What is AMP and Why It Is HUGE For Your Small Business
You may have heard online discussions recently regarding the need to boost website speeds for mobile pages. With all the advances in web technologies, including Responsive Web Design, image compression, caching, lazy loading, etc., web developers have pushed download speeds to their limits with incredible performance on modern mobile networks. Yet, the sad truth is that the majority of smartphone users across the globe still use 3G or sometimes 2G connections, making their mobile experience a painfully slow one. Enter AMP. But what is AMP, exactly?
What is AMP?
First announced in 2015, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open source HTML framework developed by Google with the intent of loading mobile pages almost instantaneously. To accomplish this, AMP places significant restrictions on both code and design. Accelerated Mobile Pages delivers a stripped down user experience with the focus on function over form. The team at Google aims to make AMP a universal framework for “user-first” websites.
How does AMP work?
AMP creates a counterpart to your standard web page. It’s important to note that although these pages work on desktops they are designed specifically for mobile devices. You will not come across an AMP page when you search Google on your desktop, which is a good thing as AMP pages are less than impressive on larger screens.
AMP pages are dramatically stripped down versions of normal web pages, but are intended to convey all the important content from the normal page. It’s not certain what rules Google defines in its algorithm, but the framework selectively decides what content to display. Let’s look at an example using a recent DEEPBLUE blog post:
Normal Mobile Page
AMP Mobile Page
As you can plainly see, the AMP page is watered down and less aesthetically pleasing than the normal mobile page. This may make you question whether it’s worth the sacrifice just to save a few milliseconds on download time. After all, your web designer placed a great deal of time in crafting your beautiful website and it seems almost sacrilege to desecrate such an accomplishment. But there is one secret that every small business owner need to know. AMP pages will blow the doors off of your mobile search results.
How does AMP affect SEO?
If you are looking for better search results you need to add Accelerated Mobile Pages pages to your website. There are three huge factors in how it will improve your organic mobile search results in Google:
We have already discussed the importance of speed and how web developers can optimize your website for mobile display. Check out our article on how to increase website speed for WordPress. These technique are are of great importance to your mobile performance, and Google considers website speed as a critical factor in assigning a website’s quality score and search results ranking. But AMP pages are on an entirely different level. AMP pages are so ridiculously fast that they rocket your relevance straight to top of SERP’s. As a tradeoff for downsizing your page’ aesthetics, Google rewards you with incredible search results.
Lower Bounce Rates
A Bounce rate is the percentage of people that come to a website and leave after viewing just one page. A high bounce rate is certain death to your SEO results, as Google views any website with high bounce rates as a lower quality site. One of the factors that may lead a person to exit a website so quickly is slow download times, specially on mobile devices. You have about 2 seconds before site visitors start dropping off, and with mobile devices micro-seconds count. In theory, an AMP web page will lead to lower bounce rates as the page will load lighting fast.
Google owns the damn thing
The Accelerated Mobile Pages project was created and controlled by Google. The folks that work on the AMP project are Google employees. Google rewards AMP pages for one simple reason: they can.
Let’s take a look at the real estate article highlighted above and see how it performs on search results.
Go to Google and type in “8 Best WordPress Real Estate Plugins”.
Page one results:
Notice that little lightening bolt next to our domain? That signifies that the page is an AMP page. You’ll start seeing more and more of that icon with the passage of time.
As with most things associate with Google, AMP comes with controversy. Many in the tech industry have criticized AMP as a bold-faced attempt by Google to grow its dominance over the web. By residing on Google servers, AMP pages are maintained within Google’s ecosystem. Also, AMP may dictate to web developers how they build websites in order to be rewarded by better search engine results. Google has also been accused of deprecating URLs so that users don’t know that they are going to a Google page.
AMP has been accused as an anti-competitive practice, and Google competitors such as Safari and Firefox are not playing along. In fact, there are browser extensions that allow you to block AMP pages altogether. As this controversy plays itself out it is strongly advised for business owners or website managers to take advantage of AMP and be an early adopter.
WordPress Plugins for AMP
If you have a WordPress website you can choose between two different plugins. There is the “official” AMP plugin supported by Google as well as Accelerated Mobile Pages for WP. Both plugins provide similar features, such as choosing which pages you want to be displayed in AMP and minimal customization of page design and content display. It’s important here to consider carefully which pages you wish to use as this is what all search traffic will see on mobile devices. At this time, we have elected only to use AMP for our blog pages and categories.
The beauty of these plugins is that once you set up your preferences your AMP pages are automatically generated and will begin showing up in Google within one day. Once you’ve installed the plugin of your choice, make sure to check your analytics. In just one day, using AMP our traffic jumped by 73%! Although a single day is not statistically significant, we are very excited to see how the results pan out over the next several months. Click here if you are interested in learning more about our Analytics services.
There is little doubt that Accelerated Mobile Page will create a disruption in the web design and SEO industries, and it will be very interesting to see where the anti-competitive claims will go. But it’s clear that AMP provides a huge competitive advantage for anyone looking to improve their search result rankings. However, the window for this advantage will be short-lived as more and more websites embrace the framework. The time to act is now.
DEEPBLUE Knows the Market
If you are interested in creating Accelerated Mobile Pages for your website we would love to speak with you. Call us today at +1.888.938.8289 or contact us online.