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What is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)?

What is AMP and Why Should I Care?

If you’ve heard the term “AMP” lately, you may wonder what the heck is it and why should I care?

AMP stands for “Accelerated Mobile Pages,” and they could just change the entire website experience for you and your website’s visitors.

Whew! That’s a pretty tall order. So, what’s all the fuss about?

Here’s a simple primer to get you up to speed on AMP and how you can use it to deliver results for your site and your business.

AMP basics

AMP is basically a stripped-down form of HTML aimed to help mobile pages load faster to improve the user experience. According to Moz, AMP is a love child born out of a project between Google and Twitter, who wanted to deliver a faster mobile experience.

We talk a lot at AddThis about page speed, and how important it is for users to have a quick and easy experience when visiting your website. Not only is it factored into SEO rankings, but visitors may not wait around, opting to head to a competitor’s website instead!

Don’t take our word for it, though. Kissmetrics did an extensive analysis on how load times affect visitor behavior, noting that just a one-second delay in load times can drop conversion by up to 7 percent.

AMP’s origins

Search Engine Journal reports that on February 24, 2016, Google officially integrated AMP listings into its mobile search results. At that point, pages started making AMP coding appear within special places in the search results and/or with a special “AMP” designation.

You may have seen AMP at the top of Google search results on your mobile phone. Here is an example of what it looks like:

amp-example-in-google

According to Digiday, after Google launched the open-source AMP with news publishers, they extended it to all publishers.

Digiday also reports those AMP pages now power other parts of Google’s ecosystem, including its mobile news app Newsstand and content suggestions in Google Chrome, plus sites such as  Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Flipboard.

Why the focus on mobile?

Approximately a third of internet users only access the web from a smartphone. However, web pages are still primarily built to serve desktop first and are only optimized for mobile after the fact.

This process means that mobile experiences are the same as their clunkier, cumbersome desktop counterparts, which leads to longer load times and user abandonment. In fact, according to eConsultancy, 40 percent of people will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

AMP was developed with this inefficiency in mind. It allows publishers to repurpose content to suit the device that it’s being served on. Think of it as having two versions of your content: one version for desktop, and one for mobile. Each version delivers the most efficient experience for users based on the device they’re using.

How AMP works: CSS limitations, JavaScript restrictions, image and video caching

As mentioned, AMP is a basic form of an HTML website. The pages are lightweight, with limited features that allow them to load faster.

For this to occur, there are limitations in the code that can be used:

  • Certain HTML tags are off-limits
  • Only a streamlined version of CSS can be used
  • Unless using the pre-approved JavaScript library, it’s out of the question

Despite its stripped-down functionality, things like images and videos can still be published on AMP pages by caching them to Google. So instead of embedding images and videos in the website, which significantly increases page loading times, the AMP caches allow users to serve these additional items via Google. The image or video content will still appear on your page, but the source links back to Google’s copy of it, allowing your page to load faster.

Tips for using AMP effectively

For those of you ready to get started, the AMP Project has a thorough step-by-step guide for building and publishing AMP pages, complete with HTML code. In addition, here are some key points to consider before embarking on your AMP journey.

1. Research and plan

Creating AMP pages takes time, and it can get complicated. For this reason, it pays to be strategic. Start with the pages that are driving the most traffic, and then compile a list of your most visited pages and the ones that are driving the most mobile traffic. Map these out and prioritize your work accordingly.

2. Validate before launch

When building your AMPs, either from scratch or via a plugin, make sure they’re validated and that the HTML tags are correct so the page works as it should. To do so, use the developer tools in Chrome to see if there are any problems with the page. You can also consult the AMP Project site to help with this.

3. Document the process for building an AMP

Once you’ve gone through the process once, make sure you document it so it’s easier and more streamlined moving forward. The great thing is that plugins already exist for most content management systems to simplify the process.

Using AMP to drive traffic and increase exposure

Google’s search results source content that is high quality, relevant, and hosted on sites that deliver a streamlined user experience. In this respect, AMP content is viewed favorably by Google’s mobile algorithm because it delivers content in a mobile-optimized format, delivering a superior user experience. 

An example of an AMP carousel. Here is how the accelerated pages appear above standard pages (photo via Search Engine Land).

AMP-rich-card-carousel-Final-Trimmed

Whether you host a local area news site, a small business, or a major publisher, AMP offers you a viable way to drive traffic to your site through mobile-first content, and it’s something every website owner should consider. 

AddThis and AMP

Learn more about creating your AMP page or installing the AddThis Inline or Floating Share Buttons to make your content shareable!

 

What is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)?
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Last modified:  December 6th, 2018