Should we implement AMP on our website? Will it give us a lift in organic traffic? These are questions on the mind of many publishers.
Hundreds of top publishers from around the world have adopted Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to improve their organic search results.
AMP promises faster pages and better rankings but demands radical mobile optimization.
Will the time and effort it takes to implement AMP be worth it in the long run?
What is AMP?
AMP pages are essentially stripped down HTML pages designed to transmit quickly — almost instantly — to mobile devices.
They make the mobile web experience much more enjoyable, as the pages load smoothly and fast.
AMP was originally designed for publishers — in particular news publishers — as a way to deliver content to mobile browsers quickly, though its use has spread beyond the publishing world.
AMP was designed primarily for text, with a few inline images (think newspaper and magazine articles). It’s not always suitable for large, complex pages.
The open source AMP initiative has Google as a sponsor, but it is not a program owned by Google, and its also supported by Bing, Baidu, Twitter, Pinterest, and many other parties.
This free framework allows you to build pages that work like a stripped-down version of your main pages, that function without the speed-taxing elements that impact load time.
Most of the HTML used on an AMP page is standard HTML, however, there are some AMP-specific tags that enable performance improvements.
When implemented, AMP makes your mobile pages load instantly.
A lot of that speed is achieved with design restrictions, but the crucial advantage comes from a clever rendering trick that begins loading your page before it's even visited.
Content Management Systens such as WordPress have AMP functionality built into them, with AMP being enabled as a default on all pages created on WordPress.
Google indicates in the search results on mobile devices if a particular page is an AMP page by placing a small, gray lightning bolt symbol (a small gray circle with a white lightning bolt) on the first line of a search result.
What are the advantages of AMP?
- AMP pages load almost instantly across all devices.
- Pages built using AMP HTML create a better user experience.
- There's a significant correlation between site speed, page views, and mobile search engine rankings.
- Implementing AMP can be as easy as enabling a plug-in on Wordpress or adding additional code to your site.
- If an AMP page fails the Google validation steps, the original non-amp version will still appear within search results.
What are the disadvantages of AMP?
- Although AMP works with Google Analytics, you have to use a different tag, which can be quite time-consuming. If you dont include the new tag, you miss out on a ton of analytics information.
- AMP doesn't work with any other tags except Google Analytics.
- Because AMP strips content down to the bare bones and hosts it all within Googles server, everything starts to look alike.
- Not everyone feels comfortable to give up their content and let it be served from Googles cache.
- AMP allows Google full control over content monetisation.
- Not all AMP adopters may see a huge lift in results, though, because they havent taken the time to understand it thoroughly, or because it doesnt make sense for them to use AMP.
- AMP is not really appropirate for those selling a range of products or wanting to offer impressive, high-resolution images to their users.
- There are cases though where desktop versions were indexed first for mobile, even though an AMP version was available.
- Its hard for users to do anything from an AMP experience except go back to Google search results.
- Some publishers reported that AMP pages generate less advertising revenue per page than non-AMP pages.
Should I use AMP?
Accelerated Mobile Pages are not for everyone. Whether you should adopt this technology or not really does depend on a number of factors.
Some example are below:
- If you have a news site then AMP is a good fit for you.
- If you have an image heavy site or a ecommerce site then AMP is not a good fit.
- If you need more than just Google Analytics tracking then AMP is not a good fit.
- If you are a SaaS business it could end up hurting your conversions if you are not careful.
- If its relatively easy to implement on your content management system then it may be worth implementing.
While I’d expect AMP pages to perform better in Google and for users in most cases, these benefits need to be weighed up against the effort and time required to transition to AMP and the potential end result
At this point, the decision to introduce AMP should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
I personally don't think you need to rush and implement AMP if you are not a news portal, blogger, or content publisher. At the moment, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
However, as SEO continues to move away from computer towers and onto mobile screens and other devices, the rate of adoption for AMP and other similar technologies will only accelerate. Social networks such as Twitter or Tumblr are working on AMP support in their iOS and Android apps.
Because AMP is still in its infancy, time will bring about improvements.
However, as always user uptake will determine whether this technology will be around for a while yet or whether it will fizzle out like so many before it.