Google is fiddling about with mobile search results, using ‘AMP’. Not sinister, bit annoying though

tl;dr
You might have noticed ‘amp’ appearing in mobile search engine results on Google. This began in Oct 2015 and makes mobile pages load much faster (effectively loaded from Google’s cached copy), but the page looks like it’s from Google, quite a few users who’ve noticed it have found it puzzling and it’s a bit fiddly to share the ‘real’ address. Your device hasn’t been hacked and it’s not particularly sinister but lots of web publishers are a bit ‘hmm’ about it and feel Google’s put its metaphoric bag on the seat next to it and taken up a bit more space.

Recently I was mildly alarmed / irritated to notice that a page I’d failed to open on iPhone Safari (that had nothing to do with Google) somehow had ‘Google’ at the top of the page, instead of ‘The Guardian’, and the URL had ‘amp’ in it – I briefly wondered if I’d been hacked or something exciting like that, but it turns out – no, nothing quite that sinister but this new amp thing is annoying plenty of people, though when it does work it can actually make pages load ridiculously fast (which is great). AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages.

Before I discovered that, and while trying to open the Guardian article I retraced my steps which showed me that ‘AMP’ was appearing in a few of my search results, next to a lightning bolt, and I found that it wasn’t always that straightforward to remove it from the address, to get the right link*, because it seemed pretty well embedded into the address.

I’ve just recreated the experience, with an example that turned out to be fairly straightforward to edit (I was hoping to find the one that wasn’t but couldn’t remember what I’d originally searched in November).

A more recent mobile search was for the frequency of the chiltern radio beacon╚ and the search results included the following amp-containing URL https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/media/2008/jun/26/gcapmedia.radio, after deleting the bits in bold gave https://theguardian.com/media/2008/jun/26/gcapmedia.radio  which worked fine. Note that if the website doesn’t support https then you might have to delete that bit too to make it work. Or use a different search engine! I’m reluctant though, on principle 😉

In the replies to Deb’s tweet above someone has highlighted an applet that will return ‘canonical’ (for purposes of argument this just means correct^) URLs though I’m afraid it’s github which is beyond my technical skill.

Ardan (according to their bio) works for Google search.

Further reading
Google Helping Mobile Publishing? Some Publishers Are Not So Sure New York Times (1 January 2017)

Google will change AMP display to make it easier to find & share publishers’ direct URLs Change will be to the header in AMP content, expected in early 2017  Search Engine Land (21 December 2016)

Footnotes

╚ If you are not far from the Chiltern radio beacon (a non-directional radio beacon / aviation navigation aid) you can hear it emitting its Morse callsign (C -.-. H …. T – for Chiltern) on 277MHz. I once found it by accident and was intrigued, wanted to find it again. It also features in a song.

*Related to this – if you’re sharing a link to Wikipedia from your phone please remember to delete the m otherwise you send readers on PCs to the mobile version (they can select the desktop version by scrolling to the end of the page, which is a bit of a faff). If you share the non-mobile version then people on mobile devices will be shown the mobile version anyway, and people on PCs will see the desktop version. I’ve no idea why computers can’t ‘de-resolve’ a mobile link to show the desktop version but… not yet it seems.

Compare and contrast these links below (if you’re reading on a mobile both will take you to the mobile site but you can select the desktop version at the bottom of the Wikipedia page).
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

^for a more technical definition of canonical url see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canonical_link_element

Searching for a link (URL, address) on Twitter

Twitter’s search will let you find almost* all the tweets that contain a particular link. You can just plug in part of the link into search (desktop Twitter‘s best for this). To view all the tweets choose ‘live’ from the options and scroll down to go further into the past.

What have your friends said about this link?
If you want to see what people you follow have tweeted about this link you can restrict the search just to them. This can be useful if you click on a link earlier in the day, forget who sent it but want to acknowledge them in a tweet you subsequently send – you can work out from whom you saw the tweet.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 00.54.36

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 00.54.45

A note on how to search for a link – try different bits of the address
Twitter’s search can be a bit mercurial – or, I haven’t worked out exactly what’s going on yet. Sometimes putting the entire link in yields nothing… sometimes it yields something. I generally select a bit of the link and choose a bit that’s likely to winnow out irrelevant tweets.

A note on the appearance of the link
Twitter does not distinguish among modified (shortened) links that point to the same web page, so searching will bring up a variety of different-links all going to the same place.

Example: here’s an address: http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/views-from-the-nhs-frontline/2015/jul/13/wasting-gps-time-no-i-cant-prescribe-you-new-shoes and if you search for it on Twitter you’ll get these results which include these shortened versions of the URL which all point to the same page

If you want to share a link without having it show up in searches try something like donotlink.com (effectively it ‘cloaks’ the link by pointing to an intermediate site first).

Saving time when searching again
If you’ve just searched for apples and bananas you’ll first see all the Top tweets and then have to click ‘Live‘ to see all of them. If you decide you want to search for apples and pears you can avoid this two-step process by editing the search-result-link in the address bar (desktop Twitter only).

The first link is: https://twitter.com/search?q=apples%20and%20bananas&src=typd&vertical=default&f=tweets

Replace bananas with pears and press ‘go’.

https://twitter.com/search?q=apples%20and%20pears&src=typd&vertical=default&f=tweets