and distribution”:

Lost in the discussion about platforms and publishers is how the business model of Google differs from other platforms. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat depend on capturing as much of an individual’s attention as possible, and keeping it within that platform.

Google also sends traffic to publishers directly, where they can monetize using their own ad sales team and infrastructure. Google’s DoubleClick business remains the ad server of choice for publishers, and Google’s Ad Exchange is in almost every programmatic publisher stack.

When publishers expressed dissatisfaction, Google listened and made changes such as providing more support for publishers with subscription-based businesses, Saroff wrote.

The Google-Facebook duopoly still gets 80 percent of every new advertising dollar in the world, posing an existential threat to ad-supported media and pushing media stakeholders to work towards new business models like subscriptions. Still, there’s a thaw in the relationship, Saroff wrote.

What to do about it?

Leveraging Google and AMP effectively is more important now than ever, Saroff said.

  • Those who have not already done so should look at “AMPing” their pages.
  • Content teams should revisit their overall search strategies, particularly on mobile. “SEO may feel like an acronym from another time, but these data trends make it clear that SEO and AMP strategies are as relevant as ever,” Saroff said

All this traffic can be used to generate more advertising dollars, drive new readers to publishers, and direct visitors to revenue-generating customers regardless of the business model, Saroff concluded.

Read more at Digital Content Next.