Google’s focus on the mobile experience continues to increase in prominence, particularly with the official unveiling of the mobile-first index. You may have even received a notification in your Google Search Console that your website(s) has been enrolled in the index already. If you have a fully responsive website that loads fast on mobile, you are already in a good position for the mobile-first index – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
This is where Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) step in; an open source initiative that is designed to make the transition to a fully mobile responsive (regardless of device) website easier. It essentially strips down HTML files to make a super-fast, mobile-friendly copy of your web page. You may have seen some already, which are distinguished by a small lightning bolt symbol in the SERPs.
But to some, the task of implementing AMP seems daunting and many are sceptical to its benefits. One thing to note is that the AMP project is continuously under development and is by no means the finished article. This in itself goes to show that it is actively supported by Google and will no doubt be among their standard roster going forward.
Implementing AMP really differs from website to website, and it really depends on the platform you’re using as to whether the process is straightforward or not. If you are unsure about whether you should pursue AMP, let’s take a look at how it has progressed so far and what its real benefits are currently and for the future.
AMP: It’s Current State
AMP was originally created as a competitor to Facebook’s “Instant Articles” and were solely used for news carousel results. However, these days AMP results are seen throughout organic search results, thought you could easily miss their trademark lightning bolt symbol.
The Accelerated Mobile Pages project in its entirety has actually developed over a three year period, although you may not have heard of it until more recently. Here is a timeline of milestone AMP related news so far:
- 24, 2016: Google launches its Accelerated Mobile Pages project
- 20, 2016: Google incorporates AMP into its search results
- 21, 2017: AMP Ads complete phase 2 of development
- 13, 2018: AMP Stories are introduced
- 7, 2018: The Official WordPress Plugin is released
The popularity of AMP has increased all over the world, with AMP results being served in many different native search engines such as Baidu, Sogou and Yahoo Japan. Development continues to AMP for Ads and Landing Pages. Not only this buy many of the top publishers around the world have added AMP to their websites in order to improve their organic search positions – the number of total domains that have adopted AMP has already surpassed 31 million last year.
Should You Be Using AMP?
AMP caching improves mobile page speed –that’s undeniable. It’s also tangible to suggest that Google favours AMP in the search results, because why wouldn’t it? It’s a Google product and it strives to improve mobile user experience, which continues to be one of Google’s top priorities. But introducing AMP to your website does come with a few caveats.
Firstly, AMP only comes into play if a user visits the AMP version of the page. In order for this to happen, the AMP version of the page needs to be indexed by Google (or other search engines), and this will only happen if it has been implemented correctly. Studies have shown that the AMP library can reduce the number of server requests to fetch a document by as much as 77 percent, but the AMP version is not always served due to common implementation errors.
The analytics and tracking behind AMP pages is currently quite limited, although it is continuing to grow and there’s no doubt there will be far more features in the near future.
One of the more noticeable points about AMP is the sacrifice of many design and UX elements. AMP strips away many features and visuals, essentially sacrificing creativity for efficiency. But this only breeds more creativity – you’d be surprised what ideas you can come up with in such a minimal setting.
So Should You Implement AMP?
There are certainly benefits to adding AMP to your website, but you should only do so with the proper resource available. The implementation is made far easier on platforms such as WordPress, who have received an official AMP plugin, but you may find it more difficult with custom built websites or less-supported CMS platforms.
The undeniable truth is that Google has placed a huge focus on mobile user experience, and AMP is the next step to refining how visitors use and navigate your website on their mobile devices.