Get Up to Speed with Google AMP: Does Your Business Need It?

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    Imagine, you’ve whipped out your mobile to do some quick research before buying a product, either online or in person, and you’ve clicked on a promising link.

    Wait five seconds…then 10…looking forward to what must be some amazing content that answers your every question (given that it’s taking longer than the benchmark three seconds to load).

    Then bam – a full page pop up ad appears, unrelated to your search, followed by a ‘like me’ request making the requested page so slow to fully load you can’t leave it fast enough, vowing never to return. It’s not an uncommon experience.

    If this describes your mobile business site and users’ experiences when visiting, you’re losing sales, goodwill and probably significant search rank from a lack of effective SEO services.

    If you want to meet your site visitors’ expectations, benefit your business and have a chance at ranking well in Google search, you need to deliver a fast, frictionless mobile experience.

    Unfortunately, like the more than 10,000+ mobile websites in a recent DoubleClick study, it’s likely your site takes on average 19 seconds or more to load. That’s bad news, considering the study found that 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if pages took longer than three seconds.

    Additionally, if you’re showing pop-up ads and interstitials to mobile users coming from Google search traffic, your pages will now be down ranked in Google search results.

    “January 10, 2017 update: Starting today, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high…”

    Google Web Master Blog

    So, given the need for speed, what can you do to improve the performance of your mobile website? Google’s answer is Accelerated Mobile Pages

    What Are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

    Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open source initiative from Google, in collaboration with several publishers and advertisers, to make the mobile web dramatically faster.  The aim is to increase mobile load speeds by more than 15 per cent.

    The project relies on an open framework called AMP HTML, which is a streamlined programming language designed to allow creation of light-weight web pages. The stripped-down, simplified pages load instantly on mobile and are easy to read.

    AMP is intended for static pages (not interactive) such as news articles, however embeddable rich media objects such as videos and advertising are gradually being added to the library of useable web components.

    The AMP HTML aims to resolve the current issue of third party assets such as social media buttons, advertisements, javascript libraries and frameworks which add ‘heavy’ code that may not be necessary, from slowing down page load.

    How Does AMP Work?

    You will need to have two pages, a regular desktop version and an AMP version of your web pages. The AMP version must use the simplified AMP HTML code and include an AMP HTML link from your desktop version for Google to be able to find it.

    If you have a WordPress site, there are several plugins available which can dynamically generate AMP-compatible page versions.

    The valid AMP enabled webpage is then made available in the mobile results above the rest of the search results. You can identify which pages have the AMP format by the lightning symbol found underneath the heading of the article.

    amp screenshot

    AMP is primarily being used by big news and media publishers to serve content quickly, while other enterprise companies are experimenting with the idea with mixed results.

    Does my Business Need Accelerated Mobile Pages?

    The AMP Project is available to anyone who wants to improve their website performance on mobile, but unless you’re a prolific news content publisher looking to speed up load time for subscription and other articles, you probably won’t need AMP in the short term. Therefore, AMP mobile pages is a technical SEO practice mainly focused on larger news or content websites.

    Mid-size site owners experimenting with the technology are generally restricting expenditure of resources to creation of AMP news and blog pages in highly competitive industries.  But for other owners of medium to small websites there’s no need to rush towards AMP.

    Why not start with better optimisation of your existing website for all users (desktop and mobile), before considering AMP.

    Want A Better Mobile Experience? Keep It Simple

    If you want to deliver a better experience to your site users, ensure you have a mobile responsive website that only loads what it needs to. Forget the bells and whistles, simple and functional work best.

    Key optimisation tasks to increase speed include compression of CSS, HTML, JavaScript and image files, reducing redirects, improving server response times and using content distribution networks (CDN).

    You can use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to find out how well your site performs across desktop and mobile and get a free report on what to fix. It’s worth finding out.

    To read more about AMP see:

    ·        Introducing Accelerated Mobile Pages

    ·        The AMP Project

    ·        What you need to know about AMP

    If you would like some help with improving the visibility of your business online or performing better in mobile search, call White Chalk Road to chat with the team about how we can help you.

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