If you have been hearing a lot of buzz about AMP and have been wondering what it is and if you should be AMPing your website, then this guide will give you some valuable insights.

What is the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Update

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are lightweight pages designed to load quickly on mobile devices. AMP-compliant pages use a subset of HTML with a few extensions. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are an open-source initiative to provide web pages that load fast and look good on mobile devices, even over slow networks.

In short, AMP is a leaner version of your content which is displayed to mobile users which has been designed by Google (and Twitter) in order to make mobile pages load very fast as it is a stripped down version of the HTML. It also requires that you streamline your CSS (style sheets), meaning that the front-end look and feel of the mobile pages look far simpler than if you were to render a mobile user a responsive mobile page. In summary, the platform is designed purely for readability and speed. For example, images won’t load until the user has scrolled in to view them.

The AMP format is supported by a wide variety of platforms, including Google Search and Twitter. If a web page listed in Google’s search results has a valid AMP version, search may direct mobile users to the cached AMP version of the page rather than the ordinary mobile version of the website. In order to ensure that your AMP pages are served to users, you need to create web pages according to the AMP specification guidelines provided by Google to ensure that they are discoverable. Once created and validated, we then ensure that they are discoverable to Google.

While the AMP version of your website certainly improves most performance and speed metrics (as demonstrated below), the one negative aspect of AMP is that it does not always render as well (i.e. Look and feel is not as pretty) as a standard mobile responsive design.

AMP is usually only recommended for article, news and blog posts and is usually not applied to your standard pages (e.g. About Us). It is possible to AMP certain Pages on your website and not others (except for Blog posts, as they will automatically be converted to the AMP format once the AMP Plugin is enabled).

If choosing to AMP other website pages (outside of Blog posts), we would recommend that this only be applied to pages that take long to load or are large in size, or where a high percentage of website visitors are mobile users.

Google’s Mobile First Index

Google has made the mobile index its primary index at the end of last year, making mobile speed and mobile optimisation a high priority for all websites. To ensure that users are presented with the best mobile experience, Google released Accelerated Mobile Page.

Because the new index will split desktop and mobile results, searches performed on a mobile device will no longer show results for desktop, and vice versa. Desktop sites without a mobile version may run into trouble once the mobile first index takes full effect. Once it becomes the primary index, Google will begin indexing your website using the mobile Googlebot, whether it’s a mobile version or desktop version. Although Google has said it will continue to index your desktop site, analysts caution that even if you don’t have a mobile site, you might not show up as well in the new index.

It’s likely that AMP will continue to play a major role in providing a fast and user-friendly experience as Google continues to push their mobile narrative.

AMP Implementation on WordPress Sites

Should you wish to proceed with the AMP implementation, we recommend installing the following plugin on your WordPress site: https://wordpress.org/plugins/accelerated-mobile-pages 

Our research has found that this plugin is most suited to implementing AMP on the WordPress websites as most AMP Plugins only support Posts and not Pages, while we believe this one will support both if needed. When installing the Plugin, you will be required to install the recommended AMP plugin to support it. It does requires some configuration before it will validate. Here is a link to the set-up guide documentation: https://ampforwp.com/help/

When implementing AMP on your website it is important to understand that the look and feel of the mobile interface will be very basic and slim with limited visual content.

Test your AMP:

There are two simple ways to run an AMP test:

  1. Go to https://search.google.com/search-console/amp 
  2. Type in the URL of your page in your browser, and at the end add /amp and hit enter – example (www.mydomain.co.za/?amp). If the site is AMP ready, you should see a result like this below:

What does AMP Look Like

Case Study: Impact on AMP for WordPress sites

The below report outlines some key findings on the impact of enabling AMP on some of our client’s key pages or post:

  • We noticed a decrease of over 300% in page size
  • A 26% decrease in page load time.
  • A 141% improvement on requests.
  • An immediate increase of 28% on Google PageSpeed Insights Mobile Score

Installing AMP generates a cut-down version of the website optimised for mobile speed, focussing mainly on content. Elements such as styling and design are dropped. The page size and load time is vastly decreased, making AMP ideal for reading articles on mobile devices. Even with the big drop in size and load time, the Performance grade only increased slightly.

The AMP Plugin automatically AMP’s all your blog posts, however other content pages such as About Us, Contact pages, product pages, etc. aren’t automatically generated and will defaults to the normal mobile responsive version unless otherwise set-up. These pages have to be manually converted to AMP to render the AMP version to your mobile users. Remember, that AMP drops design elements in favour of content and speed and so your usual responsive mobile stacking and design will look completely different and very lean.

We recommend that you only consider implementing AMP on the following pages:

  • News, Articles, Blog Posts etc.
  • Pages that are large and take long to load on Mobile devices, but where there is not a huge reliance on visual design to get the desired action from the user.

Need Assistance?
BlueMagnet is able to assist you in implementing AMP to your website. Should you require assistance with guidance or set-up, don’t hesitate to contact us on info@bluemagnet.co.za.

Author: Gillian Meier, Certified SEO & UX Analyst (CEO of BlueMagnet)