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Get amped for lightning fast mobile pages

Fri, 22/09/2017 - 10:48

AMP. At first thought, you would think of a sound amplification enhancer. But no, not that one. I'm talking about that “lightning bolt thing” in mobile search results. 

Yes, This one.


Enter AMP – Google’s answer to near instantaneous load times of mobile web pages. 

AMP has been around for a while (since February 2016) and yet when people see the AMP logo in search results (yes, that's the “lightning bolt thing” I was referring to), they have no idea what it is, or what it means. 

So, I want to provide answers to these three common questions about AMP.

What is it and how does it work?
What are the benefits?
Why should I care?

What and How?

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and, in its simplest form, makes your mobile web pages load very fast (literally instantaneously). Google states that AMP pages can load up to 85% faster than normal mobile web pages.

How in the world does it do that? Well, AMP takes your average mobile web page, strips it down to the bare necessities by getting rid of unnecessary web elements, like JS and other third party scripts, to provide users with the essentials to view and consume your content. In essence, fewer calls are made by the browser to fetch and eventually view content. 

Therefore, it’s perfect to view stories and news content. I don’t care about your cool spinning image rotator, just show me the content!

AMP does not replace your current mobile page, it is simply a faster version of your main mobile page. You choose which one to use through a canonical tag. 

Want to see what it looks like? Have a go at the AMP demo:

-Take that fancy smartphone of yours.
-Open up a browser (any browser).
-Type in g.co/ampdemo.
-Type in popular keyword phrases like “Jacob Zuma,” “Where is Johannesburg” or “Uranus” into the Google search box.
-Hit “Send”.
-Look for the AMP lightning logo next to the Description tag. 

You’ll find that only some ads and the menu bar at the top are missing. So, don’t worry if you were thinking that the entire page is going to look completely different.

Benefits

As mentioned above, it's fast, insanely fast. Web pages that can load quickly come with a host of advantages for site owners.

As of yet, AMP is not an official ranking signal, but good UX and faster page speeds are. Google’s aim is to help users. So, when you provide users with a page that loads fast, Google will prefer the faster page over a slower page with more or less the same content.

AMP pages come with a special lightning bolt logo that appears in search results. This indicates to users that it’s an AMP page. Knowing it will load faster, they might be more likely to choose to view the AMP page over a non-AMP page for the same search query. 

Having faster pages decreases your bounce rate and increases your click-through rate, both factors leading to sites with higher engagements metrics. 

In Google search results there is a special spot for AMP carousels only and Google is constantly making updates to how these carousels will be displayed.

Why should you care?

Apart from all the benefits mentioned above, mobile is busy overtaking its desktop counterpart, with Google indicating that nearly 60% of all Google searches are now from mobile devices. From this data, Google launched the Mobile First Indexation that will kick off late this year or early next year. 

Mobile First indicates that your mobile site will now be the authority on your ranking signals. Basically, poor mobile site = poor overall rankings. 

AMP, AMP carousels, Mobile First – These are all signals from Google telling us to push our mobile sites to be user friendly. Bossy? Maybe. But one has to stop and think that if Google is pushing SO hard, should we not comply? The simple answer is a definitive yes! Helping customers answer questions when they visit your site in the fastest, simplest way possible is always advised and Google will reward you. 

As mentioned above, AMP is not yet a ranking signal, but with all the updates Google is making to push mobile-friendly sites, rather stay ahead of the curve. We never know when and what the next big algorithm update might bring. 

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