All Things AMP - Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP Pages (Accelerated Mobile Pages) helps to speed up mobile pages, while also ensuring that webmasters have the necessary tools to rank better in SERPs.

Jul 19, 2017 Digital Marketing

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): A Brief Guide to Everything You Need to Know

People are looking for immediate gratification and here is proof: if web users are unable to gain access to a site within a mere three seconds, they will leave that site. Purchasing decisions are made within micro-moments. Statistics show that 70 percent of individuals who turn off a site or mobile app do it due to the fact that they take too long to load. In addition, if your site takes 10 seconds or longer to load, your bounce rate will increase to a dissatisfying 58 percent.

But what if there was a way that you could get your content to load faster for users on mobile phones? How many more individuals would stay longer, read and possibly convert into new customers? Is there a chance that it could be as much as 70 percent on mobile devices?

Thankfully, you can now get lightning-fast speed and actually tune into your audience’s needs. All you need is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is known as the Google AMP Update. It is an open-source project that focuses on improving the user experience while on mobile pages.

What is Google AMP?

After Facebook Instant Articles, which was a 2014 featured that was released that offered faster-loading and more responsive articles (10 times faster than typical website pages) for mobile users, Google decided to release AMP. The primary difference between the two is that Facebook Instant Articles is controlled only by Facebook and AMP is open source. Facebook’s Instant Articles controls what type of content can appear on the pages that are included in the feature, while AMP permits publishers to have control over what is placed on their pages.

AMP has been being developed for over a year and in beta for several months. The pages currently load four times faster than standard mobile pages, which is lightning-fast, according to Google. WordPress is currently backing AMP, which is actually good news for those who have a WordPress-based website (which is probably more than 50 percent of web owners) since they can now use AMP. For WordPress.com websites, AMP is automatically enabled. If you have a self-hosted WordPress site, then you will just need to install an AMP plug-in to enable the AMP features.

Why Does AMP Matter?

Since the Mobilegeddon algorithm was launched by Google, the mobile-friendliness of pages is crucial when it comes to the ranking of pages. In other words, you need to consider the user experience, load time and ad functionality, as these all will affect the way that Google ranks your pages. For that reason, content marketers are doing what they can to improve mobile functionality.

Luckily, AMP helps with all of that. Google AMP can help improve load times and enhance the overall user experience. In fact, Google AMP is specifically designed to offer somewhat stripped-down web pages that provide users with the content and information they are seeking without the additional wait time.

All of this can help improve the ranking of AMP-enabled pages and make content much more accessible to mobile users who are interested in it.

What Exactly Does an AMP Page Look Like?

From the sound of it, you might think that AMP pages would look like a very basic web page with bare minimum graphics, content, etc. However, and thankfully, this isn’t true. In fact, AMP pages don’t have to sacrifice very much when it comes to design and looks. They actually have most of the same features as standard mobile pages. AMP has partnered with networks like Outbrain and AdSense to ensure that ads are just as functional on AMP pages and webmasters are still able to add their analytics tools.

In terms of visual difference between an AMP page and a non-AMP page is very minimal. Often times, web users can’t see the difference because it is behind-the-scenes stuff that makes the difference, such as Flash, JavaScript, multiple embeds, etc. – things that slow down how fast (or slow) the page loads. It may also eliminate comments to improve load time that much more.

Google Search and AMP: The Change That’s Coming

Even though there has been implementation of AMP on WordPress, which is a huge platform, it is still an open source project for Google. The first place that AMP pages have been noticed by Google users is in news articles. On mobile devices, as users are searching, they will have likely noticed a carousel of articles from a variety of big-name publishers. The AMP articles will feature a small lightning bolt, which is fixated in the top corner. Right now, there are hundreds of larger publishers and thousands of independent websites that are utilizing AMP to their advantage. However, despite the fact that AMP has many positive features, there are many publishers that are skeptical.

Since load time for pages is a significant factor for SERP ranking, many content marketers and publishers are a bit concerned that they’ll be forced into utilizing AMP to salvage their rankings in the search engine results. Some publishers who are against AMP are also worried about the level of programming that the implementation of AMP requires. Because of this, some smaller publishers are keeping an eye on the new AMP updates to see if Google promotes it to where it will become standard for the industry. If it does, then it is highly likely more of the smaller publishers will adopt it.

Though there are some publishers that are skeptical about AMP, there are plenty that very willing to give AMP a try. Some big-name publishers, such as Vox Media and the Washington Post, plan to put AMP-enabled pages to use in order to reduce load times on mobile devices. It is, of course, unclear at this time how widespread the implementation of Google AMP pages will impact search results as a whole, but it is clear that a large amount of publishers are proceeding to embrace it.

