All your questions on AMP answered

By Rupert Rowe

 

What is AMP?

 

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Page(s) and on the very basic level, think of it as a stripped-down version of a full-on web page designed to perform better on mobile and non-desktop devices.

AMP was an initiative by Google and was launched to be a competitor to Facebook’s Instant Articles.*

Since its launch in 2015, several of the biggest publication and tech companies such as Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and WordPress have adopted the technology with the AMP version of their website and others beginning to show up within the Google search results page in and around 2016.

In fact, AMP has grown in popularity so much and so fast that in 2017, only a year after AMP pages started to become commonplace, Adobe reported that AMP accounted for 7% of all webtraffic for the largest publishers in USA.

AMP mock up example

*Startup Grind has an interesting article on this subject suggesting that part of the reason AMP was launched by Google is to combat the rising use of ad-blockers (almost 20% of US internet users use one now) which means much less ad revenue via its Google Adsense platform. Amongst other reasons, AMP is meant to be a solution to improve the user experience on mobile devices which had taken a hit by unobtrusive ads which led to the rise of ad blockers in the first place.

 

Why is AMP important?

 

AMP is important as it helps web pages load faster on mobile devices which means happier users. And happier users means potentially more sales for eCommerce businesses, more leads for businesses and more page views and therefore ad revenue for publishers

 

Standard format vs Accelerated Mobile Pages

 

Is AMP important for SEO?

It certainly is and for several reasons, here’s just a few:

First, as the traffic from mobile devices continues to rise and having overtaken desktop traffic a few years ago, there’s a very good chance that a majority of the visitors to your website are now using their mobile devices to view your content (heck, I’m guessing you even?) so the more user friendly an experience you can deliver to them the better it is for your own business.

And, in case it wasn’t obvious as to why, the engagement of your website is a ranking factor which means the more your audience engages with your content (whether that is filling out a form, viewing a video, reading a blog post) the more Google sees this as a sign that your website is better than others and rewards you by way of higher rankings.

Second, Google switched to a mobile-first index almost 2 years ago now which means that the content on your website is going to be gauged from the mobile version of Google’s index first and therefore even if you think mobile users are less important to your business than desktop, you still want to make sure your site works just as flawlessly on mobiles.

 

The importance of website speed

 

This graphic perfectly illustrates the impact of speed on revenue for the biggest publishers and eCommerce businesses. 

Finally, even though AMP itself isn’t an official ranking factor (yet), there’s a very good chance that it will have a direct or indirect impact to your rankings because AMP pages are built for speed which is proven to improve user experience and therefore ROI so anything that helps with this has to be a good thing.

 

Some AMP myths

 

  1. AMP isn’t just for news websites. Any website that can benefit from improved speed and loading times can use AMP to improve performance. NoBroker which is a property rental company in India that matches potential renters with tenants is one such company that experienced an increase of 10% time on site and 20% lower Bounce Rates since they incorporated AMP.
  2. AMP isn’t just for Ecommerce websites (anymore). It is perhaps true that when AMP was launched, it was aimed at media companies and publishers primarily. However, 3 years is a long time in the world of tech and a lot has changed since then – several Ecommerce companies including Myntra which is one of the worlds largest Ecommerce retailers based in India have benefited since they incorporated AMP.
  3. Less bells-and-whistles isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As we discussed above, part of the way that AMP sites work is by doing away with a lot of the effects and transitions but several studies and polls carried out would suggest many users actually prefer this, especially on mobile devices.
  4. Don’t forget to verify your site with Google Search Console

 

 

AMP for WordPress?

 

If you’re thinking about implementing AMP for your WordPress website the best thing to do would be to contact a professional firm to do this for you.

For those of you who would like to try this for yourself however, here are a few quick steps to get you started:

  1. Install a tried and tested AMP plugin such as AMP or AMP for WordPress  
  2. Most AMP plugins will give you a few customisation options so select the ones you think are best
  3. Test if pages are working by testing them by simply adding a ‘amp’ at the end e.g. http://example.com/2016/10/my-blog-post/amp/
  4. Don’t forget to verify your site with Google Search Console

 

Google Search Console amp

 

Are there any downsides to AMP?

 

Actually yes, there are a few cons to AMP websites that you should be aware of.

First, the improvements in speed is a result of stripping away some of the bells and whistles of a web page which also means you will lose some of the “oomph” you might get from the full-on version.

Then there’s the question of ease of implementation (or lack of it).

Building validated, fully-functional AMP pages isn’t exactly a cakewalk and since the technology is new as well, putting together the right resources and then executing it can take time and cost money.

Third, although Google Analytics is supported with AMP pages, it does require a different setup which means adding a piece of code and tag manually to all your AMP pages and not getting this right might mean your AMP site data not showing up in GA properly at best and having a negative impact to your mobile rankings at worst.

 

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If you’ve already jumped on the AMP bandwagon and not seeing your pages yet, there’s a good chance you haven’t configured them properly or they don’t conform to the standards set by Google. Only valid AMP pages are going to show up and you can check for this by using the AMP HTML Web Validator, the Chrome or Opera Extension or through a more automated process such as a cron job to make sure all content is valid.

Of course, if all else fails, Diffusion Digital will always be happy to help!