Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) What You Need To Know

by | Apr 28, 2016

accelerated mobile pages project wordpress AMP plugin
8 min read

What is the Accelerated Mobile Pages project?

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project is a combined initiative by Google, major publishers, developers and technology companies to improve the mobile web. AMP focuses on improving mobile user experience, with an emphasis on faster mobile pages.
Why? More than ever, we use our smartphones and mobile devices to discover and digest news, read content and find fresh, interesting information on the web. We carry the internet with us in our pockets. This convenience is restricted by the current state of the mobile web experience, which is hindered by slow performance.
We live with devices capable of providing information on demand, at our finger tips. It’s ironic that many mobile sites are slow to load or respond. Combine a lack of speed with clunky mobile design + other on-page barriers = poor user experience rules the mobile web.

So this thing that should be a source of utter wonder, is a source of frustration – Tony Haile, CEO Chartbeat

More focus on improving mobile web performance, especially for publishers and content creators, makes a lot of sense. Google is a key platform to content discovery. Search engines, content creators and publishers play a huge part in delivering fresh news / content on our mobile devices.
A faster, well optimised mobile user experience should not only be limited to only publishers or content producers. Providing useful, interesting content, rapidly – should be the aim of all websites.

As the mobile web grows, better performance has not

Mobile search and usage continues to grow every day.

More searches are performed on mobile devices than computers in 10 countries, including the USA and Japan – Google official announcement, May 2015

Despite a publicly announced Google mobile friendly update, which heavily influenced mobile rankings, overall mobile web experience remains poor.
Many mobile sites are still not responsive, or fail Google’s mobile friendly test. (Google also publicly stated that responsive web design is preferred). Commonly, mobile sites and pages are laden with ads, pop-ups and therefore, poor loading times. Not to mention difficulties with basic mobile functions, like scrolling.
Think about the mobile user experience you provide
Best practice user experience involves putting yourself in a user’s shoes. Speed is crucial. As a mobile user, there is nothing more annoying than waiting for a website or page to load. (Even when you have a reliable, fast network or internet connection available).
make your mobile pages mobile friendly with AMP and responsive design
On our mobile devices, we want to access and process information quickly, on the move. We don’t want to wait more than a couple of seconds for a page, app or site to load.
Additionally, we don’t want to have to pinch and zoom to read info. Scrolling should be easy too, as should navigation from one link, or page, to another.

AMP optimises your pages for the mobile web

The Accelerated Mobile Pages project aims for instantaneous loading. Complemented with a simple, easy to digest page format, this can vastly improve your mobile user experience.
Benefits / differences we noticed with the WordPress pages we tested:

  • super fast mobile page loading times (< 1 second)
  • increased font sizes / white space
  • simple, easy to find links within content

Added benefits for publishers:

  • the ability to publish content to a wider audience, faster
  • support for ads
  • AMP visitor analytics
  • marked up publisher content may be shown in a ‘top stories’ carousel

Google provides an AMP demo version for mobile devices here.
accelerated mobile pages demo on google search with top stories

How do I accelerate my mobile pages and get them found?

The AMP project is open source with it’s own GitHub page. AMP HTML has been developed to code pages in this new format, which does take some familiarisation. AMP has been built with existing web technologies in mind.
If you have a WordPress website, AMP is very simple to implement, with the AMP WordPress plugin. Add and install the new plugin and it does the rest for you.
The AMP WordPress plugin includes;

  • auto-generated canonicals from AMP pages to original pages
  • AMP markup

For both WordPress and non-Wordpress sites, follow the below process for AMP success. These principles are very similar to making a search friendly website. Click on links on the relevant item to find out further details;

How do accelerated mobile pages work?

AMP HTML basically strips down pages to only the essential code and elements of a page. Javascript and forms are out, which makes this form of HTML more streamlined, ‘lighter’ and faster.
Google crawls and indexes AMP pages and also keeps them in a special AMP cache. AMP is designed purely for speed and readability.

Before and after Accelerated Mobile Pages

WordPress blog post before AMP HTML applied;
wordpress blog post before Accelerated Mobile Pages HTML applied
Post with AMP HTML applied using the AMP WordPress plugin;
blog post after Accelerated Mobile Pages HTML applied with wordpress AMP plugin

Page speed changes after Accelerated Mobile Pages HTML implemented

Page speed is a huge advantage of AMP. A faster loading page means improved user experience, as well as lower bounce rates and higher conversions.
wordpress blog post page speed before AMP applied
wordpress blog post pingdom load time with Accelerated Mobile Pages applied

  • 91 less page requests.
  • Page load time of less than 1 second.
  • 427.3kB reduction in page size.

If you are a publisher, blogger or content creator, will you be applying AMP to your site? From our initial testing, it is definitely worthwhile.

Kirsten Tanner

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