3 Things to Know About Implementing AMP

For content marketers, there can be some ramifications when implementing AMP. There are numerous benefits, but it takes time and effort to implement the project. Here are three things you need to keep in mind as you proceed:

1. Two Versions of All Articles Will Be Needed.

Because AMP speeds up web page load times by taking away everything on a page that is not required, you need to always keep two different versions of every single page. You will need the original version of the page as well as the AMP version. AMP will eliminate embeds, JavaScript, Flash, etc., which means lead forms and comments will not appear on the AMP version.

2. Your Videos and Images Need to Be Updated.

When implementing AMP, you need to expect your multimedia to be directly impacted. Your images will require custom amp-ing elements and will need to adhere to specific requirements regarding height and width. You will need to use an amp-anim feature for GIFs that are on the page.

For videos, you will need to use a custom amp-video tag to allow embedding on HTML5. The only exception is if it is a YouTube video, in which case you will use an amp-youtube tag. Special tags are also necessary for lightboxes or slideshows, in addition to social media embedded features (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.).

3. Original Versions of the Page Will Need to Be Modified.

Google will always need to be alerted that you have an AMP version of your content. To ensure that are alerted of this, you need to change your original version of the content. You can do this by using something similar to the canonical tag. For example:

 

If any of your pages are in the review, article, video or recipe category, then you will want to make sure to include Schema.org meta description information to assist Google (and other search engines) in understanding what type of content is on the page. This also helps your content make it to the AMP carousel.

AMP and Advertisements

An interesting thing about AMP is that it is seen as a direct response to the rise of AdBlockers over the past years. Due to the slow-loading advertisements that have caused people to install software that blocks ads, AMP has decided to work to assist marketers in monetizing their websites with advertising without needing to put the overall user experience at a disadvantage.

Due to this, there are many ad networks – AdSense, Amazon A9, AdTech, Taboola, Flite, Yieldmo, and Adform – working together with AMP pages, which means that the majority of content marketers shouldn’t find it difficult to transition their ad practice to Accelerated Mobile Pages. However, those who have more complex advertisement strategies, such as those with subscriptions, may need to put in some additional time and effort to get the job done.

AMP and Analytics

To remove your analytics, well, that would just be terrible, and AMP knows it. So, AMP doesn’t do it. Instead, the project strives to make it better with a two-step approach that offers spot-on analytics without dragging your site down.

  • Amp-Pixels – This particular element is a tag that is simple to install and assists with tracking page views.
  • Amp-Analytics – This element is a bit more advanced than the pixel element and will allow you to view and implement more analytics on your site when the standard Google Analytics just doesn’t work.

Utilizing AMP in WordPress: A Brief Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started

If you aren’t a techy person or a webmaster, you can still manage to get your feet wet with AMP in WordPress. Here’s how you can get started:

1. Install the AMP Plug-in.

Your first step is simple: install the AMP plug-in. You can do this from the GitHub page by clicking the button that says Download Zip. Once it has installed to your site, you simply need to go and add “/amp/” to your article pages’ permalinks.

2. Wait Around for Google.

Google may be big corporation, but it will take them just a few to catch on that you have AMP article. It could take a few days for the changes to be detected by the search engine giant. However, there is one thing you can do to help speed up the entire process. You need to do it through Chrome, and here’s what you need to do:

  1. Locate one of your AMP pages on Chrome.
  2. On your page URL, add the following: “#development=1”
  3. Using Control+Shift, open the Chrome Developer Tools toolbar and move to Console.
  4. In this area, you are either going to see one of two things: 1) a note that says that you have a successful AMP validation, or 2) a list of issues you need to fix before the validation can go through.

Due to the fact that AMP is still somewhat new, you will likely need to go through this manually validation for every page that you want Google to recognize.

3. Check the Schema Markup.

Google has a data testing tool that you will want to use to your advantage and test the Schema markup of all of your AMP pages. Good schema is ideal for success with your AMP pages.

4. Integrate Google Analytics.

On the WordPress dashboard, locate your plug-ns and navigate to the Editor section. Here, you will want to select AMP and add this text – make sure to change the UA-XXXXX-Y to your Google Analytics ID. Once you have this step completed, re-validate your AMP content pages and your analytics should be all set.

In Conclusion

As you can see, AMP is a new and exciting feature that is expected to alter mobile search. One great thing about it is that it isn’t just for users or content creators, but it is for both of them, thanks to the fact that it helps to speed up mobile pages, while also ensuring that webmasters have the necessary tools to rank better in SERPs.

AMP will take some time and effort to get implemented, but it will be well worth it in the end to be able to enjoy this new feature. The little bit of inconvenience that may be experienced to alter code and validate pages is definitely worth the benefits of pages that are four times faster and the possibility of improved search engine rankings.

In all honesty, the Google AMP project is essentially a dream come true for content marketers: faster-loading articles will help expand your reach and widen your reader base. AMP pages could rank higher in Google and there are AMP caching tools to help you enhance the overall user experience. Is there anything else that you could really ask for?

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