Accelerated Mobile Pages: everything you need to know

Accelerated Mobile Pages: everything you need to know

Feb 15 2016 | by SARA CRESSWELL

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are the new buzzword in the industry at the moment - but what are they and do you need to be adapting your content to prepare for them?

Launched by Google in Beta form currently, AMPs were an open source response to Facebook Instant and Apple News, designed to make content quicker and easier to consume on mobile devices.

These AMP news pages will appear in the rolling news carousel in mobile search results as shown below:

At the moment it is only used by large media companies such as The Guardian, BBC, Mashable and The Daily Mail, but it will go beyond the large news organisations at some point, and Google has been talking about it for a couple of months now, so it makes sense to be preparing.

Google’s last update was that AMPs would be rolled out across all mobile news searches this month, which hasn’t happened, but this does indicate that it probably isn’t far away. 

So, how does it work?

AMPs use simplified HTML code to speed up page load time, meaning that any complex page features such as mega menus, dropdowns, navigations, forms, non web-standard fonts and JavaScript features will all be stripped away.

As you can see in the image below the AMP page is simply a lightweight version of the main content page - no menu, just text, images and social share buttons:

Another great feature of AMPs is that you can still serve adverts on these pages (and it will integrate with Adsense too) so you can continue to earn revenue from your content.

While this stripped-back version of web pages will have a significant impact on page load speed, allowing companies to rank higher on mobile searches for this content, the lack of navigation on the page does mean that visitors will no longer have the ability to explore the website further and consume more of the information that is on offer.

It is therefore important to be aware of impact this will have on engagement levels - as pages are designed to consume content quickly with no ability to see what other content that site has available, bounce rate is likely to be higher. 

If this is a concern for you and the goals of your website then you can filter out AMPs in Google Analytics so that they don’t influence your overall web stats.

Why do I need to add AMPs to my site?

There’s a clear correlation between page speed and page engagement - so the faster the content loads, the more engaged people are. 

This is supported by data from industry expert Kissmetrics that shows that 40% of users abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, therefore from a user experience perspective not making your content easy and quick to consume on mobile is damaging to a brand.

Google make a point of saying that the current planned update is related to news-based content only, and at the moment, there’s no announcement that AMPs are relevant to any other type of content. However, if in future the roll out extends to impact non-news sites, then Google could potentially promote AMPs generally in mobile search results because, ultimately, they will provide a better user experience on mobile - one of the factors Google takes into account when ranking websites.

So, if they are rolled out beyond news sites then companies need to have their content ready to have maximum SEO benefit. Those sites that have content available as soon as the update is made are going to be reaching higher positions first, so make sure you have a presence.

Sara Cresswell

Accelerated Mobile Pages: everything you need to know