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In February 2016, Google launched a project called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). The move was seen as a response to Facebook’s Instant Articles. The objective of Google AMP is simple: to load web pages on mobile (substantially) faster. In fact, ‘AMPed’ up web pages can load up to 10 times faster than traditionally designed pages.
Why does Google care so much about this? According to a report by Starcounter, the number of mobile users on the web surpassed the number of traditional computing platforms in October 2016. Mobile users contributed over 51 percent of total web visits. Another study revealed that more than half of the respondents spent less than 15 second on a webpage.
AMP came into existence because of Google’s obsession with a better user experience. The median load time for an AMP page is 0.7 seconds—massively faster than the 22 second load time of traditional pages.
What is Google AMP?
Unlike Facebook’s Instant Articles, which has similar features, AMP is not restricted to one platform. It is an open source project, available to all publishers on the web. On mobile, AMP search results are displayed in the search “carousel” above the rest of the results, and feature the acronym tag of “AMP” along with a thunderbolt icon.
AMP-enabled pages provide an improved user experience. This is beneficial for marketers and publishers as well. Fewer people bounce to a different website when quickly offered relevant information.
AMP Gives Businesses an SEO Advantage
AMP-ready websites display above their non-AMP counterparts in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)—a significant SEO advantage. Google insists that being AMP ready is not the only criterion considered in their rankings. But they have made clear that for two websites with similar performance, the AMP-ready one will rank higher. For instance, consider two blogs which contain ‘how to’ guides about the same topic. Google will display the AMP-ready website higher than its competition.
This is especially beneficial for upcoming businesses trying to get themselves noticed. Featuring in the top carousel of SERPs guarantees higher visibility and click throughs. According to a study by online ad network Chitika, the top SERP result gets 33 percent of search traffic for a query. This number dips to 19 percent of traffic for the second highest result. Google reports that a brand can increase unaided brand awareness by 46 percent by simply showing up in mobile search ad results. In the same report, Google revealed that more than half of smartphone users have discovered a new brand or product while searching on their smartphones. (Check out the do’s and don’ts of SEO for content curation.)
Who is AMP Meant For?
Google has become much more than a platform where people search for products or services. It’s the place you search for answers. Google is very efficient when it comes to simple questions. For a question like, “How far is Mars from the Earth?” the results look like this:
However, when searching for something more complicated like, “Why did the US launch missiles in Syria?” you have to depend on relevant articles presented on the SERP. This is when the need for loading another page arises—which AMP makes much more convenient.
However, Google AMP is not only good for news, blogs, and articles. The Google carousel is equally effective when it comes to ecommerce websites. In fact, in June 2016 Ebay announced “about 8 million AMP-based browse nodes are available in production.” Which means they have taken the step towards AMP-ready pages for a large chunk of their webpages.
Advantages of AMP:
- Unless Google fiddles with the way it displays AMP pages, they are ranked above other results on a SERP page.
- Since Google AMP is an open source initiative, contributions are not limited to Google’s developers and can be made by everyone. This means AMP technology will be highly adaptive to future technologies and trends.
- Unlike Facebook, Google AMP is available for every publisher, across every platform on the web. This means anyone with a little drive in them can potentially expose their content to a larger audience.
- Adobe Analytics, comScore, Parse.ly, and Chartbeat will offer separate analytic tools for AMP. If you wish to develop your own analytics for AMP, the instructions are available on the official website.
Limitations of AMP:
- AMP content does not feature any kind of forms. This means generating leads through an “AMP-ed” page is next to impossible.
- For broad search terms such as “Mars,” AMP results appear above sponsored links. This means a decline in paid search impressions for your webpage.
How to Use AMP for Your Business
If the focus of your business is the content you develop, whether blogs or articles, optimizing for AMP should be at the top of your list. The instructions for converting webpages into Google AMP formats are freely available on the official AMP page. There is plenty of material to use as a guide to optimizing for AMP.
If you have a WordPress blog, optimizing for AMP is extremely simple.
- Search the WordPress plugins for ‘AMP.’
- Download the AMP plugin along with the PageFrog plugin.
- Once installed and enabled, the WordPress AMP plugin will optimize your content to AMP.
- PageFrog can customize the design of the website. It has several design element options including, but not limited to colors, layout, logos, and fonts.
- PageFrog settings also allow to you select pages for optimization, instead of optimizing every page.
- Your new AMP pages can also be connected to Google Analytics using PageFrog. It also lets you enable ads on AMP Pages.
If you plan to use Google Analytics with AMP, set up a separate property for AMP pages. AMP analytics are limited; they work very differently to traditional pages. (To really understand analytics for content marketing, read The Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics & Metrics.)
If your website deals in written content and does not involve selling products, or other ecommerce activities, you should immediately make the move to Google AMP. Adopting AMP now will boost the visibility of your content, and the resulting impressions.
AMP analytics are currently limited, but Google expects to increase AMP tracking functionality. The right time to make the shift is passing as more businesses migrate towards AMP. Get ahead of the curve—make the move now. For further actionable SEO insights, read WordStream founder Larry Kim’s 8 Mind Blowing SEO Experiments That Will Forever Change Your Approach to SEO.