Are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Still Relevant in 2021?
Since the beginning, fast-loading websites have been considered SEO-friendly. Apart from ranking high, faster loading pages lead to happier website visitors.
According to a study by Google and SOASTA, 40% of the visitors leave a web page if it loads in more than three seconds.
So, you have only three seconds to catch the attention of a user who clicked your ad or came through organic searches. If your page can’t load in this time, your ad went in vain regardless of how attractive it was.
Page loading speed is considered a ranking signal. Google included many programs to help business owners improve their site speed. Accelerated Mobile Pages was an initiative taken by Google to help website owners increase their site speed by trimming many unnecessary features that take time to load.
Page loading speed is crucial to ranking because it’s directly linked with User-experience. The load time is so critical for ranking that Google considers it a significant ranking signal. Nobody would like to visit a website that takes an eternity to load.
Initially, AMP created a considerable stir, and even the social networking sites like Twitter went ahead and implemented that. But soon, it faded away into obscurity, and in 2021, its symbol was entirely removed by Google from its search results without any announcement.
So, in this article, we will discuss everything about AMP, including what it is, how it functions, and whether it is still relevant in 2021:
What is AMP?
The open-source coding project offered by Google was designed to help business owners create websites that can quickly load on mobile devices.
AMP strips the web pages down to the essential elements and stores its cached version on Google servers, so Google flashes the result almost instantly.
The program filters ads, videos, and animations, so only the most relevant content and images are left on the web page. It’s the most coveted feature for mobile users because they don’t want to see many ads and videos on their screens while reading an article or a blog post. Heavy elements can prevent a web page from downloading instantly. Most of the information the mobile users consume is urgent, so any distraction or delay will result in a high bounce rate.
Earlier, Google flashed a lightning bolt icon in front of AMP pages pulled up in the SERPs so that the user may differentiate fast-loading AMP pages from average websites. Google gave these sites an advantage to encourage users to click on them to have a good user experience.
But, when Google discontinued the lightning icon to mark AMP websites, people had an impression that AMP would no longer exist as an SEO practice.
Why Was Amp Introduced?
The ultimate goal of AMP was to provide a swift user experience by delivering content with the speed of lightning, even on poor Internet connections. Google was so obsessed with the page load speed that it made it a crucial ranking factor. Google’s prime objective of creating AMP pages was to compete with Facebook instant articles and Apple News.
How Does AMP Work?
According to Search English Land, AMP has a three-part structure:
1. AMP HTML: Equipped with some custom tags and properties, AMP HTML is a subset of HTML that you can easily use while adapting standard pages to AMP HTML with some custom tags and properties.
If you want to know the difference between AMP HTML and basic HTML, you can refer to the AMP Project’s list of required markup.
3. AMP CDN: This is an alternative Content Delivery Network, which makes your website super fast. It caches your AMP-enabled pages and optimizes them for performance.
- A streamlined version of CSS is used with AMP
- Unless adequately validated, the AMP sites will not work
- Load custom fonts separately
- Declare height and width to prevent quirky-looking images
- You can use videos on your AMP page only with AMP-approved extensions
Many people will be surprised to know that every AMP page has a specific URL, but it is not its actual URL. Since these pages are hosted on Google servers, their URL may look like this: google.com/amp/s/www.dashclicks.com/…
Google is committed to showing these sites faster, directing the user to its AMP version hosted on its servers. It not only reduces the page load time but also improves engagement, conversions, and revenue.
How Will You AMP Your Site As a Beginner?
If you are a beginner, you must know that you need to maintain two versions of an article page while creating the AMP version of a website. It includes an original version for the users and its AMP version.
Hack to use iframes: If you want to use iframes, there is a hack you can try:
To accommodate these restrictions, you might have to recreate your site template. For example, while creating the AMP version, all CSS must be in line and be less than 50KB.
It would help if you loaded custom fonts using a unique amp-font extension and handled multimedia separately.
To optimize images for AMP, you need to use the custom amp-img element and include an explicit width and height. Otherwise, you will have trouble downloading the image in the AMP version.
