Everything You Need To Know About AMP For WordPress Website
The internet is ever-evolving. And that is a headache-inducing fact for business and website owners. It can be quite a challenge to stay up-to-date with constant Google algorithm updates and other similar changes. Not adapting to these updates means getting left behind.
On the other end, website owners have to fight the battle for customer attentiveness. The continually decreasing attention spans means visitors are spending very little time on websites, looking for instant gratifications, i.e., quick answers, faster information and product displays available at the speed of light.
The mobile-friendly Google update, ‘Mobilegeddon,’ triggered a ‘web revolution.’ Mobile users have replaced desktop users, and this is precisely why Google now focuses more on mobile-friendliness to give users the best web experience.
Source: Smart Insights
While working for Sophie and Trey, an online clothing boutique, I observed that more than 50% of the traffic was coming from mobile devices which is huge. Also, mobile traffic had better conversion rates. Here’s a screenshot of the Analytics report to give you a better idea.
Yup! That’s shocking, but it’s not the end of the story. There is something BIG coming for the webmasters that can give them an edge over their rivals regarding mobile search rankings.
Well, there’s AMP for that!
Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP can be used by publishers who want their websites to load faster on mobile devices.
The AMP project is now almost a year old and is more stable than ever before. So this is the right time to learn more about the new platform, discover its pros and cons as well as figure out its advantages for WordPress websites.
Websites with AMP installed and configured properly load almost instantly, and offer a superior browsing experience for users on mobile. The good news is that AMP-enables websites aren’t just Google Search compatible, but the project also has support from Bing, Baidu, Pinterest, Twitter and other parties.
More About AMP – Getting into The Nitty-Gritty!
It doesn’t matter how ‘Smart’ their phones are, most mobile users complain of slow speed when accessing sites via their devices. Reading on the web can be excruciatingly slow, and even more of a pain when pages are content rich. And all of this happens despite all efforts taken by site owners to speed up their website.
The AMP HTML provides the framework where these super light-weight web pages are built using existing web technologies. Simply put, AMP is a great way to create stripped down web pages just for your mobile audience.
As mentioned earlier, AMP has been around for a year almost. Google officially introduced AMP mobile listings in February 2016.
Pages making use of AMP coding appear unique in the search results with a special designation. While searching from a mobile phone, if
you notice a tiny lightning bolt next to search results, it means that the website is a part of the AMP project.
All in all, AMP is a great thing for websites that publish often and need stronger mobile presence. Remember, more and more people are using mobile devices for online searches. It makes web pages load quicker. And faster sites are great for enhancing user experience and improving traffic. And that’s what we all want for our websites. Isn’t it?
Difference between AMP and Non-AMP Browsing
We’ve already established the advantage of speed for AMP-enabled websites. But another major difference is that these websites are clutter free. Now if you are planning to offer a more complex user experience, you’ll have a difficult time with AMP, here’s why:
- Accelerated pages require a streamlined version of CSS.
And there you have it. The fact is that Accelerated Mobile Pages prioritize speed and readability over everything else… even shareability.
Pros and Cons of Accelerated Mobile Pages
Some SEO specialists are of the opinion that AMPs rank higher in SERPs. They might be counting the better user experience for mobile users, but there are a lot of factors they are ignoring when making the call.
And while AMP does support Google Analytics, other analytic platforms are still a dream. Now, this also holds true for advertising platforms.
But despite all these setbacks, AMPs are heaven sent for websites that get a major chunk of their traffic from mobile searches. AMP can complement your SEO efforts significantly in this case.
Another major drawback of AMP has been highlighted by bloggers who claim that switching back from Google AMP can be the stuff of nightmares. This shouldn’t be a major issue because you can always do a 301 redirect and fix the problem. But hey, a headache is a headache!
So, does it make sense to implement AMP for your website yet?
Here’s the entire list of pros and cons of implementing AMP to help you make up your mind:
1. Faster websites
Of course! That’s the one advantage we’ve been talking about all this while. AMPs are slick, clean and fast. There is absolutely nothing slowing down the page loading speed. So, you are basically guaranteed lightning fast load times.
2. Higher Mobile SERP Rankings
AMPs don’t seem to care for rankings much. But thanks to the fast load times, the quality of the page looks better, and the page is ranked higher. The longer stay times are also a major influence.
3. Enhanced Server Performance
As we mentioned earlier, AMPs for your website are hosted with Google, giving your site servers a reprise from the onslaught of traffic. AMPs reduce server loads and help improve their performance.
But at what cost?
Let’s find out.
1. Reduced Ad Revenue
Now, AMP project supports ads but truthfully speaking, their potential for revenue-generation is quite limited. And implementing ads on AMP pages is very difficult as well.
2. Sparse Analytics
Again, AMP does support Google Analytics, but when push comes to shove and its time to implement it, you’ll find out that AMPs require a different tag for all AMP pages. This takes a lot of time before collection and analysis of data begins.
3. Cache Issues
Remember AMPs aren’t using top-secret proprietary technology to make your web pages load faster on mobile. Its just Google now hosts your pages making them appear faster after a search. The question is – how long can we really allow Google servers to ‘control’ our websites?
