The following post was written by Zack Bloom, Director of Product and John Graham-Cumming, CTO at Cloudflare
Join us for a free webinar this week where we will cover how Cloudflare is helping its customers drive better results with AMP, and increasing conversions.
The promise of the AMP project was that it would make the web, and, in particular, the mobile web, much more pleasant to surf. The AMP framework was designed to make web pages load quickly, and place the focus on the user experience.
Initially, it was particularly aimed at publishers (such as news organizations) that wanted to provide the best, fastest web experience for readers catching up on news stories and in-depth articles while on the move. It later became valuable for any site which values their mobile performance including e-commerce stores, job boards, and media sites.
As well as the AMP HTML framework, AMP also made use of caches that store copies of AMP content close to end users so that they load as quickly as possible. Although this cache makes loading web pages much, much faster they introduce a problem: An AMP page served from Google’s cache has a URL starting with https://google.com/amp/. This can be confusing for end users.
Users have become used to looking at the navigation bar in a web browser to see what web site they are visiting. The AMP cache breaks that experience. By serving the page from Google’s cache they may be confused by the ‘google.com’ URL they see in the address bar.
Last November we at Cloudflare announced a technical solution to these problems that would allow AMP pages to be served from a cache while retaining the original page URL and all its benefits. The in-depth technical blog post by Gabbi Fisher and Avery Harnish gives the full details. The solution makes use of Web Packaging (which incorporates some clever use of cryptography) to allow the cache (run by Google, Cloudflare or others) to keep a copy of an AMP page and serve it quickly to the end user, but to also contain cryptographic proof of where the page originally came from.
In cooperation with a browser that understands Web Packaging, this means that a page can be stored in an AMP cache and served quickly from it while showing the original site URL in the browser’s navigation bar. A major win all round!
We’re calling this “AMP Real URL” and it’s free to all Cloudflare customers.
How It Works
Google’s AMP Crawler downloads the content of your website and stores it in the AMP Cache many times a day. If your site has AMP Real URL enabled Cloudflare will digitally sign the content we provide to that crawler, cryptographically proving it was generated by you. That signature is all a modern browser (currently just Chrome on Android) needs to show the correct URL in the address bar when a visitor arrives at your AMP content from Google’s search results.
More importantly, your site is still being served from Google’s AMP cache just as before; all of this comes without any cost to your SEO or web performance.
Want to Learn More?
We will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday, June 19th at 10:00 am PDT “Building AMP Experiences that Drive Results” that will feature a broader understanding of AMP architecture and how AMP Real URL leverages Cloudflare’s serverless platforms to deliver signed exchanges. U.S. Xpress will also share insights and results that they’ve experienced having deployed Cloudflare AMP Real URL for their AMP content.