What is Google AMP and Why Does it Matter?
What is AMP?
AMP is an open-source web framework launched by Google in 2016 for building landing pages that load almost instantly. Google developed AMP to make websites more user-friendly by drastically improving web page loading speeds. The framework was originally developed for mobile (hence the original name ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’) but has since expanded to work across desktop and mobile.
Faster load speeds drive better conversions and increase click-through rates. According to the AMP Project, implementing AMP can lead to 3x faster mobile loading times, upwards of 6x more overall traffic, a 63% increase in click-through rates on AMP pages, and a 23% increase in returning users from mobile search.
The AMP HTML framework can be used to build websites, ads, emails and highly visual content with a tool called AMP Stories.
How Much Does AMP Cost?
AMP is an open-source initiative and is available free of charge. Implementing the standard will usually require a web developer to make updates to your website’s HTML.
How Fast Is Amp?
Google has stated that the average time it takes AMP pages served from Google Search to load is less than one second! Case studies have shown that implementing AMP can drastically improve mobile loading times. After implementing AMP, the popular technology blog Gizmodo saw mobile page load speeds increase by 300%.
There has been some debate among developers about the cost/benefits of implementing AMP and whether Google’s methods for speeding up AMP pages are anti-competitive or give AMP pages an unfair advantage. However, even some of those developers admit that the advantages of AMP pages over non-AMP pages are clear:
“The dilemma that comes with AMP, is that it works. Very well. End users will experience much faster pages and it’s very likely that your conversions will improve dramatically. A tempting, almost irresistible proposition for many organizations and businesses.”
Of course, the platform your website is built on, what kind of content you’re serving, network connection and other factors will determine how much of a speed boost you may see on your website or blog.
How Does AMP Work?
Google has always been focused on delivering content as quickly as possible. Yet despite all of the speed-improving solutions the search engine giant has engineered over the years, the bottlenecks in page loading times on mobile are typically the content being served.
AMP delivers faster mobile loading times and addresses this problem by preloading content and serving hyper-lean, optimized versions of your web pages via its AMP Content Delivery Network (CDN). Through the use of specialized markups (think of it as Google’s version of HTML), AMP greatly reduces the page weight of mobile pages, in many cases serving 70% smaller versions of your web pages to users as compared to non-AMP pages.
The basic components that AMP leverages, which lend to faster rendering times and a smoother user experience, are:
- The AMP cache. Your validated page content is loaded from Google’s AMP CDN. Google preloads your content in search results, which can give your page a huge advantage over competitors in terms of speed.
You can learn more about how AMP works and get started building AMP pages by reading the AMP documentation.
Are There AMP SEO Benefits?
According to Google, AMP is not a ranking factor. Speed, however, is. What’s irrefutable is that the primary advantage of preloaded AMP content is greatly improved speed in sites loaded from search engine results. Given the near instant delivery of AMP pages, any publisher of large amounts of content should consider AMP, especially if load times or current conversion rates are a concern.
Another benefit related to SEO is that because of the way Google serves cached copies of your pages over its CDN, AMP pages can be accessed via google.com domains, which can have the effect of lending credibility and authority to your website compared to more obscure domain names.
Other SEO benefits include:
- High-visibility placement in Google Search. Google Search displays certain results that are only available for AMP web pages. For news publishers this includes the large news carousel displayed at the top of results pages for mobile Google News searches. It’s arguable that the strongest SEO benefit of AMP pages is for news publishers aiming to see content in those carousels on results pages.
- AMP lightning icon emphasizes your content. Google places a gray lightning bolt icon next to your page name on mobile search when it’s served via AMP. This makes your content stand out and indicates a smoother, faster user experience for your page.
- AMP Stories are a fast-loading visual storytelling tool that can be embedded and shared across the web. Using animations and tappable interactions, they provide a creative way to quickly share news and information and can improve mobile search visibility.
- Canonical tags to prevent duplicate content. Use of canonical tags prevents issues with duplicate content in search results, which could otherwise negatively impact SEO.
- Improved server performance. Optimized caching and other aspects of AMP can reduce requests to your server and have net positive impacts across your site. Admittedly, the backend speed benefits of AMP would be marginal, but with SEO everything you can do to optimize your website is important.
Can I Use AMP with WordPress or Other Platforms?
Yes! AMP is a standard that can be implemented across a range of popular platforms, including WordPress, Drupal, SquareSpace and more. You can view a complete list of CMSs that support AMP here.
Please get in touch with us for a free assessment of your website and to learn more about converting your content to AMP.
Who Should Consider AMP?
If your web page loading speeds are slow or if you’re looking for ways to deliver faster, more engaging mobile content, then AMP is a tool you may want to consider as part of your web strategy. This is especially true if you’re creating large amounts of content, and loading times or current conversion rates are a concern.
AMP may also be a good solution for publishers of news content who are aiming to gain an edge over their competition in search results and to reach a wider audience. In addition to near-instant load times for your content, the potential to get content placed in the news carousel and the creative opportunities presented with AMP Stories could be beneficial.
To learn more about AMP or if you’re interested in hiring a team to help you implement AMP and advance your web strategy, please contact us today.