We all know that Google is neurotic about page load time, and even uses it as a ranking factor.
Having your web pages load in the shortest possible time should be one of your top goals for both UX and SEO. The standard benchmark is a 2 second load time. You want to be under 2 seconds, and there are plenty of tools to help you analyze this metric.
Our SEO Auditor will show your page load time in seconds, but you will most likely want to see a “waterfall” of each resource’s load time to see which are holding up your website’s full page load time – use GT Metrix for that.
For mobile pages, Google’s expectations are much higher when it comes to load time. Your site needs to load fast.
So, what’s the answer? You guessed it, accelerated mobile pages, or AMP for short.
Let’s first get into what AMP is, then we’ll discuss the benefits for your website.
What is AMP?
AMP is an open-source initiative by Google that aims to improve the mobile experience for everyone. This includes publishers, users, and content creators.
With AMP, your website loads instantly. We’re all tired of the poorly optimized pop-ups as we browse on our mobile devices, and this study on the cost of mobile ads drives the point even further.
We all want a more streamlined mobile experience.
Accelerated mobile pages is way to build this better mobile experience with static content that renders fast, very fast.
AMP is made of three parts:
- AMP HTML – Basically HTML, but extended with custom AMP properties and performance top of mind. There is required markup and variations of standard HTML to keep in mind. Metadata is allowed and encouraged.
- AMP Cache – A content delivery network (CDN) of validated AMP documents published to the web. If your AMP pages are built properly (and you use this feature), Google will globally cache your pages and serve that content instead of yours.
What are the AMP Benefits?
Hopefully, this is becoming strikingly clear by now. The main benefit is insane performance for your mobile experience, which should increase your visibility in the SERPs.
However, a study done by SEO PowerSuite only shows that 23% are currently implementing AMP, as per the chart below.
Like with all things SEO, once this becomes saturated, you will be behind the curve. Can you believe some sites still aren’t even mobile friendly? That boggles my mind.
Anyway, let’s get into some specifics to help further explain how performance directly benefits your website.
First up is conversion rate. I’m guessing your website has a purpose – lead generation, more advertising clicks, or to promote a product and service effectively.
There is a direct correlation with page load time and conversion rate, as we can see by the case study from Soasta.
In the same case study by Soasta, we see that bounce rate is affected EVEN MORE than conversion rate, to a whopping 58% at the top end nearing 10 seconds of load time.
This is not good, and bounce rate seems to be another direct correlation with rankings. Google has gone on and on to say that bounce rate is not a ranking factor, but all SEOs know (should know) that “pogo-sticking” is a huge negative towards maintained rankings.
Well, to be exact, the maintained part of pogo-sticking behavior is more of a signal for Google’s RankBrain, which is the “third most important signal contributing to results”, as seen on Search Engine Watch.
“On the most basic level, Google could see how satisfied users were. To paraphrase Tolstoy, happy users were all the same. The best sign of their happiness was the “Long Click” – This occurred when someone went to a search result, ideally the top one, and did not return. That meant Google has successfully fulfilled the query.” Steven Levy. In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes our Lives
Your content and all the SEO you apply to it will get your page crawled and ranked quickly, but if Google doesn’t see that a user stays on your page for a long time, they will demote it in the SERPs.
Increased Visibility for Publishers
Mobile search and use continues to rise. We don’t need any fancy stats to know this. A quick look at your Google Analytics will easily show you the data you need.
With some of our clients, we’re seeing up to 50% of traffic coming from mobile search.
News related sites such as The New York Times have been showing up with an AMP carousel in mobile search for a good while now. Besides news related content, recipies are displaying AMP in search as well.
Gary Illyes recently spoke at the Chicago SEJ Summit and discussed that more types of content are slated to be delivered via AMP soon. He didn’t provide any timelines.
I’m also starting to see many SEO related topics from SEJ, Search Engine Land, and many others showing up lately, which is great.
Don’t wait and get behind the curve. Get your site AMP’d and ready now for the new content types as they roll out.
As a publisher, you will also want to get familiar with Facebook Instant Articles, but for Google search, AMP is where it’s at.
Is AMP a Ranking Factor?
No, not yet.
However, AMP does satisfy the mobile-friendly ranking signal, as mentioned in this SEJ post.
Back in April of 2015, “Mobilegeddon” was a Google update that negatively affected non-mobile friendly websites.
As I mentioned, AMP is only being displayed for mostly news currently. We can definitely expect Google to increasingly integrate AMP into their search results.
I expect AMP will be absolutely critical to your mobile content serving needs, and it must be part of your SEO best practices today for future search.
Where Do I Start with AMP?
If you’re on WordPress like we are, this plugin will get you setup with a bare-bones version of AMP for your website. You will then need to customize the logo, add your Google Analytics, and fine tune some other settings after that (eg. extend your social sharing buttons).
I can create a tutorial, if you’re interested, but really wanted to go over the benefits of AMP with this post.
AMP should be a high priority for your website. If you’re one of the many that still hasn’t made your website mobile friendly, I would start with AMP first.
More and more visitors are using their mobile devices for everything from just browsing the web to fully completing their online purchases using their phones.
AMP is Google’s answer to their commitment for the best user experience for all their customers. We all want things “now”, and that includes our mobile experience.
Get your website up to speed with AMP today.