Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages: What You Need to Know

Smartphone and tablet users are a dominant force in internet traffic these days, but going online with a mobile device still isn’t always the convenient, pleasant experience that it should be.

There are plenty of annoyances that make mobile web surfing a chore like long load times, screen-hogging ads, and the whole pinch and zoom browsing experience. Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project is an ambitious plan to help web publishers and media companies improve the browsing experience of phone and tablet surfers by reducing page load times and softening obnoxious ads.

What is Google’s AMP?

The AMP project aims to provide websites with a new form of HTML coding, referred to as AMP HTML, that strips down content presented to mobile users. According to Google, “Accelerated Mobile Pages are web pages designed to load instantaneously – they are a step towards a better mobile web for all.”

The end result is that — on pages utilizing AMP HTML coding — a mobile user will be served simplified, streamlined text and images that load 10X faster than traditionally coded content.

Does It Affect SEO?

Page load speed and mobile-friendliness are just two of the few ranking factors Google has ever confirmed publicly. Websites that load fast and are effectively catering to smartphone and tablet users perform better on Google search. Adding Google’s AMP HTML to your website can positively impact both of these factors.

AMP content benefits publishers more directly by appearing above the fold in certain search results pages (SERPs). For now, accelerated content is zooming to the head of the class. That alone makes it a valuable opportunity for web publishers.

Here’s an example of how AMP content is featured in SERPs:

Mobile SERP showing an Accelerated Mobile Page

The Positives

The potential benefits stretch beyond the realm of search engine rankings. Faster-loading pages translate into fewer frustrated users, more page views, and better overall engagement with content. In general, AMP holds potential to strengthen the publisher/reader relationship and to expand the reach publishers have with their content.

Facebook’s Instant Articles, a similar content delivery speed boosting project from the social media giant, is currently only open to a small set of publishers. Google’s initiative is, theoretically (more on this in a second), open to any web publisher willing to alter some coding in order to better cater to mobile users.

The Negatives

AMP content currently cannot include forms. If a page’s primary function is to act as a lead generation tool by capturing reader subscriptions or contact information, AMP coding would likely downgrade that page’s effectiveness.

Because it lacks forms and some other vital features, Google’s accelerated mobile pages are not suited to e-commerce sites that don’t rely on blog posts or articles to generate traffic. For an e-commerce company, design and functionality constraints could easily make AMP HTML an inferior option to traditional HTML.

Another negative is that if your CMS doesn’t support AMP, you’ll need to spend some money upfront to build it in as an additional feature.

Is It For You?

For many sites, the current lack of e-commerce-friendly features mean the negatives outweigh the positives — at least for web pages that exist for lead generation.

On the other hand, Google’s AMP is an open source project that will add new components rapidly. The next round of advancements could easily include a feature or two that completely transforms the way accelerated mobile is used.

Testing the loading speed and the mobile-friendliness of your pages is a great way to get started on your journey to better serving the growing mobile audiences on the web.

If you’d like to discuss Google’s accelerated mobile pages project or other opportunities to improve your website’s performance, contact 1bg today!

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