Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Break Into Main Search Results

Why You Can No Longer Ignore Google AMP

Google AMP pages are live in core mobile search results. On August 2, Google announced it would be expanding the use of AMP HTML to non-news publishers, such as corporate and e-commerce websites. Moreover, it said it would display AMP pages within the main organic results on mobile devices.

Google AMP Effect on SEO

In its announcement, Google states, “This is not a ranking change for sites.” However, it’s hard to believe AMP won’t have the slightest effect on SEO, especially because Google AMP pages will be shown within the core results. Given that page speed is already a ranking factor for desktop SERPs—and soon for mobile as well—it’s likely Google will reward sites that have AMP-enabled pages.

What is AMP?

Accelerated mobile pages, or AMP for short, were first introduced in October 2015. AMP is stripped down HTML used to reduce page load time and thus create faster pages. Pages in the AMP format are restricted to a limited set of technical functionality. With this comes limited customizability, but a more standardized way of delivering content at lightning speed (hence, the lightning bolt).

It was first available to news publishers and made its first appearance in Google’s “Top Stories” carousel in February. Though, other websites have adopted AMP ahead of Google expanding it to non-news publishers. These websites include eBay, Reddit, 1-800-Flowers, and Food Network. Since its announcement of AMP, Google has indexed more than 600 million AMP documents thus far.

An example of a Google AMP page in both the Top Stories section and main search results.

Why Google AMP?

Faster Pages

There are several reasons why Google launched the open source initiative. The main reason was to cut down the time it takes for a page to load, especially on mobile devices.

Google says 40% of users will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. The average mobile page takes 8 seconds to load, which is also the same amount of time people lose concentration.

Google AMP pages are supposed to:

  • Load 4 times faster
  • Use 10 times less data

Lower Bounce Rate

Having low bounce rate is not only important to website owners, but to Google as well. When users exit out of a page because it takes too long to load, they either go back to the SERPs to click on a different website or abandon Google altogether.

By having AMP-coded pages that load in less than half a second and that keep users within its website, Google can prevent that situation and retain ad views.

Answer to Instant Articles

Some say the Google AMP project is an answer to Facebook’s Instant Articles. Facebook launched Instant Articles in May 2015. It’s similar to AMP in that it hosts content for publishers within its app, resulting in instant page loads.

So far, publishers have seen great success using it. Facebook reports that users are more than 70% less likely to abandon when they click on an Instant Article and 30% of them will share articles in that format.

Thwart App Usage

This might be a stretch, but I thought this was an interesting theory. Dovetailing off apps is the idea that Google is competing with Apple. Spotlight, the search engine within Apple devices, sifts through apps on a user’s phone rather than a browser.

“This sidesteps Google and puts more power in Apple’s hands and potentially tons of search advertising money in the long run,” says Abhinav Sharma.

To give you an idea of how much more time mobile users spend within apps than in browsers, Yahoo found that mobile users spend 90% of their time in apps versus 10% in browsers. Through AMP, Google hopes to protect its core business and keep users reliant on the mobile web.

With large corporations and well-known publishers already embracing Google AMP, it’s safe to say AMP-enabled documents will only proliferate. Expect to see more lightning bolt-imprinted pages in your mobile search results. If you haven’t already considered or experimented with AMP, now is the time to do it.

WordPress users can get started with AMP by downloading both the AMP plugin and Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP plugin. For non-WordPress developers, you can get the AMP HTML code on GitHub.