SEO Tips: April 2017

Should I Consider Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) For My Website?

What is AMP?

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a project Google announced in Fall 2015, with early partners and adopters in Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest, LinkedIn, among others. The project allows for stripped down versions of a webpage for the purposes of quicker load times on mobile devices.

Similar to Facebook's Instant Articles, it is often considered a kind "HTML-lite", in that it utilizes pre-defined libraries and eliminates/restricts a lot of commonly used, but slower loading web development elements, particularly JavaScript (JS). There's limited access to some AMP compliant JavaScript libraries called AMP JS, but beyond that, JS isn't supported; the same holds true for CSS. New <amp> tags replace some of the lost functionalities, but not all.

Pros:

The primary advantage for AMP is quicker load times, particularly when the mobile devies are on slower networks. Indeed, it's the reason everything is so stripped down; if it's something that could slow down how the page loads, it's most likely not going to be supported. So if mobile is a large percentage of traffic for a website, it's certainly something to at least consider.

In addition, AMP pages are displayed in Google search result pages with an AMP icon that looks like a little lightning bolt and for some queries AMP pages are prominently displayed in carousels. The combination of improved visibility and quicker load times, then, theoretically stands to improve a site's click-through rates(CTR) on mobile devices. Finally, Google will often cache AMP pages and when it can, serve it directly from their servers, giving you the benefits of a CDN without paying for one.

Cons:

The primary disadvantage for AMP is that there's simply not a lot of flexibility- it's the price to pay for the restricted libraries. There's some built in libraries for serving ads, but full ecommerce functionality is difficult to impossible with AMP, as are many interactive applications. If it's not mainly static, it's going to be difficult to do with AMP and the required adoption time and costs could be higher for sites that absolutely need expanded functionality beyond text and images.

Who is this ideally suited for?

Nearly a year later, the main adopters for AMP have been publishers: news and media sites that churn out a lot of static content - text and images - and that don't require much user interaction. You'll find AMP pages for eBay and a few other retailers, but for smaller sites, the adoption rate has been fairly low.

But in theory, any site that uses content marketing for their business could create AMP pages for their pieces of content. Sites built on WordPress or that have blogs built on WordPress integrated into their site can do this very quickly with plugins; new AMP versions of existing pages are created and canonical tags handle the rest.

Is AMP right for my site?

If interactive web applications like forms, custom comparisons, filtering, etc. are a key component of your business's website or if mobile is not a significant revenue stream, AMP may not be for you, at least for most of the site. But if blogging or content marketing is something you're already leveraging, AMP might be something to consider on some pages, particularly if mobile traffic is a business priority.

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