Accelerated Mobile Pages – What Are They and Should You Care?

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an idea intended to improve using the web on mobile devices. It’s designed to address the typically slow loading speeds experienced by mobile users in a web that’s chockablock full of ads, forms, widgets, popups etc. AMP pages load about 4 – 8 times faster than “normal” web pages.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

It only supports a small subset of the functionality that “full-featured” web pages do. As a result AMP pages load and display really fast. This is good because pages that are loaded with ads tend to display very slowly on mobile devices.

Although the technology has been created by Google and Twitter, it’s open source, so anybody can use and extend AMP in many ways. The idea is to allow AMP to be used as widely as possible.

You provide the content by supplying it on your site in a special format called AMP, then Google will take it automatically and display it direct from Google instead of from your site, and credit you at the bottom of the page. As the user experience is held to be better, these pages will be ranked higher in search.

The backstory

Mobile devices are generally slower than laptops/desktops due to less memory and slower download speeds. This problem was first addressed by Facebook who brought out something called Facebook Instant Articles. We all love to read articles linked to from our Facebook feeds, but the experience – Facebook determined – was not good.

Artificial Intelligence in search

Facebook Instant Articles allows content providers to upload articles directly to Facebook where they are served. Google and Twitter wanted in on this idea, so they created Accelerated Mobile Pages in late 2015. The difference is that AMP is open source, meaning other providers/developers can utilise the technology without paying for it.

What can AMP pages do (and not do)?

AMP pages deliberately only support a cut-down version of what normal web pages support. So, they don’t support forms, popups, JavaScript and other slow-making gubbins.

What about my ad revenue?

Ads will still be supported in AMP. It makes no sense for AMP not to support ads since most revenue on the web is generated through advertising. Almost all of the major ad networks are supported. Ads can also be loaded from your own domain as well as from ad networks.

AMP and SEO?

AMP should give you an SEO boost as Google recognises that user experience counts for a lot, not just quality of content.

Who is using it now?

Actually less than 1% of all websites are currently using AMP. But those that do are tending to be the big content providers such as newspaper sites. In fact The Guardian was a key early adopter of AMP.

However, it’s controversial because Google allows you to “swipe right” to another provider’s content instead of staying on your website. And some content providers, including major newspapers, have said that ad revenues from AMPs are lower than than from self-hosted web pages.

SignpostShould I use AMP now?

As a small business, you should consider these factors to decide whether to adopt AMP:

If you:

  • Regularly publish new content such as news or blog articles
  • Have a lot of readers/users
  • Of whom a large proportion are on mobile devices

Then definitely consider using AMP.

If you:

  • Have mainly static/unchanging content
  • Have only a few readers/users
  • Or your users are mainly on desktops

Then AMP need not be your top priority.


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