Google Launches Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – What This Means for Marketers
We’re only three months into the new year and Google continues to surprise us with changes that affect how we search on the internet. In January, we caught wind of Google’s Core Ranking Algorithm update, in which we’re still anxiously awaiting the official roll out of Penguin 4.0. Also, just last week all of the ads on the right-hand side of search engine results vanished. The latest change is completely focused on the mobile user experience. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) allow mobile users to quickly find information that they are searching for without being bombarded by ads and pop ups. Google explained that their objective was to “dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web by creating open technical standards to boost page speed and streamline ads with hopes that the ecosystem can build a faster, more engaging mobile web that will benefit everyone.” (Search Engine Land)
As we all know, mobile usage has become more popular than desktop usage in recent months. But this does not necessarily include using mobile devices to look at web results. The internet has become so cluttered with advertisements and pop ups that users tend to search for information via apps instead of typing their search queries into Google. “Only five percent of mobile media time is spent with the mobile web, according to the most recent data from Yahoo’s Flurry unit.” (Search Engine Land) In order to reverse this trend, Google started working on AMP back in October. AMP is structured in a way where ads cannot block page content and they “load about 4X faster and use 1/10 the data of pages not built in AMP.” This really fortifies the user experience on mobile phones.
Part of Google’s ranking algorithm takes into consideration whether a website is mobile-friendly and loads quickly. If a website is not mobile-friendly and loads slowly, there is virtually no chance that it will show up among the top results. Google is all about the user experience for the consumer. AMP is heightening that experience even more by delivering these instant articles. While AMP is not currently a ranking factor for Google, it would not be surprising if this changed in the future due to the increased user experience consumers will receive.
If you haven’t seen an AMP yet, check out the search query below for information on “gravitational waves” from Search Engine Land. In the first photo, you will notice a carousel of AMP pages right at the top of the search engine results. When you click on an AMP result, you will be brought to an article that fits your screen perfectly and is not being blocked by advertisements, as shown in the second and third pictures.
So now that you’ve been reading about Google’s new feature, how can you optimize your pages for a better user experience? We won’t get down to the nitty-gritty on how to “AMP” your website, but here are a few basic principles behind the optimization process.
- Maintain two versions of any article – original version and AMP version
- AMP pages cannot contain contact forms, comments, any other submission forms
- It is very likely that you’ll have to rewrite your website template to accommodate AMP restrictions to keep them within the loading speed guidelines
- Follow AMP image size guidelines
- Make sure your schema.org data markup is correct. “Schema.org meta data is a requirement to make your content eligible to appear in the demo of the Google Search news carousel.” (Search Engine Land)
AMP is still very new. Remember, it rolled out right at the end of February 2016, so we will continue to see the project evolve to better suit users’ needs. Currently, it does not support all pages and user experiences across the internet. AMP is primarily designed for publishing and content sites where users will find articles and news, but it is not optimized for e-commerce platforms yet. Google has plans to progress it to being a great platform for all sites.