6 things you should know about Accelerated Mobile Pages
Last year in October Google announced their Accelerated Mobile Pages Project. The initiative aims to dramatically improve page load speeds, user experience and content performance on mobile devices for certain queries. Initially launched in collaboration with 30 publishers and technology firms (including Twitter, LinkedIn and Guardian) the latest discussions on the Webmasterworld forum strongly suggest that this has been rolled out by Google worldwide.
The first thing you will notice about AMP is that the participating publishers’ content will appear in the top carousel;
Click here for the short video of the above.
Other than the forums, strong indications of the forthcoming significance of the initiative are coming from Google itself. Here at Tamar we have recently seen a rise in notifications coming through our clients’ search consoles.
1. What is it?
So what exactly is the fuss about? On the surface it appears to be Google’s response to industry initiatives such as Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. Google has stated clearly that this will be integrated in full with its News product as well, so that may well be the search giant’s intent here.
Under the hood, however, AMP pages are essentially a version of the existing page with a stripped-down HTML, being popularly called AMP HTML. According to Google, “AMP HTML is a new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight webpages”. Google claims that as a result pages are expected to load 85% faster than standard mobile pages.
In simple terms, web developers now have an opportunity to design and code a page variation on AMP specifications. When it comes to displaying, Google will decide whether to show a regular mobile version or an AMP version of a page. Read more about the guidelines on how to plan for AMP pages here.
2. So why is Google bothering?
As is the case with all SERP changes in Google, it’s all about helping advertisers (did anyone mention the 4 adwords links on the top of the page?)
The official explaination on the Googlewebmastercentral blog is that AMP is designed to prevent advertisers from losing out on subscriptions and advertising revenue caused by readers bouncing off their sites because of slow pages. Other justifications put forward by Google are that, by promoting the AMP standard, it is trying to help publishers just focus on their content production and not have to worry about coding, page load speeds, caching etc.
3. How will this look on a mobile search page?
The first visible evidence of AMP will be the appearance of participating publishers’ content on an easy-to-swipe carousel above the regular blue links. Typically, this will be more apparent for news-related searches.
4. Why should brands take notice?
If you are into publishing or considered as an authority on a topic with an ability to produce regular content, AMP is an opportunity to get a head start on mobile searches. For example, if you operate in a specialist market such as a niche in the health sector (say, care homes or dermatology) then AMP pages could well prove to be a unique way of stamping your authority.
5. What should brands do to prepare?
AMP takes page load speed as a ranking signal to a new level. However, AMP should not be prioritized over other SEO factors but be incorporated as an additional tactic.
To begin with as a digital marketing manager you should,
- Build a clear understanding of whether there is a need and opportunity for AMP pages on your site. Definitely consider it more seriously if you get a notification from Google itself.
- Introduce the concept to your web development team or agency, explaining the need for such a change and get them to buy into the concept.
- Get the web development team to start building AMP pages for your site along Google’s guidelines making sure that those pages are valid.
- Prepare an on-going plan and process of building such pages in a streamlined manner. If your website is run through a CMS then obviously you need to plan this even more thoroughly with your CMS vendor. WordPress websites have some early good news though, there are already plugins available that you can go download and quickly get started with your AMP.
6. Sounds like win-win for everyone?
Maybe not – the underlying issue that Google are trying to sweep under the carpet is what items they are stripping-out of pages to speed the AMP versions up: namely, advertising. If you take a look at an AMP version of an article, then compare it to the web version you’ll notice a LOAD less advertising on the page. Great for the reader, not so great for people trying to monetise that content without Google’s involvement…
Overall, in theory AMP could prove to be a great concept (once the advertising issue gets ironed-out). For users, consuming high quality content at optimised load times is obviously desirable. However, for the technical, content and marketing teams of a publisher, the matter has much deeper implications. As with any technical SEO issue, implementation of an AMP strategy requires thorough planning, especially when there is a risk of creating duplicate content. It will be interesting to see how other platforms react to this change by Google. There is already speculation that Facebook is considering opening up its instant article platform to all content publishers by way of response.