The AMP project has been displayed huge numbers: Over 860,000 domains are currently publishing more than 35 million Accelerated Mobile Pages on a weekly basis, according to statistics from Google. Google shared those stats at a recent conference for AMP developers. At that same conference, the search engine giant announced an AMP expansion that consists of over a billion users in Japan and China. AMP currently represents roughly seven percent of web traffic for some of the top publishers in the United States, according to reports from Adobe.
As social platforms, content publishers, and ecommerce sites, begin to embrace the fast-loading and lightweight mobile format, there are some digital managers that are attempting to assess the urgency and importance AMP in respect to particular tactics.
Those that are curious about AMP tend to be smaller-scale ecommerce sites, blogs, professional websites, niche content websites, academic publishers and smaller-market news publishers. As a general rule, these businesses are intrigued by the benefits of Accelerated Mobile Pages and would like to improve overall search performance; however, they are also trying to juggle a lot of competing priorities and need to be cautious of the allocation of their resources. This leaves them begging the question whether AMP is important enough to place as a priority at this very important – not whether it is important to actually implement.
Does AMP Have the Ability to Boost Your Website’s Reach?
One of the main reasons that you want to implement Accelerated Mobile Pages is to get that boost of traffic to your website – and, of course, to keep from losing that traffic to your competitors who are AMP-enabled. This is particularly significant for specific types of websites and inconsequential for others.
The Top Stories carousel is where the majority of AMP content is displayed and is advantaged over content that is not considered AMP. This particular carousel is a wide assortment of AMP-rich content for news-based search queries. There are other types of structured content that can be displayed as an AMP carousel – think recipes, but the Top Stories carousel appears to always be reserved for news. Now, this carousel always dominates mobile devices and will appear at the top while pushing down any other search results. So, if there is a good chance for your content to appear in the Top Stories carousel, you need to be looking at Accelerated Mobile Pages.
To determine this, you will want to perform a quick Google search on a mobile emulator or a cell phone. Make sure to utilize keywords that are directly associated with a piece of content that is popular and fresh on your website. You will want to try this particular exercise with a few different searches and pages to get a good feel of things. If the search results pull of an AMP carousel from similar sources to your website, then you will have discovered two different things: 1) you have AMP-enabled competitors, and 2) you are sadly missing out.
Now, if an AMP carousel does not appear in the search results, then it could mean three different things: 1) you do not have AMP-enabled competition, 2) you have such specialized content that the search engine can’t find enough related results to create a carousel, or 3) Google may not be creating AMP carousels for your specific type of content.
For instance, if you were to perform a search for the term “listeria outbreak,” you will see that there is a Top Stories AMP carousel; however, if you perform a search for the keyphrase “what is listeria,” you will not see an AMP carousel. This shows exactly how a competitive advantage may be sought by a health news publisher with Accelerated Mobile Pages, but a general health information publisher would not be able to seek the same opportunity with AMP.
This is a test that you are going to want to perform sporadically. This is because Google is constantly launching new experiences with AMP in search and publishers are always looking to adopt them. So, it is always a good idea to want to be among the first publishers that are AMP-enabled to adopt those experiences as opposed to the last, especially among your competitors.
Now, AMP links will appear in core search engine results (also known as blue or text links). However, Google has continuously stated that the Accelerated Mobile Pages are not given preferential treatment over non-AMP results within the core search results. This could, of course, change at any time. But, as of right now, Accelerated Mobile Pages will not impact the performance of your site in core search engine results.
The bottom line is that broad content news publishers who have fresh content need to be publishing Accelerated Mobile Pages so that they can be included in Google’s Top Stories carousel as well as any other AMP-only carousels that the search engine giant may be offering. Publishers that have niche, static or any non-news content are not as likely to see an increase in their exposure when it comes to AMP right now.
However, the good news is that that isn’t the only reason that you should consider Accelerated Mobile Pages…
Can Your Site’s Performance Be Improved with AMP?
The primary purpose of Accelerated Mobile Pages is to improve the performance of your website. This can be measured a variety of ways – by transactions, interactions, ad viewability, return visits, eCPM, etc. It’s for that reason that many large platforms, such as Pinterest, eBay and Eventbrite, are using AMP, and that top news publishers, such as The Guardian and The Washington Post, are investing in the innovation of AMP. The AMP Project is continuously growing in terms of case studies as well as data points and is able to show that faster, cleaner pages are better. LinkedIn recently reported an increase of 10 percent for time spent with AMP content in the news feed as opposed to non-AMP content.
From the perspective of a publisher, the standard implementation of Accelerated Mobile Pages involves header tags in the source code, which points to the AMP version so that search engines are able to find it easily and quickly. If your website is able to get a significant amount of traffic from Google and the AMP is able to outperform your existing mobile experience, then the engagement as well as the revenue benefits could be substantial. If not, then the standard implementation of Accelerated Mobile Pages will have an inadequate influence on your website performance due to the fact that only users coming from Google and other referrers will see the AMP version while the majority of users will get the regular page.
For publishers who are planning a major overhaul of their website, it may be time to consider a full canonical AMP rather than producing Accelerated Mobile Pages that will simply sit alongside the standard pages. It has already been proven that AMP has the ability to support responsive websites (AMP can indeed work on desktops!). One canonical AMP page will be a lot easier to manage and it will guarantee that all of your visitors get the best possible user experience. Now, an alternative option would be to get started with a hybrid website that would allow you to use some AMP pages as well as some more complex, non-AMP pages.
In the end, if you are losing out on engagement and revenue due to a slow and weighty website, you need to focus on that situation first. However, it is important to realize that Accelerated Mobile Pages could actually be the solution – or at least part of it.
What Is It Going to Cost to Implement AMP?
The last thing that must be considered with AMP is the effort and investment to implement Accelerated Mobile Pages. With basic sites that are ran on WordPress or some other similar platform, it will probably be a relatively easy plug-in configuration. However, if you have a site with advanced advertising, design and analytics, then it will take a bit more effort to launch AMP and maintain the pages.
This process can be handled internally or you can outsource it. In either case, it helps for the publisher to have a little bit of understanding as to what it takes to launch or at least support AMP in addition to what they are hoping to gain out of the implementation of AMP. It is also a good idea to be familiar with how to measure the performance of AMP moving forward.
Accelerated Mobile Pages haven’t been around long, but they are evolving rather quickly. The benefit of AMP for publishers can change in a few days or next month based on the changes that Google makes. So, while AMP may be a supplementary strategy this week, it could be a priority next week.