What are Accelerated Mobile Pages, and why do they matter?
In mid 2015, Google announced its own plan to revolutionize mobile news consumption, hot on the heels of Facebook and Apple. Its solution is dubbed Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and has been gaining steady traction since its announcement.
What are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) exactly?
Google’s intent is to develop a way for web publishers to build heavily streamlined pages that are lightweight (in terms of page load speed) and completely mobile friendly. Google acknowledges that many websites currently provide visitors a clunky and somewhat frustrating experience. AMP allows mobile users to load articles quickly, without having to worry as much about the quality of their connection/internet speed. Poor mobile connections are still a major problem for a lot of mobile users, especially in the developing world. The project is open source, which means it’s easier for developers to start contributing and improving the technology. Google supports the project with what it has termed “Google AMP Cache”. Google will fetch AMP HTML pages that it finds and cache them to create a near instantaneous page load. The system uses HTTP 2.0 to maximize efficiency and performs validation to make sure that a page is guaranteed to work without demanding external resources.
Why AMP is a big deal
The shift to mobile has only accelerated, as more and more people are using their mobile devices as their primary web browsing platform. Although today, most websites provide a mobile version, often mobile web visitors still don’t enjoy a fluid mobile browsing experience. Slow loading pages are one of the biggest deterrents for mobile visitors. AMP aims to help solve the problem by delivering pages that are super optimized for mobile visitors. Google says that pages created using AMP load an average of four times faster than non-AMP webpages.
Many websites are watching how the technology will help with their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. Although Google has not explicitly stated that AMP will be a ranking signal for search results, the search engine has eluded to the fact that it might become one in the not-too-distant-future. As AMP starts to see more mainstream adoption, we believe it will certainly become a ranking signal. This would make sense for Google, as the company currently rewards fast loading mobile sites in search results. The search company has historically made search ranking signals of technology it deems important, such as with HTTPS.
Beyond potential SEO benefits, website’s deploying AMP are expected to retain more mobile visitors and experience less abandonment due to visitors clicking off long loading pages. AMP also has the benefit of creating pages that use 10 times less data overall, which is great for those not on unlimited data plans.
How to get started with AMP
Companies looking to implement AMP can work with internal developers or agency partners, to roll out the technology where it makes sense. Google has a great guide on its official project site that can be found here. Additional partners have been supporting the technology with WordPress announcing official support earlier this year. Websites developed with WordPress, can easily add AMP with the official plugin.