Get Amped… for AMP⚡

AMP Pages

Many of you may have noticed a small  lightning creeping into mobile search results over the past few months. The barely noticeable symbol denotes that an article is using AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is an initiative lead by Google and Twitter to address the issue of slow mobile loading times since, let’s face it, as powerful as smart phones have become everybody still has fluctuations in connection speed and many websites are too data intensive for their own good.

What is AMP?

AMP is essentially a more restrictive, simplified form of HTML whose sole purpose is to load pages really, really fast on mobile devices. Aside from the limited HTML tags allowed by AMP, its CSS is also streamlined, and a predefined AMP Javascript library must be used to ensure that best practices such as lazy loading are implemented.

Ultimately, what results from AMP’s many guidelines (restrictions) are significantly smaller page sizes. This is by design so that Google can easily host a cached version of websites on their own servers. Now, instead of data being requested from your website’s host, it can come straight from Google to make load times even shorter.

What it Means for the SERPS

Initially there was some concern from people in the SEO industry about how AMP would affect the SERPS, but nothing too dramatic has been seen yet. So far AMP pages only show up in mobile search results, particularly for news related content, appearing as a carousel at the top of the page. Once an article has been clicked users can then swipe left or right to move seamlessly backwards or forwards to the next article. AMP also sometimes displaces or appears where you would expect to see PPC ads. It is important to remember that AMP is still relatively new so it may appear differently in the future.

Accelerated Mobile Pages SERPS
How AMP content typically appears in search results

How to Prepare Your Website for AMP

In order to ensure that Google displays your articles in the search results, you can begin following all the AMP guidelines and validating your page using Google Chrome’s DevTools. It’s important to get this right as Google is very strict and unless you  follow the rules to a tee your pages may not get indexed.

For those using a CMS such as WordPress, making AMP versions of your pages is considerably easier. There are currently a few free AMP related plugins, the most prominent of which is the official AMP plugin which creates dynamically generated versions of existing posts that are accessible by appending /amp/ to the end of the post URLs. While the plugin will do the job, it is still in its infancy and is by no means perfect yet. Be aware of compatibility issues with other plugins such as social widgets or those that use iframes.

For more information on AMP check out the official website.