AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP - Accelerated Mobile PagesWe receive questions frequently about AMP. Most people have heard about it but what is it exactly? Others are wondering why all of a sudden do we need AMP? We answered all these questions and more, let us know what you think about AMP!

What is AMP?

AMP is a new term you may have recently heard, but what is it exactly? AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, a project from Google and Twitter designed to make really fast mobile pages. It consists of HTML, Javascript, and cache libraries that, thanks to specific extensions and AMP-focused properties, accelerate load speed for mobile pages, even if they feature ‘heavy’ content like infographics, PDFs, audio or video files.

Why do we need fast mobile pages? Who cares?

In a mobile first world, quick mobile web pages are vital for audience retention. We need fast websites to effectively reach and engage the ever-growing mobile market. No one wants to wait for a webpage to load 7+ seconds with cluttering ads blocking the information that they want. Users effectively “give up” on slower websites (they do not wait for slow websites to get fast, they click on a better site). Creating fast, well-organized websites require constant updates from synergistic development teams. AMP was created to answer the slow-website problem–making sites more robust.

What does AMP do?

In simpler terms, when users search for news or any general search term, Google will display a ‘carousel’ highlighting stories from AMP-enabled websites at the top of search results. AMP creates straightforward, easy to manage web pages and ads that are built in the open source format, load instantly, and give users a smooth, more engaging experience on mobile and desktop. Moreover, AMP gets rid of certain elements that take a substantial toll on your website’s speed and performance. In addition to benefitting the user, AMP also benefits the web developers using AMP technology. AMP can reduce the load on a server and improve performance against the traffic that is generated by mobile users. Mobile ranking can also be improved with AMP. “Mobile friendliness” and load times are key factors for organic mobile search results and so by utilizing AMP, your site can move higher on the search results ladder.

Facebook has already been utilizing AMP for their “Instant Articles”. Instead of loading a webpage in a browser instance, the Facebook app loads an Instant Article, distinguished by a lightning bolt icon, from their cache. Google AMP makes content more widely accessible and helps level the playing field for websites publishing articles. Subsequently, AMP can help promote the relevance of a wider range of articles in your Google search results.

How do I try AMP?

When an article or webpage has an AMP version available, it will display a small lightning bolt under the search result. Clicking on the AMP link loads a stripped-down, faster version of the article. More often than not, the webpage will be delivered directly from Google’s own caching servers.

How does AMP work?

AMP pages use a smaller set of HTML, so the look and feel can be a little different than you’re used to. For example, Forms, are not a part of the AMP-HTML features and most Javascript is restricted, so there is no overload. You never have to leave the app to see the article because the results are generated from Google’s own server. The webpage looks like your site, but behind the scenes, the user is still on Google, which changes the game a bit, since before your site had to have the bandwidth to support those users. An alternate version of each page is required to start using AMP. If you are using a CMS like WordPress or Drupal, there are several plugins and modules that can help perform most of the repetitive tasks. If you are not using one of those, then, Google’s documentation is a good place to start.

And What About Ads?

Most JavaScript is forbidden on AMP markup, but there are ways to allow publishers to include ads and analytics on AMP generated pages. Third party scripts can also be used, as long as they are AMP enabled. Ads on AMP pages are intended to be non-intrusive causing no trade offs for revenue. AMP also supports paywalls and subscriptions. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have developed AMP specific libraries for this purpose. Google has a list of available components to help with subscriptions as well.

Biggest takeaways of AMP?

AMPs were developed to favor readability and speed. AMP images are lazy loaded, meaning that they won’t load unless scrolled into view. Ads displace content, rather than popping up and blocking your view. AMPs style rulings ensure that animations can be GPU-accelerated. Mobile friendly sites already rank higher than regular sites do when using a mobile search, and while mobile SEO does not account for AMP pages at the moment, it is probable that they will be taking top ranks for future searches. All in all, speed is key when trying to reach your audience and keep them on your site. With AMP, users get the fastest experience possible.

We have covered some of the basic but be sure to check out Wired, Moz and AMP Project for more information about AMP!