Mobile Web: Is It Time to AMP Up Your Website?
Now that your website is mobile-friendly, can you sit back and relax? Maybe, maybe not. The next big thing in mobile web is Accelerated Mobile Pages. Rocks Digital Editor Laurie Shook discusses the implications of AMP with Beth Kahlich, SEO Trainer and Digital Marketing Consultant. Beth is just back from a techy deep dive at the MozCon conference in Seattle, where AMP was the talk of the town.
AMP in a Nutshell
Laurie: What is AMP?
Beth: It is a new protocol that allows websites to load more quickly. Although responsive websites size the content to the mobile device, end users still struggle with mobile usability. This is because mobile users have slower internet connections and smaller screens for viewing content. AMP brings the speed and agility of the desktop to the mobile experience. Technical companies and content companies collaborated on the open framework definition, as explained at AMPProject.org.
Laurie: How much faster is it?
Beth: It varies. But as a proof point, John Parise, Software Engineer at Pinterest, has noted that AMP pages load 4X quicker and use 8X less data.
Laurie: That sounds impressive. Is there a site where I can test and compare AMP with standard pages?
How AMP Works
Laurie: What makes AMP faster?
Beth: It is faster because of several things: Streamlined functionality, better content sequencing, and information caching.
- Streamlined Functionality: Many websites today make excessive “calls” for information that slow things down. With AMP, all CSS must be inline and is limited to certain sizes. In theory, that may result in more uniformity amongst websites.
- Sequencing: Updated sites keep all 3rd party java scripts out of the critical path. These sites load content first and then load background elements. By loading the quick hits first, and the heavy elements later, overall speed is improved. These sites don’t load sequentially from the top of the page.
- Information caching: According to AMPProject, files can be cached in the cloud in order to reduce the time content takes to get to a user’s mobile device. By using the AMP framework, platforms can easily cache or mirror the content for optimal delivery speed to users.
Laurie: Is the AMP framework ready for adoption?
Beth: Yes. The framework is set, and I think user expectations are there, too. People expect mobile content to be instantaneous and easy to read. They don’t expect to have to zoom to read it. Although in the past users accepted minor delay with mobile, people are expecting mobile sites to be quicker and quicker.
Laurie: What about my website? Is it time to convert it to AMP?
Beth: That depends. If you’re a large organization, if you’re serving news, if your end users and competitors have rapid user experiences, you should move to AMP. In fact, major Fortune 500 companies better be working on AMP right now. If you’re a small business, you need to look at your competitors and your customers. Would a speed improvement make a difference to your user? Just because your competitors haven’t moved to AMP yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Perhaps you have an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Conversely, you may decide that you have more critical website needs that require your attention first.
Laurie: So what’s the real driver? Improved user experience or improving a site’s search results?
Beth: It’s really both. Google now equates improved user experience with better search ranking. That also applies to better paid search rates and placement. Any vibrant company has got to be doing both paid ads and SEO. So a better user experience results in a better quality score and a cheaper cost per click. So there’s a way to make a business case for the development work.
Laurie: Do I have to hire an expensive agency to convert my website to AMP?
Beth: Not necessarily. Simple websites can use a WordPress plugin to make a website AMP. But, plug-ins aren’t powerful enough for complex sites or those geared toward ecommerce.
Laurie: These straightforward explanations are helpful. Where can our readers learn more?
Laurie: Thanks for giving us the down-low on faster downloads!
Are you planning, implementing or not yet considering an AMP website project?