Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and SEO

By Prateek Maitra

You may have heard about accelerated mobile pages — AMP for short — recently and wondered if it was right for your website. AMP pages are definitely not for everyone, so today we’ll help answer your questions and describe who makes (or doesn’t make) a good candidate for AMP. Before we get into the details let’s start from the beginning of the AMP story.

The AMP Origin Story

In 2015, Google announced that more searches were performed on mobile devices than on desktop devices. At the time, mobile processors were not nearly as advanced as they are today in terms of page load times. This posed a major problem both for publishers and for consumers of content on mobile devices. As a result, publishers began to see that the majority of users abandoned the site after 3 seconds of load time.

Enter Google. By partnering with a number of news outlets, Google spearheaded the announcement of the new accelerated mobile pages framework. This technical development allowed publishers to precache content on edge servers. This allows static content to be served magnitudes faster to the end-user on mobile devices.

In mid-2016, The Washington Post partnered with the AMP project to compile a case study highlighting the benefits of AMP. After publishing more than 100+ AMP page variants daily, The Washington Post saw a 23% increase in returning mobile users, with an 88% reduction in load times of AMP pages over traditional. Since then, many enterprise-level brands have made the switch, or at least opened up sections of their site to AMP. A live test of anonymized data showed an average page load time of 2.68 seconds on mobile organic AMP pages versus 8.82 seconds for traditional mobile organic.

Some readers have likely made the connection from the benefits of AMP to SEO. For those who haven’t, we know that Google, and other search engines, continue to stress the importance of mobile UX. This has manifested itself in the mobile-first index, or more importantly, in the mobile page-speed update in July 2018.

Implementing AMP

With the basics out of the way, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of implementing AMP.

Pros of AMP

  • Immensely quick load time
  • Ease of deployment
    • True if using WordPress
  • Ease of tracking performance
    • Google Analytics separates between AMP and regular pages
  • Engaged users
    • Lower load times means users can consume content quicker, building trust in the brand as a quality content producer

Cons of AMP

  • 100% replicability of themes/templates almost never possible
    • Some formatting will not render on the AMP page, which may or may not be relevant to you from a branding perspective
  • Difficult to deploy without WordPress
  • No JavaScript or customized CSS
  • No automatic 301 redirection of mobile users to /amp/ pages
    • You could, in theory, write a rule within your htaccess file to detect useragent and then redirect based on said user-agent to the /amp/ variation of the page

Despite these cons, if you are on WordPress and are producing content fairly consistently, then you should strongly consider deploying AMP content via a quick plugin. Even if you are not on WordPress, consideration is suggested, given the upside.

If you have any questions about AMP or mobile-page optimization, reach out to us today.