AMP: Accelerated Mobile Pages

What are they and should you use them on your website.

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Launched in February 2016 AMP, also known as Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a project focused on creating fast-loading web pages for people browsing on mobile devices. It has been surprisingly slow to take off across the web but it’s starting to gain traction and adoption of the tech is rapidly accelerating.
 
Originally the brainchild of Google and Twitter, it has also been backed by WordPress, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Bing to name a few, and the project’s main goal is to deliver a faster mobile browsing experience. But why focus on the mobile experience? Well, it’s reported that approximately a 1/3 of internet users only access the web from a smartphone. However, websites are primary designed for a desktop user with the mobile version being a secondary design focus. Meaning that quite often users have a poor mobile experience which AMP is designed to improve.
 
The basic HTML framework for AMP is designed to create web pages with a lot of the bells and whistles removed. For example, certain HTML tags are off-limits and you can only use a streamlined version of CSS. But it comes with several benefits when implemented onto a site…

Accelerated Mobile Pages Icon
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Faster loading speed & Increased Website Conversions

Accelerated mobile pages can load up to 85% faster than non-AMP. And when you consider that a slow loading page is one of the biggest drivers of a high bounce rate (people leaving your site quickly/without clicking on another page) you can see why AMP is something you may want to consider for your website. Plus, did you know that a 1-second delay in your web page loading can decrease your conversion rate by 7%? So a fast loading page not only helps to help retain visitors to your site it also helps to increase your conversions.

Improved Search Engine Ranking

Officially AMP isn’t a ranking factor for search engines but page loading speed is. And thanks to the lightning-fast load speeds you get with AMP it stands to reason that this will help to give you a boost in the rankings.

Highlighted on Google SERPs
(Search Engine Result Pages)

When you get a page of search results back from Google an AMP site will have a little lightning icon alongside it (like the one further up this page). This icon indicates to people familiar with that this will be a fast loading and well-designed page for them to visit on their mobile device, increasing the likelihood that they will select this page over the other results they’re served.

Improved Advert Views

AMP has been coded in a way to give better usability to banners and images. Meaning that it helps to give your sites advertising a higher viewability rate, in turn meaning you can improve the monetisation of your ad slots.

Placement in Google Top Stories Carousel

At the time of writing the only articles that appear in the Google top stories news carousel are accelerated mobile pages. Which means you have to have an AMP site to get into this premium position on Google’s search results. However, this is set to change in 2021 and organic results will also begin to feature in this position so don’t count this as a long term benefit.
 
So we’ve covered the benefits, but it wouldn’t be right for us to not make you aware of some of the cons to implementing AMP on your site.
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Design Limitations

For you to get the lightning-fast speeds available with AMP you are restricted with what you can do from a design perspective. JavaScript and CSS limitations mean that extra styling and functionality is sacrificed which can have a big impact if your brand has a strong visual identity.

Cached Pages

One of the key ways AMP achieves it’s fast loading speeds is because the visitor is seeing a version of your web page that has previously been cached (stored) by Google on their servers. Meaning they aren’t getting the current version direct from your site.

Implementing AMP

Whilst AMP is officially a plug-in it’s not a plug and play situation. Once plugged in it needs be configured, it also has to be search engine optimised, discoverability needs to be ensured and more. Meaning that adding AMP functionality to your site will come with a decent investment into extra web development.
 
And that leads us onto the main question…

Do You Need AMP?

In reality, AMP isn’t necessary for the vast majority of websites out there. However, there are two main areas we would recommend it for. Namely e-commerce websites where AMP can increase sales by an additional 20%, and publishing sites focused on news content, where users expect a fast and easy navigation experience. As for everything else, we say you don’t have to have AMP, but you absolutely do need to be mobile optimised.
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