An accelerated run-down of AMP

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A little over a year ago, I wrote about Integrity implementing AMP for WordPress on our site and gave an overview of the AMP standards. At that time AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, was only around 6 months old. Recently, AMP celebrated its 2 year anniversary (which, let’s be real, is more like 5 to 10 years in Internet Time). Now’s a great time to see where the platform is headed.

What is AMP?

The Accelerated Mobile Pages project was spearheaded by Google in 2015 as a method to combat the slow speeds of websites on mobile devices. As we cram more hi-resolution images, interactivity, videos and other forms of content onto sites, the size grows and bloats, causing slower speeds for users on mobile devices. User frustration is made obvious by the fact that 53% of mobile sites are abandoned if they take longer than 3 seconds to load.

Google’s solution was to develop a new, open-source coding standard derived from existing HTML and JavaScript to deliver pages faster and more reliably on mobile devices, focusing on performance issues. Not only that, but Google added the power of its own infrastructure to cache AMP pages, along with validation, to ensure pages both work and are loaded as fast as possible.

Where is AMP?

In case you’re not sure where to find it, AMP-powered websites can be found on your mobile device through a search on Google. If you pull out your device of choice and do a Google search, you can spot these sites by the little “AMP” label under their search description. Here’s me searching for “tea”:

Google Amp Results

 

Occasionally, you’ll also see them in what Google currently calls the “Top Stories” carousel. When this pops up, there can be any number of stories to scroll through that are related to your search and are on web pages powered by AMP.

Google Amp Carousel

 

Clicking on one of these articles loads it Super Fast, framed in a view that allows you to swipe between each of the article results from the carousel. Dotted notations in this new viewport tell you which of the articles you’re on, with the actual website address above these notations. This entire frame is generated by Google as it serves up these AMP articles it considers related to your search.

Google Amp Carousel Results Oregon Live

 

Google’s search algorithms have been weighing mobile-friendly sites higher in search than non-mobile friendly sites since 2015. AMP easily falls into this rule as well, as AMP powered sites rank much higher in Google search engine results pages (SERPs).

Should I use AMP?

So now you’re asking, “That’s awesome and neat that I get search results faster, but what should I do with my current website?” The answer is a bit complicated, depending on who you ask.

Since its release, the AMP project has published multiple case studies that include increased sales, conversions and reader engagement. E-commerce platforms that have implemented AMP have also seen increases, including the 95% increase to partner sites for the travel site Wego.com. Some of these sites have limited their AMP implementation to key landing pages, while a few completely AMP-powered websites have also been released.

However, some publishers and web developers are wary of the platform for several specific reasons:

  • Any AMP article that appears in Google’s “Top Story” carousel is framed within Google. Instead of visiting the site of the search result directly, a user is still within Google’s search results on that valuable first visit. Some publishers see this as Google keeping users contained in the search results instead of moving forward to the publisher’s website.
  • Because AMP limits the amount of styling allotted to improve load time, there’s a concern that all websites will look the same. In some cases, this means results from an ordinary opinion blog look similar to a trusted organization.
  • Although the project is open-source, the fact that Google’s unknown algorithms rank AMP sites higher than non-AMP sites can be considered a conflict of interest, especially since Google makes money off ads on their search results.

Ultimately, you need your website to perform well for you and your users. If the advantages of AMP look like they’ll boost your sales and help you reach more customers, consider a measured approach of implementing it on key pages. Review your analytics data afterward and see if AMP’s giving you the same boost its given other sites. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the AMP Project to see what developments they release and how it benefits our clients.

Ready to implement Accelerate Mobile Pages on your website? Contact the leading web development company in St Louis to get started!

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