It was back in October 2015 when Google first announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, and since then, we’ve seen more and more supported features added, increasing visibility and improved accessibility through tons of updates.
The sceptic in me meant that I ended up reading tons of articles on AMP, so I could gather a real idea of what it is, the way other brands are adopting it, how it’s going for them, and how it can help me. Let me take you through what I’ve found.
There’s a good chance that you already know what AMP is, or you’ve at least heard about it. For those of you that haven’t (and for the sake of completeness), AMP is an open-source coding standard, allowing for stripped down HTML pages to be served to mobile users in a much smaller timeframe.
AMP allows websites to serve lighter versions of their mobile pages to users by removing almost all of the unnecessary chunky resources needed to load a typical mobile page. It’s essentially the Diet Coke of the HTML page world!
When first launched, AMP was hailed to mostly be useful for news and content sharing websites but Google have been working hard to make AMP accessible to everyone, from e-commerce to recipe sites.
Why is it important?
User experience (UX) has always been a key priority for Google, and page speed has always been one of the biggest issues affecting UX (especially with the growing use of mobile), so it’s more important than ever to achieve that optimal page speed.
Research undertaken by Google showed that 40% of users wait no more than 3 seconds for a page to load before leaving a website. With standard mobile pages having an average load time of around 22.0 seconds, compared to AMP which only takes on average 0.7 seconds, it’s quite clear why AMP is important. It’s worth remembering too, page speed IS a ranking factor, even if AMP isn’t one in its own right…yet!
Along with improving page speed, there’s also the ranking of these pages. AMP enables websites to become eligible for claiming some above the fold search result real-estate, in the form of the Top Stories carousel. If this isn’t always attainable (as there’s some strong competition), as announced in early August this year, AMP will also be brought into the main organic mobile search results.
Although it was only rolled out across Google’s mobile search results in February this year, initial adoption has been impressive – even with some SEO’s being cautious about implementing.
At Google’s annual I/O conference, it was announced that over 125M AMP documents, across over 650M domains, had been indexed. Statistics released by Google in August highlighted continued growth, with 150M AMP documents now indexed, and over 4M new ones being added weekly – impressive!
In addition to Google’s data, John Shehata of Searchmetrics highlighted further growth on AMP usage, revealing that the number of analysed websites that were using AMP had increased from only 3% in March to 11.6% in June 2016.
There’s clear growth in usage, but when considering the amount of content suitable for AMP versus the actual uptake, there’s still a long way to go.
Now I’d love to say AMP is relatively easy to implement – but I’d be lying. It can be a bit of a pain to get right and meet all the requirements. Add the fact that structured data is required to even be eligible for the Top Stories carousel, and all this begs one question, is it actually worth it?
If asked in July, I would have told you it’s business dependent – now that we know AMP is being brought into Google’s main organic mobile search results, absolutely.
Some big publishers are seeing some great results off of the back of this. The Washington Post has seen strong increases in reader retention, growing their rate of returning visitors in a 7-day timeframe from 51% to 63% through their AMP pages, which were seen to load 88% faster than their traditional mobile website. Strong improvements in user-behaviour.
On a smaller scale, Builtvisible also saw improvements after they managed to make their way into the Top Stories carousel for the search term ‘Google’. As you’d expect, they had tons of impressions, but a small number of clicks (0.17% CTR). They were competing with the likes of BBC News though. Either way, there’s a clear traffic opportunity!
Not everyone is seeing noticeable improvements; SEO Roundtable in particular reported dips in CTR when comparing mobile pages vs. AMP pages, but generally speaking, AMP brings more positives than negatives, and although in its infancy still, we’re seeing some promising stats accompanied with clear continued growth.
Although it was confirmed by John Mueller that AMP is not a ranking signal (YET), it does still have a massive effect on SEO. Given the premise of AMP in providing fast, mobile-optimised content, it does tick the box of two confirmed ranking signals already.
This is really being pushed by Google at the moment, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they eventually add some form of ranking boost to AMP’ed content.
Google are always improving/changing their search results. With AMP almost completely resolving the core consumer issues with a typical mobile experience, this is going to become their core driving force to improving what is a generally poor mobile web.
AMP will start to take precedence in the mobile SERPs – it provides the experience a user wants and that which Google wants to provide to a user.
After reading into AMP, there seems to be a limited number of reasons why I shouldn’t try it out in comparisons to reasons why I should, added with the fact that Google is now making it near impossible to ignore.
The sceptic in me has been persuaded, it’s a no brainer for me, and it should be for you too. Consumers want speed, get fast or finish last.