In the short months since Google debuted its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, SEO practitioners and publishers alike have already helped it gain a good amount of traction.
Google’s open-source answer to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News, its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project started serving mobile users with content in February. According to Google, AMP pages load 85% faster than standard mobile pages. The project has the advantage of giving publishers full control over how content is presented through the technology, and also allows publishers to fully own advertising on their AMP content.
The search giant intends for AMP to serve as a way to provide a better user experience, optimized for speed, for mobile users reading publishers' content. "The web today, particularly in the mobile environment, is not really fully satisfying users' expectations. And advertising, which obviously is the lifeblood of many institutions creating content on the Web, often provides great, compelling advertising experiences but also presents experiences that are a bit more annoying than they are helpful," Google's head of news and social products, Richard Gingras, said about AMP when it was released in preview last October.
Even though AMP is a relatively new option for publishers looking to reach a mobile audience, it's already a popular tool. When AMP launched, it counted the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed among the sites with AMP pages.
SEO PowerSuite, a SEO toolkit vendor, conducted research on around 400 SEO practitioners and found that 75% were aware of AMP and half of those surveyed said they expect AMP will significantly impact page rankings. Still, only 23% reported currently implementing AMP. Though data on the topic is still limited, what stands out is that given AMP's relatively short shelf-life, the level of SEO practitioners who are aware of the project stands out.
"While there has been quite a push by Google to spread the word about AMP, it was only implemented in February of 2016. We feel the 75% awareness rate is impressive at this point," Aleh Barysevich, CMO and co-founder of SEO PowerSuite, told Marketing Dive. He doesn't see it as an issue that not even a quarter of survey respondents have started implementing AMP. Instead, the chief marketer says the figure is indicative of how quickly SEO practitioners are embracing the initiative.
Looking ahead, as more publishers and SEO marketers put it to use, experts believe it will be clear the tool can be a net positive for all players involved.
"SEO marketers really need to act fast and seize the first-mover opportunity ahead of their competition," Barysevich said. "We expect Google to unveil more algorithm updates in the future to reward sites that maximize their mobile user experience."
How Google AMP is being used
Right now Google only caches article-type pages in mobile search results, the Top Stories carousel, and only generates search results in the carousel if there are enough relevant URLs to the search. AMP has been adopted by large publishers, but because the project has easy to use plug-ins, Prin expects Wordpress and Drupal blogs will continue to increase AMP adoption. What's more, even though AMP pages are stripped down for speed, they can still embed a video, a tweet, display ads and track visits.
Though AMP can be implemented on any type of webpages, Prin said "they won’t be cached by Google and get the benefits of search. When it comes to advertising, ads must be served from secure (HTTPS) domains. This is the case when using the main ad networks, but it’s important to keep that in mind if/when serving ads from a custom domain."
Marketers and webmasters should note there are three requirements for Google to cache and serve AMP URLs:
- Pages need to be valid.
- They also need to be “discoverable” through the appropriate signaling between AMP and regular desktop URLs.
- AMP pages need to be correctly marked up with Schema.org specifications, about which developers can find more details here.
To implement AMP, SEO PowerSuite’s Barysevich said websites hosted on WordPress can simply use available plug-ins, but larger enterprise websites should have either in-house or third-party SEO experts helping with the implementation.
How AMP will impact marketers
Going beyond publishers, both Merkle and SEO PowerSuite see it evolving quickly to being relevant and applicable to other players in the ad space.
"There are really two main aspects we feel will benefit marketers the most," Barysevich said. "First is the fundamental performance gains that mobile sites will be able to deliver, and second is the fact that AMP offers a much richer interactive experience -- one that’s typically only found in a desktop environment."
As for Prin, he thinks it won't be logn before Google starts serving product pages in the AMP format. And when it happens, he said digital retail marketers should work with their development teams to create AMP versions of any and all webpages. As AMP evolves, what's crucial, per Prin, is to be an early-adopter in your industry so as to stay ahead of your competition, or to at least keep an eye on AMP to see how your business can benefit from it.
"AMP is another example of Google pushing for a better web. They want to serve a web that is useful, fast, and secure in order to keep their users happy. If you help them by adopting their initiatives and best practices, they’ll reward you for it," he said.