Google AMP: How to Display Mobile Content 6 Times Faster

google-amp-cover

Google Accelerated Mobile Pages or Google AMP was launched in February and since then, its usage has skyrocketed. AMP support is now available for the entire search results pages, making the entire search experience for mobiles faster.

Nowadays, our usual computer activities are done on a handheld device. Google AMP is here to make the experience faster and better, marking a new era for mobile content.

What is Google AMP?

Google AMP is an open-source initiative to help improve browsing the web on a mobile phone. AMP is Google’s answer to Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple’s News. AMP’s launch was announced on February 24 but reports show that Google AMP was already operational a day before.

As we move towards apps on smartphones, it is logical to make mobile browsing faster. To be more technical, Google AMP makes the rendering of web pages on mobile web browsers faster.

AMP load faster by making technical modifications. This is possible with allowing only asynchronous Javascript (but not author-written ones); by resizing resources such as images, frames, and ads; by not letting the extensions block the rendering; and much more. For more detailed information how AMP works, check out this video from Paul Bakaus:

Fast Facts on Google AMP

Here are five things you should know about the Accelerated Mobile Pages.

1. Google AMP offers remarkable rendering speed

Rendering with Google AMP is significantly faster, making pages load almost instantly. Even Bing admits that AMP loads faster and has even rolled out support for it. In fact, Google promises that pages on Google AMP load 85% faster than regular web pages.

2. Changing to AMP is not as hard as you think

Getting your website AMP’ed is quite easy. You will need to have to versions of your web pages: one for standard viewing and one for AMP. WordPress sites just need to download the custom AMP plugin.

custom-amp-plugin-wordpress

3. There are new formats on AMP aside from news content

The first target of Google AMP is publishers. The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, and the Washington post are among the first to transition to AMP. But, AMP will be able to support more and more formats aside from news such as apps, e-commerce sites, and even recipes.

google-amp-publishers

4. AMP increases visibility

Although Google said that AMP is not a ranking factor yet, AMP can help increase visibility. When you search for news terms, a preview of news with AMP is shown first via Carousel. Sometimes, non-carousel search results come up, but you can easily distinguish these results because of the AMP and the tiny thunderbolt near the site’s description.

Moreover, user experience affects visibility. Given that Google AMP improves rendering, and ultimately, user experience, AMP can increase your site’s visibility.

Google AMP is not a ranking factor YET, but it may soon enough, especially when support for all types of web content will be supported already.

5.  AMP has some restrictions related to ads and images

AMP is in its early stages and one of the factors that make it faster is using only asynchronous JavaScript. Ads use different JavaScript providers and not all are supported by AMP yet. Here are some of the HTML restrictions of AMP:

amp-html-restrictions

Certain restrictions also apply to other resources, and this is where the speedy rendering is based. But, as Google AMP matures, it is sure that looks would also be given consideration.

Need Proof?

All the benefits listed above are nothing but promises until concrete examples can be provided. The following are some actual tests on Google AMP and how it has helped speed up loading for an improved mobile surfing experience.

Exhibit A: Washington Post

Google initiated a case study on the Washington Post after transitioning to Google AMP. Users abandon websites that don’t load content within three seconds; meaning it is important to improve the load time.

washington-post-amp-case-study

Furthermore, transitioning to AMP is important for the Washington Post. 55% of its traffic comes from mobile devices. Providing for a better mobile experience for visitors coming from mobile will affect how it will survive in the long run.

With more than 1,000 articles from the Washington Post already published in AMP, the following results were recorded:

  • Average load time is only 400 milliseconds. This is 88% better than that of traditional mobile websites.
  • 63% of mobile search users return to the Washington Post within seven days as compared to the 51% back at traditional websites.

However, the Washington post case study has been also received some criticism. Search Engine Roundtable published their own interpretation of the AMP data. And among other things they found that only 3.16% of the traffic to Washington post was via AMP.  But surely further developments are expected to bring about even better results.

Exhibit B: Seer Interactive

Seer Interactive has conducted a test on 760 articles from 166 websites, with at least one AMP ranking for the queries that Seer has searched for. The queries are categorized into the following:

  • Business
  • Digital
  • Entertainment
  • Geographic
  • Politics
  • Sports
  • TV
  • And random

The results were that the bigger publications ranked more frequently in AMP. The top five publishers (SB Nation, Yahoo, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Breitbart) ranked in the queries 22% of the time. The top 20 publishers account for 51% of the AMP rankings.

seer-interactive-publishers-graph

Imagine just how much ranking is concentrated on 20 out of the 166 publishers. This result is expected given that the big publishers already have a lot of followers even before AMP came in.

Although it might seem that Google AMP is only benefitting the big players, it was also found out that finding a niche will help even smaller publishers rank on AMP. Seer was able to show the following examples:

  1. The Truth About Guns had 3 out of 10 articles ranking on AMP with “guns” as the query.
  1. SB Nation does not go as far back as Yahoo and Sports Illustrated but it owned 40% of sports queries.
  1. Two articles from Search Engine land were ranking with using “SEO” as the query. The two articles “How to make SEO a company-wide habit” and “Beyond Authority: Guiding Metrics for Lasting Links” are not timely articles and yet they rank.

seer-interactive-seo-example

What these three examples are saying is that by establishing authority on a specific genre, these smaller players are beating bigger competitors. Most of the time, the big publishers will dominate the rankings, but by being credible sources for specific topics, smaller contenders can outrank them.

Seer also found out that local news publishers have advantages when it comes to local matters. Local San Francisco publications were included with using “San Francisco” as the search term. AMP ranking is not solely on how big a publisher is but how much credibility a certain publisher have on a specific topic.

However, Seer also figured out one of the imperfections of Google AMP. When searching “machine learning”, search results included an irrelevant article, “Three Ways to Become a Learning Machine”. This shows how Google is still reliant on keyword placing even on AMP. Publishers should consider keyword placement as a part of their SEO strategy.

Exhibit C: VentureBeat

VentureBeat has reported the results of case studies on how Google AMP has affected websites that has transitioned from traditional to AMP. The following are the findings:

  • New visitors constitute 90% of Daily Dot’s AMP traffic.
  • New visitors also constitute over 80 percent of Gizmodo’s AMP traffic. Impressions on an AMP page is 50% higher than that of a non-AMP page.
  • People who access the AMP page of Miami Herald spend 10 percent more time than those who access the regular pages.
  • There is a 44% increase in Slate’s monthly unique visitors from Google searches. There is also a 73% increase on visits per monthly unique user
  • Click-through rates or CTRs on ads on the AMP pages of Wired are 63 percent higher than on non-AMP pages. Also, CTRs from search results are 25 percent higher

wired-case-study-google-amp

It is undeniable that Google AMP has some benefits for those who transition to it. But of course, being on AMP alone won’t do the trick. Improvement on loading time is one thing, but content quality is even more important.

The New Era of Mobile Content

Google puts user experience on top of its priorities and AMP is a great way to do this. Google AMP will change the way mobile web browsing works today.

We are in a fast-paced world where being slow will leave you behind. Speed is essential and projects that make work faster and easier will be of help. Let us enter a new era of mobile content through Google AMP!

BIO: Kenneth Sytian is the expert in Philippine web design. He has been designing websites and developing web apps for more than a decade. His no-nonsense approach to design coupled with his vast creativity is a winning combination for his clients.


Photo Credit: Visual Hunt

Turn content into leads & sales!

Sign up and get the latest information




 
Sign up for free updates!