How Google AMP Has Changed SEO
If you’ve spent any time in online marketing or SEO, you know the landscape is continually changing. To keep up with technology, you have to research and learn to stay ahead of the curve. Last year, Google announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, poised to change the mobile web experience. That was October. Now that we’re almost a year out from that announcement, what is it doing to SEO?
What is Google AMP?
Google AMP is a protocol for web designers and developers. It’s an open-source project, developed by Google, in collaboration with WordPress, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The point of the project is to improve the speed of mobile websites, as Google’s research shows sites lose an average of 40% of visitors if the website fails to load within three seconds. Websites that deploy AMP technology can improve the load speed, and thus the overall mobile experience.
AMP is also thought you be a reaction to Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative, which allows content to load quickly directly within the Facebook app.
The Technology Powering Google AMP
AMP HTML is just a simplified version of regular HTML. You can identify it with a lightning bolt in the code. The majority of AMP HTML tags match traditional HTML tags, though some have been replaced or modified to improve performance.
How Has Google AMP Affected SEO?
Shortly after Google rolled out the first deployment that focused on English-language news publishers, Google said the AMPs weren’t drawn into results, just an improvement on the user experience. They have said AMP is not an official ranking factor, however, because AMPs improve site load time, which is a ranking factor, they have played a role in SEO.
- AMP pages are placed higher in the results. AMPs show higher in the mobile search results, so users don’t have to scroll vertically. They’re formatted, so they show in a horizontal carousel for easy swiping, which gives any top-ranked AMP pages great visibility.
- Most people are reading the content. People who click on AMP pages are more likely to engage with the content and less likely to bounce. This makes it an excellent option for people who use long-form content to cultivate relationships with readers.
- AMP isn’t solely static. Though they are a stripped-down version of the technology used on the full web, you can still include dynamic content, video, audio, and social sharing buttons. As time goes on, we’ll see additional more complex page elements added.
- Google Analytics supports Google AMP. Because of this, you can see how users are responding to the AMP versions of your pages. You can track page views, clicks on various parts of your landing pages, and social interactions.
- AMP Pages won’t generate leads. Until the ability to add opt-in forms comes to AMP, you won’t be able to build leads with it. If that’s your primary focus, you won’t see any benefit from implementing AMP on your website.
- AMP could hamper link building efforts. The URL of AMP pages is still rooted in Google.com, so if you get links to your AMP pages, you won’t get the same link juice and benefit you would than if someone linked to your regular page. Since link building plays a significant role in ethical SEO, this is a problem for many websites.
- Your HTML needs to be flawless. Google won’t cache your AMP pages on the web unless they are 100% free of code errors, so unless you are, or can hire a professional to do the work for you, you may not be able to capitalize on AMP.
- AMP doesn’t help eCommerce websites. AMP focuses mostly on long-form content and articles. Generally, this doesn’t provide answers to questions your customers would ask. Unless your business website has a substantial library of blog posts and articles, there isn’t much use for AMP HTML yet.
What About the Mobile-First Index?
First announced in November 2016, we still haven’t seen it launched. It’s vital to include AMP in the theme of your website before the launch of the index because it’s better than using a responsive website design or separate domain for your mobile site.
AMP documents load 2x faster than standard websites, and just a tenth of the latency of a responsive mobile page.
Still not sure you should make AMP a priority?
- A one-second delay in website load time can decrease conversions by up to 7 percent.
- By 2020, 80 percent of all mobile data traffic will come from smartphones.
- A 2016 study found that 58 percent of searches were conducted over mobile devices.
Ultimately, it’s too soon to see how the AMP Project will fit into the future of SEO. Unless you’re focused on long-form content, there’s not much benefit for you, but that could quickly change in the coming months and years. There may be a similar system implemented for eCommerce and business websites later. But, the fact remains that page speed and mobile friendliness is essential for all sites.