For animated GIFs, you can use an amp-anim extended component.
To embed locally hosted videos via HTML5, you can use a tag known as “amp-video.”
However, for YouTube videos, you can use the component — amp-youtube.
Here are some other components you can use:
Slideshows => amp-carousel
Image lightboxes => amp-image-lightbox
Social media embeds=> extended components
These extended components can easily be used with a bit of planning for your web design.
To help Google understand that you’re using the AMP version of your article, you need to modify the original version a bit. Add the following tag, which acts as a canonical tag for AMP.
<link rel=”amphtml” href=”http://www.example.com/blog-post/amp/”>
Sometimes, you need schema.org metadata to explain the content type being used on the page. The currently listed page types, according to GitHub, are:
Schema.org metadata is an essential requirement while making your content eligible to appear in the Google search news carousel. So, to pull traffic to your website from Google by implementing AMP, you should adequately implement your schema.
Pros and Cons of AMP Pages
When Google first introduced AMP pages in February 2016, they had received a desk-thumping welcome from the industry. Experts went to the extent that it is the future, but the romance between Google and AMP soon ended, and it started losing steam. Now that Google has completely stopped using the AMP badges in 2021, its credibility in the market is already finished. Another study by Kinsta proved to be the last nail in the coffin for AMP, which said that AMP reduced 59% of the leads.
Here are the pros and cons of AMP pages:
Pros of AMP:
- Low website loading time
- Easy to use on WordPress with a simple plugin
- Improved Google rankings
Cons of AMP:
- Reduced ad revenue because of fewer ads
- Hard to implement without WordPress
- Limited analytics prevents you from seeing the fluctuations in traffic
- Limited elements in content and design mean minor features for branding and traffic diversion within the website
- Limited lead capturing
- Limited social sharing
So, AMP has more cons than pros. That might be the reason why Google has dropped it because site speed can be increased through various other methods.
Who is AMP Beneficial For?
Google has already decided to take it off because it has been found counterproductive for most websites. However, there are certain websites where you can still use AMP. Here are some of the examples:
- If your website is still struggling with speed issues even after optimizing for speed.
- If more than 70% of your traffic comes from smartphones.
AMP is probably not for you if your website is conversion rate optimized, already fast, and highly branded.
AMP Best Practices
If you still feel AMP can benefit you in some way, here are some of the things you should remember while implementing it.
- Implement AMP when it is inevitable and makes sense. Would you mind reading the previous section to know who it’s suitable for?
- In case you aren’t using WordPress, it’s better to hire a developer. Using the AMP WordPress plugin can be a bit complicated for you. Hiring a developer is the best option in both cases.
- Avoid implementing AMP on high converting or high traffic web pages as it eliminates essential elements like opt-in form and branding. So, it should not implement AMP on pages dedicated to generating leads or branding.
- The good news is you can try A/B testing on AMP. So check out how it impacts crucial metrics like conversion rate etc.
How Can You Get AMP on Your Website?
You can use the AMP plugin if the CMS you use is WordPress for your website. If you don’t use WP, here is the alternative walkthrough. If you have never done coding yourself, it’s better to call a developer.
Do You Still Need AMP Pages?
With radical changes in Google policy regarding AMP pages, they are not as valuable as they once seemed. Prominent sites and portals are ditching them, and Google has removed the AMP icon from the SERPs. It can be a bit useful if your site is a news site that publishes a huge volume of news.
Businesses embraced AMP when it was first released amid much fanfare. It was considered a cure-all elixir, but soon people woke up to this crude reality: it has more cons than pros. Experts argued that it would work for temporary content pieces such as stories etc. But Google soon ditched it as a requirement for top stories and removed the AMP icon from the search results. So, it can’t drive any additional traffic to your site. So, the website owners now should focus on improving site speed through other measures. Since more and more people are using mobile devices to search the web, the user experience on mobile should be seamless and user-friendly. It is the only way you can increase traffic and grow your business.