In search engine optimization (SEO), there’s a fairly even split between the subjective value of your site (including its trustworthiness and quality), and its objective performance (which usually boils down to technical factors). Some tactics, like accelerated mobile pages (AMPs), straddle that line.
Google AMPs, announced in October 2015, have become such an established mainstay that you probably see them in your search results without even thinking about their presence. Generally, you’ll see a small carousel of AMP options, complete with a preview image and a small, green lightning bolt to indicate its speed, when you search for specific types of topics.
But what, exactly, are the advantages to offering AMPs? And do you really need to be using them?
AMPs in a Nutshell
In case you aren’t familiar, accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) are a set of protocols you can use to restructure your site, and make it easier to be loaded and viewed on a mobile device. At first glance, you might confuse this with simply making your site “optimized for mobile devices,” but AMPs are a distinct concept.
Mobile-optimized pages are loadable and viewable in mobile devices, but AMPs are designed to load much faster, providing users with instantly available content. It’s similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles, but in the body of search results.
Let’s look at the advantages AMPs can offer you, both in the context of SEO and beyond it:
· Speed. AMPs load about twice as fast as a comparable mobile page, and have only one-tenth the latency. That’s an enormous speed advantage over traditional web pages. That increased speed will give you a couple distinct benefits: customers will be able to access your content faster, and your visitors will be more likely to go through a purchase or checkout process since they know it will go quickly and smoothly.
· Visibility. Next, AMPs give your site a boost in visibility. Currently, having a page with AMP protocols doesn’t increase your domain authority or page authority, but it does make that page eligible for the AMP carousel that rests above typical search results. Though not available for every query, this can give your page a substantial boost in organic search results, and send far more traffic your way.
· Dwell time. There’s some evidence to suggest that AMPs have a higher dwell time than their traditional counterparts. This could be due to a number of reasons; for example, it could be that the faster loading speed encourages visitors to stick around longer and view more content, or it could be that because they’re higher-ranked results, they naturally attract more dedicated traffic. Either way, using AMP could increase the amount of time your visitors spend on your site.
· Engagement. AMPs also give you more opportunities to engage with your visitors. Visitors on an AMP are more likely to interact with any features you offer, including forms, buttons, links, videos, and even online shopping because your site will look sleeker and offer more functionality.
· Competition. Don’t forget that there’s a competitive element at play here as well. If all your competitors are using AMPs consistently, and you aren’t, you might stand out as lagging behind them. Conversely, if you adopt AMP protocols before your competition, you could look like a frontrunner and differentiate yourself in a positive light.
Overall, AMPs are an effective way to increase your search visibility, give your visitors a better impression of your brand, and possibly secure more conversions from the traffic you receive as well.
So are there any disadvantages to implementing the AMP protocols?
· It’s difficult to implement. Google offers in-depth resources and tutorials designed to help you implement AMP protocols effectively, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to follow. If you don’t have much experience in the web development world, you’ll probably need to hire a professional to assist you. That means you’ll either spend several extra hours to see these benefits, or you’ll end up paying someone to make it work.
· Analytics are unsatisfying. Google usually brings its A-game to analytics, but the analytics available for AMPs leave something to be desired. You’ll be able to track basic metrics like visitors and engagement, but there aren’t many opportunities to optimize your user experience.
The biggest factor here is the difficulty in implementation. It’s not as simple as installing a single line of code, but isn’t excessively challenging for an experienced professional.
It’s likely that mobile traffic will keep growing, with 80 percent of all web traffic coming from mobile devices as of 2020. Accordingly, demand for fast-loading mobile pages is going to keep increasing, and more publishers are going to compete to offer the best possible experience for their users.
I’ve written before about how AMPs could become a new standard for web content and SEO, and I still believe it’s possible. However, for the moment, it’s not a functional necessity to transform your content into AMPs. The only exception is if you’re a publisher with a sizable audience already, and you need to remain competitive on a national scale.
Unless you fall into a category where AMPs are the norm, sit back and keep watch to see how this technical structure develops — and jump in when you feel the time is right.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!