The Beginner’s Guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages

Published: March 7, 2016  by 

The Beginners Guide to Accelerated Mobile PagesAccelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) have been generating buzz in the digital marketing world lately. However, a quick search doesn’t reveal much except bits of code and articles filled with industry slang. Until now.

We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about Accelerated Mobile Pages and why you should care about them, without the jargon and technical details.

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

First things first: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are essentially designed to make mobile web pages load really fast. More specifically, they are designed to make publisher’s pages (think blogs, news & magazine articles, etc) load 3-4 times faster than standard mobile pages.

Although, Google hopes to apply AMP to all mobile content, it currently is most applicable to published text. The code is basically a slimmed down version of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language i.e. how web pages are made). It’s still HTML, just without things that take a while to load such as images and videos.

While this might seem like a new and exciting addition to the growing mobile market, if you have a good web development team they are probably already applying the same principles. AMP HTML is based off of existing web technologies, so a good developer is probably already implementing the same practices included in the AMP code.

If you don’t have access to a stellar development team or are trying to build a website by yourself, AMP becomes very useful. It puts all web development best practices into one piece of code that can be applied with intermediate web development skills. So, AMP HTML is basically just a nice package to make web devs’ lives easier and to help the rest of us not well-versed in web best practices create fast loading pages for mobile.

Why Do I Need AMP?

Although AMP is currently in demo-only mode, Google has announced that it will begin sending mobile traffic to AMP pages beginning February 2016. Since this is their initiative, it only makes sense they will give precedence to pages using AMP. In fact, Google will be pulling articles and pages using AMP into a carousel at the top of the page, which takes up ¾ to 100% of the screen, depending on the screen size. “Below the fold” is where all other sites appear and users must scroll down to see them.

 

Image of demo version of AMP on mobile

 

To give your site the best possible advantage, you will want any of your text-related content to appear in the carousel. For example, if a potential customer searches “which roof color looks best with brick” on their mobile phone, you will want your blog post to appear at the top of the page in the carousel in order to have the best chance at driving traffic to your site. You will need a talented team to not only develop that mobile page in AMP style, but also an SEO expert to make sure that page will be found by Google.

How Will AMP Change My Site?

This is only a change in terms of how your page appears on mobile. For example, if you have a text page on desktop that features a few images and a video, you might see a difference on mobile. This is because those elements will only load after the text has finished loading for the portion of the page that is in sight of the user. If none of these elements appear above the fold, then they won’t load until the user scrolls down. In some cases you may lose any fancy formatting that was present on the page.

Those complicated elements cause the page to load slowly, which many users on mobile do not have the patience for and could cause them to abandon the page before it finishes loading. A page written with AMP will not affect your desktop pages in any way.

How Much Will It Cost Me?

AMP requires a fair amount of expertise to implement. Because of this, WordPress has already created a plugin to help with the implementation of AMP and other content management systems (CMS) are expected to follow suit. Although the plugin is easy to implement, some template modifications may have to be made to the page in order to retain design aesthetics. You should expect to pay a little extra for this additional service, but not a huge amount. Investing in faster loading pages and enhanced user experience on mobile is well worth the dollars you spend up front.

What’s the Benefit to Me?

Besides the obvious benefits stated above (i.e. top of search, Google favor, etc) there’s a great benefit to users. People on mobile want what they want and they want it now, not after obtrusive ads load. The overall goal of Accelerated Mobile Pages is to make the user experience on mobile better. Last year, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches for the first time. This is not to say that you should throw out desktop and only focus on mobile, but it is to say that mobile is becoming increasingly important.

Having a good user experience means your customers will find your site and possibly take an action leading to a sale. Another advantage of implementing AMP is the mobile friendly tag. The mobile friendly tag appears in search results on mobile next to each site.

Image of mobile friendly tag in SERPs

The mobile friendly tag lets the user know if the site is easy to read and loads quickly (among other things) on mobile devices. Your site may already have a tag, but with the launch of AMP it can be reasonably assumed that the parameters for the mobile friendly tag will begin to narrow. Following all best practices recommended by Google will ensure you maintain your mobile friendly tag in the years to come.

While AMP may seem like a fad it won’t be going anywhere. This is a very important initiative to Google, and it seems like it will only grow in the coming years. You will only be at an advantage the sooner you implement AMP pages for your site. Because this is new, Google will still be working out any issues and you can do the same right along with them.

However, if you wait you could end up paying for it in the long run with lower search result rankings and decreased traffic.

The code for AMP is open-source and can be found on GitHub. Information related to the WordPress plugin can be found here if you need help. For more information related to AMP, visit Google’s blog.