Google are always trying to improve the user experience, whether it’s by offering higher-ranking search results for secure websites, making UX an integral part of SEO, or clearly indicating the level of security on a website.
This always has a direct impact on the mobile strategies for businesses, and AMP is the latest Google-backed mobile project that your business should be taking note of.
Why is this a good thing for users?
If you use a mobile device to perform a Google search now, you’ll notice there are some results that appear as a scrollable carousel at the top of the page titled ‘top stories’ (at time of writing). These are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) and they load content significantly faster than standard web pages.
Studies have shown that a seven-second loading time (two seconds longer than ‘optimal performance’) can increase the bounce rate on websites by up to 87%. Not only do AMPs open much faster than standard web pages on mobile devices, but Google also displays AMP results at the very top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), with thumbnail icons et al. In the majority of cases, users will find what they’re looking for much more quickly and with significantly reduced load times.
How can businesses use this?
Developing an excellent UX for customers is an essential part of mobile site strategy, and it won’t go unnoticed by Google’s algorithms, either. However, one of the most intriguing aspects is that they position AMP results at the top of the Google page (for now at least – more on that later). That means that if a business publishes content to their site and then creates an AMP version, they have a chance of appearing at the very top of a mobile SERP. A mobile user isn’t likely to bother scrolling down to alternative web results if they already have the answer to their query at the top of their screen. AMPs have been in effect for 12 months now, so it’s safe to assume users are happily on board with it.
Before you think that sounds too good to be true, it’s worth bearing in mind that, way back in February 2016, Google’s Jeff Jarvis said, “the carousel layout may not always be there, so if that’s your big selling point, don’t get comfortable.” But, while Google has explicitly stated that AMPs will not be favoured in search rankings, the faster load times will lead to lower bounce rate, which will have a positive impact on your SEO. It’ll require some work at your end to set it up, though.
What would it entail?
You’ll need to set some time aside to make an AMP, but it isn’t overly technical. The AMP Project have a step-by-step guide that will make the process much easier. Having some basic HTML understanding is helpful too. If you have all the content ready, however, it shouldn’t take long to make it into an AMP. Essentially, you need to insert some code making sure that the content is recognised as an AMP.
Meanwhile, you can create Google AMPs in WordPress simply by downloading and activating a plugin. Go to the WordPress site to find the plugin. From there it’s just a case of adding and activating the plugin in WordPress. You can get an AMP plugin for Drupal, too, with a guide to installing it available here. With a little bit of work on the formatting, you can have AMP enabled content for your mobile site.
What can and can’t go in an AMP?
It’s not just news or content sites that can take advantage of an AMP, either. E-commerce sites can use them to make shopping quicker and easier on your phone. Ebay have been working with Google since last year to develop what they call a ‘fully-fledged e-commerce experience in AMP’. The goal of the AMP Project is to make AMPs the standard throughout the internet, from embedded video to gifs. The only thing AMPs aren’t ready for just yet are pages for functionality. There have been promises to change this, but the focus at the moment is for static pages, meaning it’s ideal for content but not for pages designed for interactivity. Calculators, food orders, maps and other elements won’t work properly with AMP. You’ll also lose widgets – basically an embedded app such as a Twitter feed or a booking/calendar app like BookingBug – and sidebars, which are like side menus or information separated from the main content of the page. Don’t expect to keep any of your specific stylings for your website, either; it’s Google’s style or no style at the moment.
So, essentially, as long as you don’t mind losing certain functionalities on your page, AMPs could be great for your website. Many of the currently missing features could be implemented soon because Google seems adamant to make AMP the standard. To keep up to date with the goings on in the industry, you can follow our Twitter page for industry and technology updates.
If you have any questions about AMPs for your website we’d be happy to discuss it; why not go to our contact page and get in touch?