Back in February 2016, I wrote about Google’s new project, called Accelerated Mobile Pages, and how you can install a WordPress Plugin called the Google AMP plugin. The whole idea is to provide a new web format so that mobile users can view content that loads really quickly, even with a slow internet (mobile) connection. Initially targeted towards news publishers like Practical Ecommerce, we’re seeing a lot more public adoption of this new web standard. Google AMP is not just for news publishers anymore.
Since Google’s initial rollout and emphasis on creating Google AMP pages, we’ve seen more and more websites start to adopt the format and provide it for their visitors. Not only is there now an official WordPress Plugin that will convert your current WordPress content into the new AMP format, the format is available to those not using WordPress. For example, for ecommerce merchants using Shopify, there is a plugin called RocketAMP.
With the WordPress plugin, it (mostly) is a plug-and-play type of plugin. Install the plugin, activate it, and navigate to the new AMP page on your site (usually something like https://www.yourdomain.com/blogpost-article/amp/. Append /amp/ onto any blog post or page on your site and it will show up in the new AMP format. There are a few issues with the plugin, as you may want to make some “tweaks” to the code, as the default format may introduce some errors in the code that should be fixed. Also, you may want to also install the Google Analytics code on your AMP pages to track the visitors that come to your site using AMP.
At the recent Pubcon conference held October 10-13, 2016 in Las Vegas, Google AMP was one of the hottest topics being discussed. While website owners and webmasters are generally enthusiastic about installing and making AMP pages available, there have been some issues with the format, amongst other minor complaints. Any new web format is not going to come without controversy, but one of the main complaints is that Google controls the amount of traffic that is sent to a site’s AMP pages. Google decides when to show a site’s AMP pages in the search results, and when they will show the mobile version of a site, for example.
Question to Ask Before Implementing AMP
It depends on what type of site and what type of visitors that you currently have. There are several questions and points that you should consider.
— Look at your site’s Google Analytics to see what percentage of users to your site are using mobile devices. If the percentage is low (under 10 percent), then you might consider not implementing AMP. If, however, a larger percentage of visitors is visiting your site, you might consider implementing AMP.
— If you have a blog or website with static web pages, then you should consider installing AMP. The AMP pages will load really quickly, and Google will be encouraged to send you more traffic to your site.
— What’s your cost of implementation? Do you have the internal resources to install the WordPress plugin, for example, and make adjustments to the code in case you need to? Do you have a custom CMS (Content Management System) that would require custom programming to add AMP pages on your site?
— Are you an ecommerce retailer (or sell products on your site)? Using Shopify? There is a Shopify add-on that you can purchase to implement AMP.
— Are your pages slow to load? Would it take moving to a new theme or a new web design in order to speed up the loading of pages on your site? That might take some additional investment that you might not want to spend right now, especially right before the holiday season. However, adding AMP would actually be an option, as it won’t change the current site, it would only add pages to it.
Those are just a few of the considerations. Other issues, such as whether or not your competitors have installed AMP pages on their site(s) is something you should look into, as well. Perform a search using your mobile phone on Google using a keyword phrase that brings up your site and your competitor’s website(s) in the search results. If their sites are marked as AMP pages, and your pages are not, then you might consider adding AMP pages.
Google AMP and SEO
When it comes to SEO, there’s really not a lot of extra optimization that needs (or should be) done for Google AMP pages. In fact, the content on a Google AMP page should be exactly the same as the page on your website. The title tag, headings, and overall copy will be the same. Navigation is typically stripped out, so you may want to add links to other pages on your website at the end of the content. That way someone reading the content can navigate to another page on your website without having to type the URL into their browser (which can be more difficult on a mobile device). Adding AMP pages should help your site’s optimization overall, since it’s speeding up the loading of the pages, which ultimately is a search engine ranking factor.
Google Accused of Stealing Mobile Traffic
Just today, Google has been accused of stealing (maybe) mobile traffic from websites. Turns out that when someone uses a mobile phone and sees the AMP page on someone’s site, they click on it—and it loads. But, the page actually loads on a Google.com URL, where the AMP page has been cached. So, rather than sending someone to the blog URL where the AMP page exists, the user still stays on Google.com. They never go to the blog at all.
A blogger recently wrote an interesting post about how Google is essentially stealing mobile traffic from innocent sites who implement AMP on their site. By providing a way for users to close the article they’re reading, they don’t get to stay on the blogger’s site. In this way, Google could be accused of stealing mobile traffic from websites—after all, those users never made it past Google.com.
Overall, when Google AMP was announced, many were skeptical about this new web format, and it was pushed for news websites only. However, in the preceding 8 months since it’s launch, we’ve seen a considerable amount of adoption of AMP, which makes me believe that it’s here to stay. My prediction is that it is becoming a web standard, and most websites will have it available soon. Whether or not you’re willing to take the plunge now depends on a lot of factors—such as cost and time to implement. Add in the way Google is implementing AMP on Google.com, caching AMP content in such a way that the user never gets to the website where that AMP content exists, I can see why you might want to wait to implement AMP.