Accelerated Mobile Pages FAQ
An essential, not-too-technical AMP primer.
(Note: If you’re looking for the technical nitty-gritty, try John Pettitt’s piece, AMP Conversion: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.)
1) What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are web pages which are coded in AMP HTML, a version of HTML with special features and restrictions to ensure super-fast page load and efficient performance — two key factors in mobile engagement. AMPs often load in under 800 milliseconds. Compare that to a staggering 19 seconds and 2.5MB for a typical mobile web page! Learn more about the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages Project at ampproject.org.
2) Why is AMP important?
Two reasons: 1) It provides a fast, clean user experience to improve engagement with mobile web pages, and 2) Google is rolling out prominent new display modules in search results that will only use AMP content. (Other search engines and platforms are starting to promote AMP-formatted content as well.)
3) How is AMP similar to/different from Facebook Instant Articles?
AMP and Facebook Instant Articles (FBIA) are standard formats for fast-loading content. Both reflect the premise that a fast, clean user experience will improve engagement and monetization. Unlike Instant Articles which are delivered to Facebook as a feed and only work in Facebook’s proprietary environment, AMPs are accessed on the open web like any other web page. AMP is also more flexible and less prescriptive than Instant Articles; Publishers can build rich content and advertising experiences with AMP.
4) How is AMP similar to/different from responsive web pages?
Many publishers incorrectly assume their responsive websites are “mobile optimized.” Responsive design refers to the way a site looks on various screen sizes, but actually says nothing about speed and performance. Responsive sites can be light and fast-loading — or they can be slow, heavy and resource-taxing. AMP, on the other hand, has rigorously-enforced rules to ensure speed and performance.
5) Would AMP replace my existing mobile or responsive web pages?
Not in the near term. An AMP is a separate version of a web article, linked to the original article through reciprocal HTML tags in the source code of each article. The two versions coexist, and Google (or other referrers) can decide whether to send users to the AMP version or the original version. Theoretically a publisher could produce only AMP versions of content but that’s not a common practice today.
6) If I start publishing AMP, will all of my mobile traffic be diverted to AMP?
No. Links from Google will go to AMP versions, but users who come through your home page, Facebook, Twitter or most other sources will get the standard, non-AMP version. Over time more search engines, social platforms and apps may decide to link to AMP content because it’s a more reliable user experience — for example, Bing recently started linking to AMP from its search app, and social news app Nuzzel also links to AMP.
7) Could I direct more traffic to AMP if I wish?
Yes. If you determine your AMP content performs better than your standard mobile experience, you should be able to redirect incoming users to the AMP version.
8) How much traffic will my AMP content get?
Look at the amount of traffic you currently get from Google to mobile articles; your initial AMP traffic will probably be around that level. You could see incremental lift (new audience) if your AMP content performs better in Google’s environments than your standard pages — for example, if you’re one of the first publishers in your competitive set to be AMP-enabled.
9) Will AMP improve my Google search performance?
Google has introduced special experiences, such as the “Top Stories” carousel in mobile search results, which only display AMP content. These experiences dominate the first mobile viewport, pushing down other results. In those situations, AMP content is clearly advantaged while non-AMP content is effectively demoted.
Google has stated that it will not explicitly favor AMP results in standard search results — but will favor mobile-optimized sites in general, penalizing slow sites with poor mobile experience.
10) Do I need to implement a special AMP SEO strategy for Google search?
Not at this time. Currently, Google SEO is driven by your primary responsive or mobile website. If your primary site is optimized for Google search, then Google will find your AMPs.
11) How does Google find my AMPs?
Google’s crawlers check the source code of your pages for the “amphtml” tag which specifies the URL of the AMP. If Google finds a valid AMP at the specified URL, then Google caches the AMP on its own CDN and delivers it in search results.
12) What is Google AMP validation?
Google wants to verify that any AMPs it presents in search are compliant with the format’s specifications and performance standards. AMPs that fail Google’s validation filter will not appear in search results. It’s essentially a quality control measure.
