According to Google, 40% of people click away if a page takes three seconds to load. As such, it comes as no surprise that an open-source coding standard is looking to speed up the web. The open source initiative is called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and many publishers as well as some e-commerce businesses have started to use this new framework in recent months.
Before analysing the impact AMP have on your digital marketing efforts, here is a quick recap of AMP basics.
What is AMP?
The objective of AMP is to improve site speed and thereby user experience on mobile devices. The AMP initiative provides a unified and templated way to achieve this. Initially focused on publishers to help them make their content load faster, guidelines have now also been shared for e-commerce websites.
How does AMP work?
What does an AMP look like?
AMP content now appears throughout Google’s mobile search results and is identified by a lightning bolt sign.
You can easily discover if a web page has an AMP equivalent in place by looking for the ‘amphtml’ link tag e.g. <link rel=”amphtml” href=”https://www.example.com/url/to/amp/document.html”> in the source code.
How does AMP impact your digital marketing?
Let’s now look at the benefits and limitations of AMP in its current state and more specifically at how it impacts different areas of digital marketing.
Here are our insights and some things to watch out for when implementing and dealing with AMP on your site.
Accelerated Mobile Pages & SEO
There are a few important points to take into consideration from an SEO perspective before implementing AMP on your site:
- Although AMP will lead to the duplication of content on your website (you will essentially have a duplicate AMP page for every standard web page), there is an easy way to avoid SEO complications. Each AMP must contain a link rel=”amphtml” href=”URL”/ tag that links back to the normal HTML version of the page itself. This tag is essentially the AMP equivalent to the commonly used canonical tag. To help with the correct implementation of AMP, Google will flag implementation errors within Google Search Console (see screengrab below).
- In July 2016, Gary Illyes from Google stated that “currently, AMP is not a mobile ranking factor.” However, we know that page speed is a ranking factor within Google’s desktop algorithm. It may therefore not be long until AMP does become a ranking factor for search engines. Especially when Google pushes live its mobile only index.
- One benefit of Accelerated Mobile Pages which is already apparent is the “fast” lightning bolt label designation on search engine results pages. While the “mobile friendly” label has now been removed across the mobile SERP, we are likely to see AMP labels appear as commonly as the “mobile friendly” label once was. The label will no doubt encourage superior click through rates as users seek fast loading content when on mobile devices.
- Additionally, the Google News carousel which frequently features AMP content sits above the fold on mobile devices and pushes down organic search results.
- From an analytical standpoint, it’s worthwhile to note that the Google page speed tool doesn’t automatically flag if AMP content is in place and doesn’t explore the speed of AMP content unless a specific AMP URL is entered into the tool.
Accelerated Mobile Pages & Content Monetisation
Publisher content can continue to be monetised via third-party ad networks as publishers are able to sell ad inventory on their AMP pages. However, there continue to be concerns around the impact AMP have on publisher revenues. WSJ report that multiple publishers have seen revenue levels drop by half. This drop is based on limited ad formats that are currently on offer across AMP versions of editorial content – for example, the use of fully customisable ad units which tend to generate higher levels of revenue.
Accelerated Mobile Pages & User Experience Limitations
AMP can look almost as good as a standard web page. However, as Accelerated Mobile Pages load within Google, make sure you have a good site header and navigation in place to allow site visitors to explore other areas of your site. A great example of this done well can be seen across The Guardian’s AMP content: https://amp.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/10/how-to-make-the-perfect-polenta-chips
We have however noted that some publishers’ AMP implementation has resulted in less cross-promotion of content and missing key navigational elements. It’s therefore something to watch out for when implementing AMP. Don’t lose your navigation and internal linking functionality.
In general, if you roll out AMP, ensure you closely monitor user engagement metrics within your analytics package.
Overall, AMP’s faster load times should increase click-through-rate, content consumption and decrease website abandonment, so make sure your implementation of AMP doesn’t work against that.
Accelerated Mobile Pages & Web Analytics
There are a few areas to consider when implementing tracking on AMP:
- Ensure that Analytics tracking code is properly installed on AMP pages.
- AMP can be set up via a sub domain, folder or as a new unique URL with ‘amp’ added in. This means that the web analytics performance data of your landing pages could be split across two different landing pages within your analytics data – one being the standard landing page, the other the AMP page.
- A possible way to resolve this issue would be by adding an AMP folder or parameter at the end of your URL (e.g. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/01/google-now-lets-you-control-your-phone-using-harry-potter-spells/amp/) and then grouping the pages by page ID when reporting back on landing pages.
- Alternatively, you could place content on an AMP sub domain (e.g. amp.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/03/google-european-commission-shopping-charges), and treat this as your already established domain. This would also ensure that these two landing page versions are grouped. However, ensure you have an alternative analytics view which also allows you to evaluate AMP separately.
Accelerated Mobile Pages & Social Media
Google’s AMP is not based on the same technology as Facebook’s Instant Articles although both technologies are aimed at the same goal – to make web content load faster and in both instances, a lightning bolt symbol is used to mark the content. However, while AMP is an open-source initiative, Facebook’s technology is limited to Facebook.
So, is AMP for you?
There are lots of things to consider, but the future of the web is fast! So, get stuck in and learn the new rules of AMP, the results speak for it. AMP is also under constant development and changes and improvements to AMP are rolled out frequently so no doubt things will get easier over the next few months.
However, it is a project that needs to be considered carefully, so it may be an idea to start by transitioning your editorial content into AMP format before moving on to the rest.