Investing in Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): Q & A
If you’ve heard about Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and are considering implementing it on your site, here are a few questions to ask yourself before making the leap.
How does AMP perform vs. mobile sites in Google?
So Google – for now – isn’t giving AMP a direct rankings boost. You rank in the same spot, you’re just swapping your regular page for an AMP page. However, while there isn’t a direct boost, if you had a slow mobile site, swapping it for a fast one could lead to higher rankings.
There’s also a “back” button to more google results. It means if you don’t have what the user wants, they’re leaving. That was always true, but it may be more important now.
On the plus side, it’s possible the AMP icon gets a higher click-through rate, as Gizmodo claims (25% increase). Take a look at what brands/publishers are reporting so far to get an idea of the potential results from AMP.
There are also separate AMP carousels, more on that below, which don’t have a comparison to a natural listing alone but likely have a click-through rate boost.
Should retail and travel sites consider AMP?
If you read our AMP for non-publishers from a year ago, a lot has changed since then. There is a roadmap to allow AMP to handle non-publisher pages, they’re very active on it already. If you go through the whole roadmap, there’s actually not much missing for a fully functioning page of about any type. That’s big news for brands, who could be thinking about AMP today.
The other big news is the recent appearance of AMP results in the travel space. The listing below is showing an AMP carousel for a standard natural listing. In fact, the city page here is a standard HTML page, but the thumbnails are all AMP listings. The category pages is available in AMP format as well, but interestingly Google is choosing not to use it.
Whether this will be rolled out to more query types will be an important consideration, but the opportunity for this carousel alone is huge.
What does it cost to invest?
It depends greatly on your platform.
Are you on WordPress? We’ve seen good luck quickly installing AMP on these sites, which really makes it a no-brainer to get into the Google highly visible “Top Stories” section, which seems to favor AMP listings when available.
Other CMS and ecommerce platforms are going to take a good deal of customization to get up to speed. Look into the development costs for this, and check with the vendor for any plug-in solutions they are developing. Take a look at the eBay blog for tips on how they implemented AMP on category pages.
Another thing you should consider investing in to be ready for AMP, Facebook Instant Artices, and whatever the future holds is to de-couple your content from your HTML markup. You need to have a database that can easily shoot out your content in any form.
Is there a chance AMP disappears?
Yes – but probably no time soon. One consideration here is that whether or not to include AMP results is a Google dependent decision. Google could at anytime decide “this isn’t working for us” and ditch the AMP results. Publishers could also decide “this isn’t working for us” (as this early report suggest) and hold off or turn off AMP pages.
However, for now, this announcement sees to be a tip of the hat that AMP results are performing well for Google and they want to keep going down this road. Additionally, Google surely is going to play around with different formats besides just organic links in finding a way to make this work.
Should I skip mobile and just have an AMP and a desktop site?
Adding another site to maintain is a familiar phase for many brands. AMP is just that – a totally additional site layer to be maintained in the future.
You could serve AMP pages outside of Google listings if you wanted – go ahead and load up a page like this one and you’ll see it works on its own. However, AMP does rely on Google being friendly with this usage as Google’s servers are a major part of AMP.
However, you still need to make your regular site responsive, or at least have a separate mobile site. Responsive sites are the way to go 99% of the time, fit any device, and are fully controlled by your roadmap and rules – not AMP’s roadmap and rules. Additionally, having both AMP and responsive sites mean only 2 codebases to maintain, not 3.
Or…Should I skip AMP and just make my faster mobile site?
Making your mobile site faster is very important regardless of circumstance. And maybe you can do this instead of AMP if you can get it really screaming fast.
This study by Tuts+ shows that AMP pages perform roughly as well as a page designed in standard pages that utilizes all of the best practices for quick loading sites.
Conforming to all the best practices around loading quickly means 2 things:
Extra time and money for “invisible” items:
Reducing mobile file sizes, especially with images
Enabling caching on a content delivery network (CDN)
Tough decisions around UX and marketing:
Do you need all of the tracking and 3rd party scripts in place, especially anything that loads early?
Do you need all of these images, especially if you have ads on your site?
Do you need all of the content and functionality in place?
If you can do those things, and they usually pay off, then you can consider skipping AMP pages. However, if Google continues rolling out carousels like the hotels block, the only way to get those is through AMP.
What about my app?
Do you already have an app connected with deep linking? Google has announced that they will now replace app listings with AMP results.
This is a pretty significant issue that Google should address. It would be better for site owners if they could set their preference. However, one possible solution for brands that have both in place is to add app deeplinks within their AMP pages for anyone who lands on those pages and has the app installed.
What about link building? It looks like “google.com” is the URL for these results?
This is a very valid point, Google is going to be getting some of the links to your pages (although these pages would then link to your site). The AMP project however does have fixing the “share” button to use the content owner’s site, not Google, as the share URL.
Between AMP and Facebook Instant Articles, where do I begin?
Marketers should ask for AMP and Facebook Instant articles both. Platforms are going to have to be built with not just those in mind, but an understanding that requests for special sites like AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, product feeds, mobile apps, are the new norm.
The more you can decouple your site from your content, the better. If you’re looking for a platform, ask how easily it can handle different requests like this.
Though the future isn’t known, AMP already has a large presence in Google. If the cost to implement is low, it’s an easy call. For bigger costs, test these things out as much as possible before making a huge commitment.
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If you don’t have a responsive site, you still need to move forward with that. And you still need to make that site faster on mobile as well – AMP may prove marketers have undervalued speed overall.
Posted by John Greer
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