Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open sourced website technology that has been throwing its weight around the last couple of years. It is attempting to place a foothold in the future language of the mobile web with Google and Twitter leading the way. This is essentially a response to Facebook’s Instant Articles and its endgame is to give the user a more free-flowing, quicker web experience whilst on the move. Although, with limited advertising tags and an open source protocol that navigates users away from a landing page’s native site can AMP catch on?
Sorry, what exactly is it?
It is, in short, a stripped back version of the HTML code and its function is purely to speed up the loading time of pages on the mobile web.
How much faster?
Super, high-speed fiber optic… concord, fast – CNBC reported a 387% decrease in loading time on AMP pages and Gizmodo reported AMP pages to load three times faster than non-amp pages. Which means it’ll load in way under a second.
Will it work alongside my standard desktop code?
Yes. When a standard webpage has an AMP counterpart, a link to the AMP page is usually placed in the HTML tag in the source code of the standard page. When the web crawlers scout out websites, it recognises the AMP version and will load that instead of the standard version.
Here’s a handy diagram from the guys at Moz.com –
What do you mean by open sourced?
AMP pages are stored on the Open Web and these can be viewed in current browsers. Any organisation or individual can build products or features which will work on AMP pages, provided they comply with the AMP Project specifications. Follow their guide to start building here.
What is the framework for AMP?
Three main components:
- AMP HTML, which is standard HTML with web components.
- AMP Caches which will serve and validate a page.
Ok but what exactly is the difference?
It’s a diet version of HTML. It basically cuts out a lot of the standard code. Here are some of the main differences:
- Uses a streamlined version of CSS.
- It will control all resource downloads – prioritising loading resources first then resource downloads catch up after.
- External resources – such as images, ads or I-frames must state their size in the HTML code so that AMP can determine each element’s size and position them before resources are downloaded.
What are the AMP Guidelines?
Yes. We all know there’s a strong relationship between site speed and conversion rate. If users are happy with a fast-loading site, they’re more likely to subscribe to a list or purchase a product. Currently, Google hasn’t factored in AMP specifically in its ranking system. Although indirectly it will get you a higher organic ranking in the search results.
So it will help my organic ranking?
Yes. All of this matters for SEO because faster web pages generally improve bounce rates and correlate to higher conversion rates.
Not only does AMP content appear in organic results. They even have their own top stories carousel at the top of organic searches. No doubt, to encourage more publishers to use AMP – as you can see in the pic (Search Engine Journal).
“AMP pages rely heavily on standardised banner ad units and don’t allow publishers to sell customised ad units, sponsorships or pop-up ads as they might on their own properties” The Wall Street Journal’s Jack Marshall.
Despite the above many sites are claiming to generate approximately the same revenue. CNN’s chief product officer Alex Wellen said – AMP Pages “largely monetise at the same rate” as standard mobile pages.
Below is how AMP promises to combat this with the recently launched ‘AMP Ad’s Initiative’ –
This includes support for faster loading adverts and more formats to become available due to the current reliance on standard banner ads. This is changing pace which is great news! However when displaying ads from a third party – be sure to deliver ads that load quickly as it may cause continuity issues for the user.
Can I track the data still?
There are analytics tools in place already. Google recommends you “set up and use a separate Google Analytics property for AMP measurement.” This will allow you to monitor and compare both versions of the site separately.
If you are using WordPress, you can download the AMP plugin by Automattic. This will allow you to track your AMP pages in your Google Analytics account.
What are the downsides to AMP?
- Well, they are mainly rooted in that it’s stripped a lot of the fancy stuff away.
- At this moment, AMP remains in its infancy, despite the positive results AMP has had for major brands. There doesn’t seem to be an urgency to switch to an AMP format. A website with responsive web design will generally be as effective at this stage.
- Most search engine users – and businesses – still don’t know what AMP even is.
The simple fact of the matter is that AMP is here to make your mobile pages run faster. They have succeeded in doing that. The open source protocol means anybody can have a go. AMP is also improving itself every day. So, if you want to start building your AMP pages, follow the tutorials here.