On May 2015, a statement from Google paved the path for a new world of marketing. Google basically confirmed that more Google searches take place on mobile devices in 10 countries including Japan and America. So, if you want your potential customers to discover your business or website, it is important that you stay on top of mobile SERPs. But, just optimizing your website for mobile users is not going to help you stay on top.
Did you know that 53% of visitors leave a mobile site that fails to load in three seconds or less?
Mobile users spend a lot of time on their phones and they won’t be happy if your interface is slow-loading and not easy to navigate.
Enter AMP pages, a project from Google and Twitter. AMP taps into open sourced technical components that increase the speed and usability for online visitors while helping you to maintain the integrity of content that you want to show.
AMP Pages – What are they?
Ever came across a headline that caught your interest and clicked on the link to read more? Most of the time it happens so that even with a good WiFi connection the page doesn’t load and we end up closing the browser? AMP Pages are trying to solve this problem. AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages can be thought of as a diet-version of HTML. AMP pages enable publishers to create fast-loading mobile pages without sacrificing on any ad revenue. With AMP, websites are allowed to retain their ad formats and ad networks that do not bring down the user experience. Why? Slow loading speed forces users to close a page thus hurting page views and user engagement. This not only brings down the publishers’ ability to offer free content but also disincentives advertisers.
Also, the AMP platform is open source and so, publishers can instantly distribute their content on the open web without being sandboxed inside an app.
While a normal web page takes three seconds on an average to load, AMP Pages will load in less than half a second! These extra seconds make a huge difference for engagement on the page.
How do AMP Pages Bring Down the Page Loading Speed to Less than Half a Second?
AMP is basically made up of three basic parts –
- AMP HTML – This is very similar to HTML but has some customer properties and tags. If you are interested in knowing how AMP HTML differs from basic HTML, read the AMP Project’s list of required markup.
- AMP CDN – AMP CDN will cache your AMP pages and make some performance optimizations.
If all this is very technical for you to understand, here is the crux of it all.
- AMP is just like HTML but with several restrictions. You can use certain HTML tags and things like forms.
- For AMP pages, you need a streamlined version of CSS.
- Heavy caching is an important feature of AMP pages. Google can host AMP pages and can also host the actual content right there, without having to fetch it every time.
- When you are using AMP, you are agreeing to put speed, and maybe readability over everything else.
Can I Start Using AMP for my Website?
Wait right there! Though AMP pages load fast and can improve user engagement, it is not for everybody!
AMP was initially designed for online publishers who create news stories that show up as AMP pages in mobile search. But, AMP pages can be relevant (or irrelevant) for other businesses though. Before implementing AMP pages for your website, just check if the AMP results carousel and other AMP components are well-suited for your business.
AMP pages might not be suitable for landing pages concerning products or services. Because you will not be able to use full functionalities of HTML, the very purpose of your original design might be defeated.
Having said that, some e-commerce sites have started using AMP (justified, because AMP results carousel and other components will help showcase individual sale items). AMP is also very beneficial for publishing sites. A lot of people, instead of making their entire site AMP enabled, are just making the blog sections suitable for AMP.
Some websites that use AMP include Pinterest, Ebay, Bing, Reddit, and WordPress.
Can I make AMP Work for my WordPress Site?
Integrating AMP for your WordPress site will take about 5 minutes. Interesting, isn’t it? Just follow these steps –
- Install an AMP WordPress plugin.You can start with AMP WordPress plugin by Automattic.
- Activate the AMP-WordPress plugin. What these plugins do is add AMP elements on all your pages.However, it won’t redirect mobile visitors to your AMP pages.
- After you have activated the plugin, edit your .htaccess file using an FTP program like FileZilla.
- You can also edit the CSS using FTP to make your AMP pages feel more like your website pages. You can do this by going to wp-content > plugins > AMP > template.php.
How do I Make my Website AMP Enabled?
It is not easy, but it is worth it! Long story short, you have to integrate AMP elements hands-on.
Create your first AMP page by following the instructions given on the AMP Projects’ page.
How are AMP Pages Beneficial for SEO?
There are some major SEO Benefits that AMP Pages give us –
Lower Bounce Rate
How much time your visitors spend on your site is an important factor when it comes to SEO. With AMP pages, your pages will load in less than a second, reducing wait time significantly. This means the user will stay on your site for a longer period of time and the engagement levels will increase. This increased engagement will reduce bounce rate and increase on-site time.
At present, the Google News carousel comes above the fold on mobile devices, even above the organic search results. If you want your content to come above the organic search results, it HAS to be featured in the news carousel and the only route to that place is by using AMP on your site.
Even though it is not official, it is known that Google takes factors like user experience and mobile load speed for ranking. It has been noted by several SEO experts that Google eliminates sites that are not mobile-friendly or optimized for user experience from search rankings.
How will AMP Affect Local Search Results?
A lot of opinions about how AMP will affect local search results are floating around, now that AMP is in full effect. While AMP is not a ranking factor yet, it does affect impressions, clicks and user experience which will, in turn, affect search results. Some subtle changes in local search results have been noticed after the introduction of AMP pages –
It is expected that Google will use factors like user click behavior to decide what type of content is more relevant – local content or AMP.
In conclusion, if AMP is really the future of mobile search depends on how it gets adopted as a standard. Not all standards that Google pushes gains popularity. For example, Google once pushed the adoption of Authorship Markup that forced publishers to make code changes and required writers to connect to their respective Google+ accounts. But, it wasn’t widely accepted and has not become irrelevant. In short, Google is helping out content producers and websites by introducing AMP pages, because, let’s face it, not everybody can afford to ditch their websites and business and build an app to make a living, considering how expensive it is to develop one.
Though AMP has a better chance at transforming into a widely adopted standard because its counterparts are more proprietary, time will tell us the rest of the story!