No Easy Questions
If the idea of faster loading websites is enticing for you, AMP is your thing. It allows web pages to load faster for better user experience. But its disadvantages also raise some interesting questions for website owners:
- Are you okay with the idea of sacrificing a huge chunk of ad revenue for user-friendliness?
- Will you be okay managing a site without the in-depth information, tables, and charts offered by your analytics software?
- And, most importantly: Can you live with the idea that your trusty servers will not be handling the mobile traffic, instead your site will depend on Google through cache?
These are all quite tricky choices to make.
What is the SEO advantage to using AMPs?
We’ve already established that an Accelerated Mobile Page is a connected version of a regular webpage being displayed as canonical. Search engines will not list both the AMP and regular pages, just the canonical page. And in case the search is made via a mobile device, the AMP page might only be favored in SERPs.
Yoast SEO users can install and activate Glue to use it with AMP. But before you do that, let’s figure out if it’s even worth your SEO efforts.
9to5Google.com recently conducted a poll where they showed the participants examples of AMP and non-AMP mobile page displays. Then the participants were asked if they are more likely to click on AMP links as opposed to the regular links.
A majority, i.e., 51% of the answers were in the affirmative, clearly showcasing the supremacy of AMP page UX. These results apparently are a very compelling reason to install AMP for SEO. And not just for rankings, but also for higher click-through-rates, i.e., more traffic from organic search.
Increasing traffic from organic search is after all the greatest goal of Search Engine Optimization. This can lead to more on-site conversions.
AMP – An Attempt to End Facebook Monopoly over Content
When the Accelerated Mobile Pages were launched in 2016, there was quite a lot of skepticism about it. The pages offered limited advertising as well as a protocol that led users away from the native website of the landing page. It was generally believed that AMP won’t be able to catch on with the general public.
But within the last 2 years, AMPs have left behind the Instant Articles from Facebook, in terms of adaption and SEO. It has been used to mobile-optimize more than 2 billion web pages. While in September 2016, the number stood at 600 million only. Now quality domains such as WordPress, eBay, and even the Washington Post have their blogs and articles hosted on AMP to better facilitate mobile visitors. And they are a small part of more than 900,000 domains who use AMPs. They are obviously enjoying some of these side effects of AMP:
- 7 percent of all internet traffic for some of USA’s most prominent publishers is coming from their AMP pages.
- Miami Herald also reported 10% higher dwell time for visitors who arrived via an AMP document.
- 90% of AMP users report higher engagement and viewability rates.
Installing AMPs and Progressive Web Apps is an excellent idea for websites that want to be ready for the release of Google’s mobile-first index. These services will come in a lot handier than trying to separate a mobile domain for your website, or even create a responsive website. The fact of the matter is that on AMP, mobile web pages load twice as fast as standard pages while also boasting of one-tenth the latency as a responsive mobile page.
AMP for WordPress – A Quick Guide
Are you interested in setting up Google AMP on a WordPress site?
You can find AMP plugins to make the installation of AMP easier for your WordPress site. However, it’s not like you can install the plugin, turn it on, and you have instant Accelerated Mobile Pages. Nope, it takes a bit of tweaking and fixing to get AMPs to show up just the way they should.
But yes, the actual integration should take no more than 5 minutes. These are steps to follow:
- Install the AMP WordPress plugin
- Activate the plugin – what it will do is append /amp on all your pages but what it won’t do is redirect mobile visitors to your /amp pages
- Edit the CSS – wp-content -> plugins -> amp -> template.php – to make your AMPs look and feel like they are a part of your site’s branding.
- The Yoast SEO AMP Glue plugin was mentioned earlier. Installing it will give you the facility to override the pre-installed metadata and help you bring together Yoast SEO capabilities together with AMPs for maximum effectiveness.
- Go to the SEO → AMP settings. This is where you’ll be able to upload a default image for articles and posts. Remember quality images matter on mobile too.
- Next, in the same settings menu, find the analytics tab, and add tracking code (specific to AMP) if you feel the need.
Once the AMP plugin is enabled, all the URLs for all articles and blog posts on your site will get an “amp” version that will be displayed to mobile visitors. These AMPs will display the site’s logo as you have set on the WordPress Theme Customizer. But the rest of the AMP is pretty sparse on the styling. If you are okay with this bare minimum styling, you are good to go. Otherwise, you will have to do some of the programming manually to enhance the style factor of your AMP documents.
The Last Word: AMPs Are Here to Stay!
If you are still unsure about the impact AMPs can have on publishing websites, consider these facts:
- 80% of all mobile data traffic will be from smartphones By 2020
- This 2016 study showed that 58 percent of all searches are carried out over mobile devices.
- Of all web pages that take more than 3 seconds to load, some 53 percent of web pages are abandoned instantaneously
Now despite all these fantastic numbers, the fact remains that actual, measurable SEO results are hard to come by for AMPS. But there are some amazing things to come. So hang in there, and keep your eyes open for new developments.
Sohail Rupani is a senior digital marketing strategist at PNC Digital, a Florida based digital media agency and a passionate blogger. He specializes in SEO and SEM techniques and has a particular interest in app development and tech industry. Sohail is also an active guest contributor to tech blogs and has written several SEO and digital marketing pieces for Appiskey – a Florida based website and mobile app Development Company. You can follow @sohailrupani for more updates.