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To Convert or Not to Convert to AMP?

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Amanda DiSilvestro
Amanda DiSilvestro
To Convert or Not to Convert to AMP?

In October of last year Google announced one of their newest projects, the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, more commonly referred to as AMP. With mobile technology being one of the most common ways people surf the internet, publishers realize a large percentage of their readers are going to be viewing their web pages via a mobile device. In fact, mobile search activity surpassed desktop, according to a Search Engine Land study.

Unfortunately, when pages are not optimized for these mobile devices, people get frustrated and click off the page. As a consequence, publishers not only lose a reader, they also lose the opportunity to market and advertise to potential clients. This is where AMP comes into play.

A Quick Overview of Google AMP

Google has responded to this negative possibility by developing Accelerated Mobile Pages. The goal is to improve the experience online users have with mobile pages, and put special attention on graphics, videos, animations, and smart ads into consideration, as this content is often what prevents optimum loading on a mobile device. AMP relies on HTML and is a new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies. With this technology, businesses can build “light-weight webpages”.

For a demo on AMP in Google Search click here. If you are wondering how you can search AMP yourself, type in g.co/ampdemo into your browser and then search for newsworthy content. The more familiar you get, the more you will start to see the benefits of AMP for webpages. So this leads to the next big question: Should you be converting your blog posts for AMP, and if so, how?

3 Reasons Why You Should Convert Your Blog Posts for AMP

Faster webpages is never a bad thing, so I’ll spare you the obvious reason. There are several other reasons why converting your blog posts is worth the time and effort:

Google is Leading the Mobile World

Reviews of AMP are really exciting. The speed at which pages load is really impressive, and this no doubt impacts user experience significantly. Earlier this year, we posted an article that included a comparison of Facebook, Apple, and Google. The main difference is that Google allows publishers to distribute content on the open web without going through an app. Consider the following timeline:

May 2015: Facebook revealed Instant Articles

June 2015: Apple unveiled Apple News

October 2015: Google announced Accelerated Mobile Pages

publishing-platforms

As you can see from the image above, more brands are choosing to optimize with Google AMP. Being a part of the Google platform, it makes sense that these brands are optimizing with Google over other apps because they understand there may be benefits for not only a faster load time, but possibly with ranking or other factors.

Based on this critical mass of large content distributors, it is clear to see why converting blog posts should be next on your to-do list.

Technical Aspects to Consider

There are a few technical aspects of AMP to consider. You can visit Smashing Magazine for an article that goes above and beyond with all of the technical details of AMP, but, in general, here are a few bullet points of the most important information:

  • AMP is mostly a restriction on the “slow” parts of web technologies. It primarily involves the elimination of javascript, but also restricts some parts of HTML and CSS.
  • The platform adds custom “<amp> tags” to fill in some of the lost functionality due to the above restrictions for limited, predefined, or performance web components.
  • Ads will still be supported, but in a limited fashion using custom <amp> tags.
  • You either agree to only use AMP technologies on your web page (which involves making some minor changes to your HTML), or create a AMP compliant version of your webpage and link it on your standard web page.

AMP has been created for static pages such as news articles and blogs. In the screenshots below it is easy to see how a search result incorporates optimized AMP pages:

amp

In the two screenshots from my mobile device above, you can see that I searched for newsworthy topics (Bernie Sanders and Caitlyn Jenner) using the AMP demo feature mentioned at the beginning of this post. Not only does it indicate that it is “AMP” optimized, but also features “top stories” within the search results.

AMP and SEO Potential Future Benefits

Although AMP is not a ranking factor yet, there are still many benefits for optimizing before that occurs. As of now the results of AMP articles is contained in the news section (note the screen shots again for a visual example), which means that not optimizing for AMP could mean a loss of clicks, impressions, and user engagement overall. In other words, if you are not appearing in the top section while it may not improve your SEO at this point, it could actually harm it.

According to Anna Crowe’s article, we know that the news carousel will not always be there, meaning that eventually AMP optimized pages are going to be presented in a different way (which may possibly involve ranking). Plus, we know that “mobile friendliness” is a ranking factor, so it makes sense that very soon this is going to be incorporated into overall SEO.

Create a Google AMP Page: Optimizing Your Blog

So sum it up, you should definitely optimize your blog posts with AMP, it’s just a matter of how to make it happen. Here is a link to Google’s step-by-step guide to creating a Google AMP page. Don’t worry, it is much easier than you think. The tutorial will outline how to:

  1. Create Your AMP HTML Page
  2. Include an Image
  3. Modify Presentation and Layout
  4. Preview and Validate
  5. Prepare Your Page for Discovery and Distribution
  6. Final Steps Before Publishing

So how do you make it happen? Believe it or not, there is actually a WordPress plugin available to help make sure your website is AMP ready, and it’s really that easy. Simply download and active the AMP plugin and then all of the posts on your site will have dynamically generated AMP compatible versions accessible. You can learn more about how it works when you go to download the plugin, found here.

Recap: Quick Reasons to Optimize Your Blog for AMP

  • Improve mobile user experience on your site.
  • Show up on AMP results, whether in the current news caracole or future updates.
  • Be included in the “mobile friendly” group and get SEO benefits.
  • Benefit from any future updates with Google’s AMP before they decide to officially roll them out. The sooner the better!

The Takeaway

Since Google just rolled out this AMP feature last year, there are still so many updates and benefits on the horizon that are not nearly as clear yet. There is no doubt that with the increase in mobile users, being optimized for mobile ranking in any way you can is going to make your site look better to Google bots, and with how easy it is to optimize and update these pages, you should do it sooner rather than later with AMP.

Have you already optimized your site for AMP? What do you think of AMP as a mobile user? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Image Credits

First Image: Screenshot from Search Engine Journal article “Does Google AMP Affect SEO?

Second Image: Screenshots taken by the author April 12, 2016

Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

In-post Photo: maoyunping/Shutterstock.com

 

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Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility

Amanda DiSilvestro writes digital content that helps businesses grow their website traffice and establish thought leadership. She writes for HigherVisibility, ... [Read full bio]

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