Since launching three years ago, Accelerated Mobile Pages adoption has flourished across the web and on mobile. Google announced at AMP Conf 2019 today that it is addressing AMP’s biggest complaint by displaying actual website URLs.
Accelerated Mobile Pages are fast because content is loaded from the Google AMP Cache rather than a publisher’s server. However, this results in articles featuring the google.com/amp URL prefix. For websites, regular visitors cannot easily see the URLs that they are more familiar with.
Early last year, Google announced that it was looking to address this “#1 piece of feedback” about AMP. Noting its commitment to “meaningful URLs,” Google Search for Android and iOS already shows publisher URLs in the app bar underneath the headline, while Chrome’s built-in share menu will use the original link.
Google’s solution for the web and browser URL bar leverages Signed Exchanges that provide “digital proof to a browser that the document delivered by an AMP Cache has not been modified from what the publisher intended.”
When a browser sees a Signed Exchange and can validate the signature, the browser can display the publisher’s URL, regardless of where the file was delivered from.
This allows pages to appear under a publisher’s URL rather than google.com/amp when clicked from Google.com on the web. AMP Search results — when not part of Top Stories carousels — also lose the top gray bar used to note domains.
Signed Exchanges also allow for first-party cookies and storage to customize content. Additionally, it simplifies analytics by ensuring that all visitors exist on one domain.
Support from site publishers, web browsers, and Google Search is required to display actual site URLs. Chrome already features the web packaging specification, with Microsoft Edge working on it as well.
Meanwhile, publishers can add support by running the AMP Packager tool on their own infrastructure, or asking a CDN to provide AMP Signed Exchanges. As part of today’s launch, Cloudflare is offering signed exchanges to all of its customers for free. Lastly, Google today is rolling out support for Search AMP web results to link to Signed Exchanges.