Have you ever clicked on an article and had to wait an extremely long time for it to load? Or maybe you’ve run into a nasty pop-up that you can’t get rid of so you end up throwing your phone across the room?
Today, 40% of users will leave the page immediately if they cannot access the content they’re looking for within 3 seconds. Users have been frustrated with slow loading web pages for quite a while but luckily Google has come up with the perfect solution – Accelerated Mobile Pages.
What exactly is AMP?
In October 2015, Google introduced a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages or better referred to as AMP. They wanted to create a better user experience by making video, animations, ads and rich content load almost immediately and claimed that it would “dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web”. Well, it did and now publishers like the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly and so many others are starting to use AMP to display their content because it loads instantly. Take a look at what happens if we search for “Katy Perry”.
The article is higher in SERP’s and displayed in a carousel which allows the user to access the information they are looking for almost effortlessly It can be identified by the grey bubble with a lightning strike through it can render in all modern web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari and even Opera. Another awesome feature is the time stamp just to the right of the article which lets you know how recently it was published.
What does AMP mean for publishers?
Almost all media outlets such as Time, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and many others can start to have some control and position their articles in SERP’s. Accelerated Mobile Pages have been shown to increase page speed between 15% and 85% which is a significant improvement compared to non-AMP articles. Publishers are able to improve their click through rates and get content to their readers faster than ever before.
“The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project provides an open source approach, allowing publishers to focus on producing great content, while relying on the shared components for high performance and great user experience.” – The Google Blog
Additionally, unlike other contained projects like Facebook Instant Articles or Apple News (where articles are limited to just those specific outlets), the AMP project is open source. Meaning all publishers can sign up and start using it right away. Click here to get started with AMP.
So, what’s the big difference?
In a normal article, a reader might be prompted with a pop-up ad where in an Accelerated Mobile Page the advertisement is displayed within the article. Thus, eliminating the annoying “pop-up” feature most users can’t stand. It looks something like this:
Readers can still see the ads while they are reading content but it’s not bugging them enough to want to leave the page. Another element AMP threw out the window was all lead generation forms. Users will no longer see a newsletter sign up, contact form or comment sections at the bottom of articles.
In fact, Accelerated Mobile Pages uses a whole another language including:
- AMP HTML – A redesigned version of HTML with common web elements
- AMP CDN (Content Delivery Network) – Caches AMP content for fast delivery
Developers are limited and can only use inline CSS up to 50 KB. No external CSS. And they must declare sizes for all images. From a user’s perspective, the only thing they are missing out on are bulky UI elements or unnecessary animations.
But, what does it mean for SEO?
When it comes to mobile, Accelerated Mobile Pages are displayed in the news carousel just above the fold on top of organic results. So, call to action, hero images and the first 100 words should be thought of very carefully considering it can affect click through rates, impressions and the overall user experience. The Accelerated Mobile Page itself is not a direct ranking factor that will impact domain authority, keywords or organic traffic. However, the page located on the main site should be fully optimized as like any other web page and could be considered for ranking purposes.
Do it the right way
When you create an AMP article you should be creating two different versions:
- A page for your normal website that uses standard HTML
- A page with AMP HTML that includes the rel=”canonical” tag (pointing to the original article)
Publishers who use WordPress have the advantage of installing a simple plug-in that writes the additional page for you. If you don’t have WordPress or you’re not a developer, then you’ll have to take the time out to learn the language in order to build an Accelerated Mobile Page. Luckily, here’s a tutorial that walks you right through it.
Wrapping things up
The average person picks up their phone more than 1500 times a week. In fact, 50% of searches happen on a mobile device. Whether it’s a news article or a celebrity story, people are going to search for what’s trending on the internet. It’s inevitable and with an attention span shorter than a Goldfish (approximately 8.25 seconds), why wouldn’t publishers want to use Accelerate Mobile Pages for their articles? It’s better for the user, advertisers and publishers. In the end, everyone is happy.