The Google AMP Update

Posted by Surround Integrated on October 27th, 2016

With the digital landscape moving towards Mobile, and quickly, accelerated Mobile pages could be a key differentiator to improved visibility and user experience on your website — Enter Google AMP. The digital experts at Surround have been watching how the Google AMP launch has been received and monitoring the effects it’s having in terms of user experience.  Here’s the scoop:

Google AMP Update

If you are involved in the digital marketing world, then you have probably heard about the latest Google AMP update.  If you’re not familiar with AMP, you should be because it could soon become the make-or-break factor for your website.

What is AMP?

According to Google, AMP is “an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.” Or, in plain English, AMP is Google’s attempt to improve mobile content viewing by stripping it down to the essentials. It was released back in April of 2016.

AMP only allows simple coding (no complex JAVA) and hosts pages on its own server eliminating the need to connect with individual page servers. Google hopes these measures will provide users with a faster experience that is a more seamless experience, while publishers will enjoy a higher SERP (search engine results page) ranking. Although AMP is not yet an official ranking factor, it makes sites more mobile friendly, and faster, both of which are confirmed ranking factors. As an added bonus for publishers, AMP pages appear in the carousel (the first organic spot on the SERP).

Does it work?

AMP pages cut down page loading times to under 1 second and require 1/10 of the data of normal pages, but that doesn’t mean AMP has been entirely well received.

AMP Criticism

AMP does have its critics. Some people worry that AMP, due to the restrictions of minimal code and being hosted on Google’s servers, could reduce ad revenue. Google admits that fewer ads will be shown, but believes that better usability will decrease bounce rate and increase ad revenue.

A larger criticism is that, like Facebook’s Instant Articles, AMP is Google’s attempt to keep content within its own closely guarded walls.  AMP versions of content will always appear higher in mobile searches than the identical content on the original site. For content producers, if the current trend continues, then it may be justifiable to fear a loss of control over their own content and audience.

Mobile is quickly becoming the preferred platform for consuming content, meaning AMP will only become more and more important to content publishers.

What’s next for AMP?

Google can be notoriously secretive, especially when it comes to SEO, but the company has already indicated that AMP will be applied to e-commerce, travel, recipes, entertainment and other types of content.

Should you get on the AMP bandwagon?

Despite the valid concerns and criticisms levelled at AMP the fact of the matter is that content producers will have to evolve or die. AMP will provide higher speeds, a better mobile experience, greater ad revenue (according to Google) and likely a higher SERP ranking. As Google further develops AMP and incorporates it directly into its search algorithm, sites which do not use AMP will begin to suffer.

For developers this may mean some extra hours to essentially produce multiple sites for the same content: a traditional HTML page, another version for AMP, and possibly a further page for Facebook Instant Articles.