If you haven’t heard already there is a lot of buzz online about Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP.
All too often accessing content online via a mobile is a painful experience, with sites being slow to load, freezing or worse, eating up data usage.
Organisations like Google and Twitter support the introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages as they want mobile users to get a much better experience from websites.
“The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open source initiative that aims to address these problems by enabling content to load instantaneously and provide a better web experience for all.”
Ins and Outs of AMP
AMP uses a slimmed or diet version of HTML, which is similar to the code used for websites. However, several things you normally take for granted can’t be used, like Form tags.
In search results the AMP pages are heavily cached for speed loading, however, this doesn’t limit your ability to track performance in analytics and you can still place ads on the page.
However, do be aware that over use of ads can harm your SEO, so be careful when adding them to your page layouts.
Key Things to Consider
Is it Valid – With all the limitations of AMP it’s vital to make sure your pages are valid or they just won’t appear in search results.
You can test Accelerated Mobile Pages using a Google Chrome extension in developer tools and you can also review your pages in Search Console.
Streamlining Page Creation – If you have a large website on a content management system it will make sense to look at ways to streamline AMP creation.
It’s still early days but some popular CMS’s like WordPress have plugins available.
Custom CMS’s like our own ExtraCMS, that already integrates structured data and rel canonicals as standard without the need for plugins, are planning to roll out an update in the near future.
Proper Use of Rel Canonicals – AMP pages mostly contain duplicate content from the main website, be that an article, products or other type of page. As such, you need to include a rel canonical tag on the AMP pointing back to the original web page.
Even if your AMP page has no duplicate version elsewhere it still needs a rel canonical, but this time one that highlights it as the primary source.
What is in it for Website Owners
Initially the media has had the most take up for AMP, as the appetite for viewing news stories on mobile is huge, but what about other types of websites?
Ofcom reported last year (2015) that in the UK 66% of adults have a smartphone; this was up 5% from the year before.
Smartphones are also the most commonly used device among adults under the age of 55.
For any UK business that’s a huge chunk of your UK market!
Perhaps you think just having a mobile responsive website should be enough and maybe it is, but have you actually tried to access your website from a smartphone?
More importantly, do your customers give your website on mobile the thumbs up?
Lastly, what are your competitors doing about AMP?
The answers to these questions could be very revealing and help you decide when to invest in AMP.
In my experience many websites are giving a terrible mobile experience and if AMP is going to improve things then I’m already a fan.