Created to help developers build mobile-optimized content that loads instantly on all devices, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open-source coding standard backed by Google.
The AMP platform is a good fit for any online marketer, as it is tightly connected to the widespread use of smartphones and tablets. As global Internet users have altered their online behavior over the past three years, mobile use has skyrocketed and more people are online via mobile devices than on desktops and laptops. Therefore, marketers, webmasters, and website owners must address the new wave of change and accommodate their content delivery with the market demands.
Aiming to enhance the user experience by delivering information to mobile end-users as fast as possible, AMP is the next step in mobile content delivery. As major publishers continue to adopt AMP to meet the needs of their mobile users, you too should start thinking about making the change.
Want to learn more about AMP, what it means, and why it is so crucial for the success of your website? Read on to find out about this Google-endorsed coding standard, what new features it brings to the table, and how it has evolved since its release.
How Does AMP Work?
Essentially a muted version of HTML, AMP leverages existing web languages and technologies to deliver speed and reliability. Publishers can build light-weight web pages using AMP’s open-source framework, which consists of three core components:
- AMP HTML: A more restrictive subset of the classic HTML with custom tags and properties.
- AMP CDN: A content-delivery network that gathers all AMP-enabled pages and caches them to make automatic performance optimizations.
What are the Key Elements of AMP?
Because its main purpose is to speed up pages, AMP has a series of very specific traits and restrictions that webmasters and developers are required to follow. Below are the most notable restrictions you’ll encounter while using AMP.
CSS is allowed on AMP, but it is limited to 50 KB, and it must be inline. Furthermore, AMP requires a special amp-font extension, which stops certain fonts from displaying if they take too much time to load or encounter an error while loading.
To add images to these pages, you will have to utilize a custom amp-img element, and you also have to include a specific width and height for each image. For some developers, this may be problematic if their codes do not include the width and height of the images already. GIFs need a special amp-anim extended element as well.
Locally-hosted videos have to be embedded via HTML5, using a custom amp-video tag. Moreover, YouTube videos need to be embedded with a completely separate component called amp-youtube.
Social media buttons can be embedded in AMP using the desired platform’s extended component. Carousel and image lightboxes are also supported via amp-carousel and amp-image-lightbox elements, respectively.
In order to best clarify the type of content your are showcasing to search engines use schema.org metadata vocabulary. Also, schema.org metadata is required if you want it to appear in the Google news carousel.
What are the Advantages of AMP?
The largest benefit for users is, of course, speed. In a world that relies on instant gratification, delivering a faster mobile experience is crucial to delivering a better user experience overall. AMP pages are designed to load much faster than the average mobile-responsive page. In fact, they can load up to 85% faster than regular web pages.
According to a case study created by Soasta, mobile pages that load one second faster can boost conversion rates by up to 27%. Providing users with the information they need, when they need it, leads to better engagement, which ultimately reduces bounce rates.
- Improved SEO
As of right now, AMP is not a ranking factor, but given the scope and popularity of AMP, it is likely that it will be a ranking factor soon.
Although AMP is currently not a direct ranking factor, its speed and accessibility influence click-through-ratios, impressions, and overall mobile traffic which indirectly impacts mobile rankings positively.
- Support for Ads
One of AMP’s best features is that it allows webmasters to use and monetize ads on their websites so publishers do not have to worry about losing ad revenue when transitioning to this standard.
If your ads are simple, you can use the amp-ad extended component provided by some of the largest ad networks on the Internet: Amazon A9, Google AdSense, AOL AdTech, Adform, Smart AdServer, and many others (you can find the complete list of ad networks that support AMP implementations here).
If, however, your ad monetization is more complex (paywalls, subscriptions, etc.), you should try a different approach to implementing ads into your AMP page.
How Does Analytics Work on AMP?
In short, yes, analytics work with AMP – after all, it is crucial for any webmaster to be able to measure their site’s performance, right?
AMP not only allows you to track analytics, but it does it without slowing down your page’s loading speed. There are two methods to enable analytics on AMP. The easiest way to enable analytics is by using the amp-pixel element. While simple to implement (you just have to use the amp-pixel element with a GET request and certain variables), this type of analytics will only provide a page view count.
The other option for enabling analytics in AMP is by using the amp-analytics extended element. This method is more complicated, but it allows for customization of analytics interactions and in-depth website data.
Are There Any Issues AMP May Cause?
When evaluating AMP it is important to remember that this open-source project is still relatively new to the digital marketing scene. While no significant issues have been reported yet, projects with multiple developers are more likely to experience some hiccups due to differences in development styles and ideas. Furthermore, it’s difficult for people in different locations and time zones to collaborate efficiently on large projects such as AMP. The good news is that both developers and Google are working on viable solutions to remedy all the issues.
For example, some users have reported a bug in AMP that is potentially responsible for inflating Google Analytics (i.e. showing more page views than the real number or splitting single sessions into separate ones). While the problem has been documented, Google has publicly stated that it will not be easy to remedy. If you are experiencing this issue, you might want to take a look here. This is a complicated workaround, but it is quite likely that a better method will be discovered soon.
Is AMP Worth It?
Given the hype around AMP, you may be wondering if it is worth implementing. Briefly put, yes, you should invest in AMP. With 60% of searches now on smartphones and tablets, mobile devices are the preferred device for most Internet users.
To meet the user’s needs, websites need to offer a seamless mobile experience. AMP does exactly that; it allows easy access to companies through mobile browsers. Given all its advantages and the growing demand for speed, choosing AMP is a great investment for the future of your business. As more users turn to mobile, implementing AMP will most likely become essential to your online presence.