13) Can I host my AMPs on my own domain?
The AMP standard requires secure HTTPS hosting of all elements including content and ads. If you can support HTTPS hosting, then yes you can host your own AMPs. However, Google caches AMPs and serves them from its own CDN in search results — so most of your AMPs will be served by Google’s CDN anyway. Relay Media provides HTTPS proxy hosting to publishers on our platform.
14) Is AMP only for news articles?
No. AMP can be used for almost any kind of content: Directory listings, recipes, movie reviews, e-commerce, etc. Recently eBay started using AMP for product pages. So far, most news publishers have focused on article pages — but as more capabilities are added to AMP, publishers could create AMP versions of their home pages, section fronts and other pages.
15) Do publishers convert all articles to AMP — or just certain articles?
Most publishers convert all articles to AMP. In a proper implementation this should be an automated process, where the AMP version is generated when the standard article is published. It should not require any effort on the part of content/editorial staff.
16) Do AMPs update when the original page updates?
We view this as a critical requirement, but it is a function of implementation. Relay Media’s platform refreshes AMPs continuously to reflect the original page, as frequently as every 60 seconds for breaking news.
17) Does an AMP have to be an exact replica of the original page?
No. AMP can be an opportunity to test different layouts and ad placements, for example. AMPs can mirror the original page, or provide a great sandbox for experimentation.
18) Does AMP only work on mobile devices?
No. AMPs are designed for the mobile experience, but you can view them in a desktop browser. Some AMPs render beautifully on desktop browsers while others might look odd. This is a function of how the AMP was designed.
19) Does AMP restrict content and design?
20) What happens when a user clicks a link or navigation element in an AMP?
Usually, navigation menus and other site navigation in AMPs seamlessly pass the user to the standard mobile website. In this way, AMP acts as a funnel to your standard site. Links in AMPs to other articles on your site can be configured to link to the standard version or the AMP version of the articles. By default, Relay Media delivers the AMP version of the linked content (when an AMP version is available) in order to continue the AMP experience as users navigate from page to page.
21) What happens when a user shares an AMP to social media?
If someone uses their phone’s native social sharing features or the social share buttons on your AMP, the standard web link will be shared to social media — unless you’ve intentionally configured your social share buttons to share the AMP link. In the rare case where the user copies the AMP URL from their mobile browser and pastes it into a social post, then the social post will link to the AMP — but even then, desktop users will be redirected to the standard page most of the time.
22) Do analytics work on AMP?
Yes — but it’s complicated. Almost all of the major analytics services are AMP-enabled and collect data as designed. However, a side-effect of Google caching AMP articles on its own CDN is that users and sessions which traverse Google’s domain to the publisher’s domain are counted as two users or sessions, rather than one continuous user / session. That makes apples-to-apples comparisons with standard web traffic difficult. Here’s a more detailed explanation.
23) Do ads work on AMP?
Yes. As of October, more than 75 leading ad tech companies were participating in AMP. Some publishers say they’re earning as much or more revenue from AMP as from standard mobile pages, others are still working toward parity. Much of the disparity has to do with implementation, and AMP’s nascence. The ecosystem — which includes publishers, buyers, ad tech companies and programmatic exchanges — is still learning how to optimize AMP revenue.
24) How do I decide if AMP is important for my site?
Every publisher can benefit from AMP, and at some point AMP could become the primary format for mobile content. In the near term, some publishers will benefit more than others. Publishers who will benefit most include:
- News publishers.
- Publishers that compete topically in search.
- Publishers that get a decent portion of traffic (>10%) from search.
- Publishers with poor mobile experience today.
25) I’m ready to get AMPed! Where do I begin?
If you’re interested in building your own AMP implementation, there are plenty of resources at ampproject.org. If you’d like to use Relay Media’s turnkey AMP conversion platform, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll send you an overview of our service and answer your initial questions immediately.