THE IMPORTANCE OF AMP
Google are at it again! Many of us are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of AMP – a Google-backed project. But what is it and how can you make sure you are making the most of it?
What is AMP?
If you are new to the world of AMP, it stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It is an open standard that any publisher can use so that pages load quickly on mobile devices. Some of the big name publishers that started using AMP from the very beginning are Time Inc, The Atlantic, Vox, BBC and The Huffington Post.
AMP enables users to gain as much as 85% faster page load times on their mobile devices. It does this by simplifying the requests a browser has to make so that everything is wrapped in one bundle. According to Jon Parise, software engineer at Pinterest:, “Accelerated Mobile Pages load four times faster and use eight times less data than traditional mobile-optimized pages.”
For over a year now, Google has integrated AMP listings into its mobile search results, and pages making use of AMP coding have a special “AMP” designation. AMP-enabled news pages take priority in news search results, and are displayed above the fold on the first page of SERPs.
Whilst AMP is not a direct ranking factor in itself, it does have a significant impact on user experience, impressions, and clicks which do affect SEO. According to Google, pages that take more than three seconds to load will lose 40% of visitors. Given that Google’s algorithm takes into account how users interact with and use a website, this also adversely impacts SEO.
But is it all just about speed? This comment from Yoast would appear to endorse that view:
“Let’s compare this to a race car. If you want to make a race car faster, you give it a faster engine and you strip all the weight. In this weight stripping, you also remove things like back seats, air conditioning, etc. AMP is not unlike that. It’s the trimmed-down version of a normal web, because Google cares for speed more than for nifty features.”
But is this true? For more of an introduction to AMP why not check out this introductory video from Google that gives a high level overview by one of Google’s AMP project team. It is aimed at UK users and is only 9 minutes long too!
In the rest of this article we’re going to look at two things. Firstly how do you implement AMP in the first place? And secondly what is Google’s latest advice on how to use AMP effectively?
The AMP Project website offers a very clear Six Step Process to using AMP. A summary of the steps is below, and the tutorial also includes a template for the first step creating your initial AMP HTML page:
- Create your AMP HTML page
- Include an image
- Modify presentation and layout
- Preview and validate
- Prepare your page for discovery and distribution
- Final steps before publishing
Good news for WordPress users is that there is an official AMP plugin from Automattic. The plugin adds AMP support and dynamically generates AMP-compatible versions of all posts on your site. The AMP posts will be accessible by appending /amp/ to the end your post URLs.
Getting the most from your AMP pages
But implementing AMP is only the start. Using it effectively is a continuously evolving process. In October a Google Hangout took place on the topic of AMP and three significant tips emerged from this.
AMP Pages Should Cleanly Map Onto Desktop Equivalent
To optimise the effectiveness of your AMP pages, you should ensure that each AMP page is equivalent to the desktop version of that page. If you try either to combine multiple desktop pages to make one AMP page or create a teaser AMP version of the desktop page this will not be effective. You need like for like.
You should integrate AMP pages with other web tools such as PWA
AMP will work effectively for you even if not every page is an AMP page. Indeed you may well want or need to use PWA (Progressive Web Apps) or more traditional page setups on some specific pages, for example those pages handling transactions. Google are currently looking into ways of combining a PWA with AMP content, but recommend that you make the best decision for your own specific setup, taking into consideration the resources and developers you have available and where you are heading with your website. For example you may decide to use AMP for pages where you can do it well, such as your news, blog and category pages. This will enable search content to open on your AMP pages and then other types of pages can also be used as the consumer browses your website.
Where possible keep parameters at site level
Keep things as simple as possible for yourself by applying AMP parameters in the Search Console at site level. This is much easier to manage and maintain than at page level. For example if you move to a different domain name it is much easier to implement this at site level than having to check all your individual pages. However, there may be some cases where the same parameter changes the content on one page but is irrelevant on another and you will need to split these up into separate sections in Search Console. But make sure you document clearly what is where to avoid confusion and misdirects.
It is worth keeping an eye on Google AMP project announcements and webmaster hangouts as AMP is a rapidly growing and changing area – and one to which we shall return in our Insights over the coming months.
Meanwhile, to test the effectiveness of your existing AMP pages check out Google’s AMP test page. If you then need further help and advice as to how to move forward with AMP then why not get in touch with us at Xcite Digital? As an award-winning digital marketing agency we keep our finger on the pulse of technological development and would love to have you with us on that journey.