What the Heck Are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

Flash back to 2015: The web is slow; many pages aren’t ready for mobile devices; popups and auto-playing videos get in the way of the content you want to read.

Remember that? The web is still like that, you say?

Oh, right.

But believe it or not, things have gotten a lot better, and that is in no small part thanks to Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page technology, or AMP.

You may have heard about AMP already – that it’ll speed your website up or that it’ll help you rank better – and these things are true, but they are not quite the whole story. You’ve probably seen a website running “AMP” many times, especially if you read news content from your mobile device. Major news sources like CNN, The New York Times and NPR have AMP-powered websites that rank highly for new content.

AMP isn’t just for news websites, either. If your website has a blog, or any other kind of informational content, utilizing Accelerated Mobile Pages can give your site a significant boost in page rank.

But how?

How Accelerated Mobile Pages Work

Google recognized a long time ago that websites that are fast have better user engagement, longer time spent on pages, and lower bounce rates. The trouble is that a lot of the people who build websites don’t really care. Google’s solution to that was to develop an entirely new framework for building website code. One that would force the developer to use good optimization practices, prevent them from running a lot of code that slows the page down, and that automatically provides search engine optimization techniques right at the core.

There are a few drawbacks, of course. In the first couple years of AMP, Google’s restrictions made complex graphical layouts hard to pull off. Many custom user tracking scripts were unavailable. And any kind of custom interactivity using JavaScript was, well, impossible.

But the tradeoff, Google promised, was that they would give your website featured placement in search engine results, and they would cache your website on Google servers for near-instantaneous page load times – they would even add a little “lightning bolt” icon that would tell users they were clicking on a source that would load super fast. Especially when targeting users on poor cellular connections, this could be a huge advantage for companies in the service and content industries.

In the years after AMP’s launch (in 2016), Google has lessened some of the restrictions of AMP: They’ve “open-sourced” the technology and are allowing contributions from other companies. They now allow custom JavaScript as long as it conforms to certain specifications. And they’re still providing all the same advantages AMP had on its launch day.

Should You Use AMP?

Depending on who you ask, the advantages to setting up AMP-ready pages on your website may not seem like much more than those you could get if you were to just write better-performing code.

But the fact remains that Google is giving preference to AMP pages in search results (no matter what they say to the contrary).

So, if you’re in a highly competitive vertical with lots of content or competition in organic search, AMP will give you an advantage. Not only can you guarantee a super-quick user experience once people reach your website (leading to higher conversion rates and lower bounce rate), but with Google’s preferred listing, they’ll be more likely to see your site.

How Do I install AMP?

Here’s where it gets less straightforward.

Even if you use a fairly common content management system (CMS), everybody’s website is built quite differently. Adding AMP technology to an existing site can be difficult, if not impossible, and will always require an AMP-knowledgeable developer.

At this point, when building a new website from scratch you should always make sure your developers are ensuring the site code will be AMP-ready.

In a few cases there are some quick plugins you can install on your existing site that will do the work for you. For instance, if your website runs WordPress, you can use the ‘AMP’ plugin. (Yep, that’s all it’s called.) It was actually developed by Google engineers to provide an extremely easy to set up AMP compatibility layer on the very popular WordPress environment.

Otherwise, make use of a development team that has in-house experience with setting up AMP-ready websites. They should be able to provide an audit of your existing site, give options and provide an estimate for what adding AMP would take – and boost your SERP exponentially! Good news for you, we’re that team. Reach out to discuss how we can AMP your website or call 231.922.9977.