AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

If you were not already aware, mobile phones have taken over the world. They have transcended simple voice communication and become mini computers that sit in your pocket. As a result, we turn to our phones for social media, texting, news, gaming, dating, and of course (lest we forget) searching. In fact, over half of internet traffic globally is now via a mobile phone, and that figure is only set to increase. How does this relate to AMP? Well, in 2015 Google and Twitter took notice of this growing trend and looked to improve their user experience via mobile phones  and so the concept of accelerated mobile pages (or ‘The AMP Project‘) was born! It is a work in progress, but we can expect this progress to be exponential.

What is AMP?

Accelerated Mobile Pages are essentially a form of HTML that focuses on all the important stuff needed by mobile phones, while the rest is cast aside. Much like a race car being stripped down for the track, AMPs are webpages that have been stripped down for mobile phones, the likes of which are likely to have slower processing power and slower internet connections than desktops or laptops. The theory (and reality) here is that AMPs load faster on mobile phones than normal webpages, thus improving the user experience.

You can create an AMP page by getting your developers to follow AMP guidelines, and have Google host your page on so that it is cached by Google (again improving load speeds). We don’t want to dive deep into the intricacies of all those severely restricted Javascript libraries or the structuring of your CSS  leave that to your trusty dev team. What we do want to portray is the benefits of adopting AMPs, both now and in the future. We think it’s pretty clear that pages which have leaner code and utilise better caching will load faster. But there are more benefits to be considered:

Mobile-first indexing

Google are switching to mobile-first indexing, meaning that Google will rank websites based on the content displayed to a mobile user and their corresponding user experience first predictably, desktop comes second here. AMP has been developed as an open source resource partly because of the inevitable tide of mobile phone usage, seen again here by mobile-first indexing. In short, you care about your mobile phone, Google cares about their results via mobile phones, and as such they are superseding desktop content with mobile content. Although the notably ambiguous team at Google are trying to say that AMP does not impact search rankings, we believe that in the future AMPs will only further your cause in the SERPs (search engine results pages)  especially when mobile first indexing fully rolls out!

A lightning bolt in SERPs!

Let’s assume that Google is being truthful and that AMP does not affect a website’s ranking. Regardless of this, AMP results have a great big lightning bolt to show that they are AMP pages! So as users become more and more aware of AMPs and their ability to display content faster than your standard web pages, this lightning bolt will have a significant impact on click through rates from the SERPs. Whether or not they have a direct impact on search rankings, an accelerated mobile page will have an impact on a page’s ability to attract traffic from search results which (as we have discussed elsewhere) is still a major goal for SEO.

Not everyone is on board

Accelerated Mobile Pages have obvious positives the news carousel has forced media outlets to produce fast loading pages which have boosted exposure for the technology and subsequent adoption rates. Users have a quicker experience and webmasters are continuing to treat mobile traffic seriously, all good news for the AMP project on the whole. There are some (including The Register) who believe that AMP is just another ploy by Google to ‘control the web’ that actually holds little benefit for websites, especially for those looking to monetise their content (many adverts are stripped out of AMPs). Others believe that it forces publishers to serve the user rather than the other way around.

One thing is for sure, AMP is growing very quickly. As a rival to Facebook’s ‘instant articles’, it is interesting that Facebook now supports AMPs in their instant articles  although with their plagiarism of Instagram it is pretty clear that Facebook is taking the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ tact. You may want to create accelerated mobile pages because you believe in the technology, or you may be more sceptical. Whatever your stance, the one thing that comes out of all of this is that if you aren’t yet mobile-ready, you better do some catching up… what are you waiting for?

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