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Accelerated Mobile Pages: Understanding the Do’s and Don’ts of Google’s AMP project

Google's AMP Project

The internet is, undoubtedly, a wild and fascinating place. Two clicks on a website and you’re likely to discover an entirely new world of riveting content. But two clicks to the left of uh-oh and you might find yourself staring at a forever-scrolling progress bar that tells you the webpage you’re looking for is just another five lightyears away (or so it feels like).

Or maybe you end up clicking random, unresponsive buttons haphazardly like a total madman only to realize that they seem to lead absolutely nowhere.

Now, transport this frenzied frustration to a device smaller than your laptop or PC – your smartphone. Things become that much more annoying when they’re miniature, don’t they?

Your fingers aimlessly tap-tap-tapping the screen, searching for a way out of the rabbit hole that this unbelievably slow loading screen has led you to… The internet doesn’t appear to be all that whimsical then, does it?

You probably end up rage-quitting the browser app and begin looking for the next new and wonderful thing to grab – and keep – your attention.

It is this vexing process that Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project is trying to get rid of for good.

But how, you ask? Let me take you on a journey, my friend, to the magical galaxy of the AMP ecosystem – which isn’t far, far away anymore.

As an open-source platform, Google’s AMP project brings together thousands of developers, publishers and websites, and distribution platforms and tech companies in order to publish lightning-fast, user-friendly, and just all-around easy-to-navigate webpages. So far, they’ve published about 1.5 billion webpages – and that number is only growing. The format is also supported by over a hundred industry-leading analytics, ad tech, and CMS providers, which makes it quick and simple for just about anyone to get cracking on their platform.

Ideally, that’s who should be using Google’s AMP initiative – just about anyone.

After all, no matter what kind of positively life-changing, revolutionary product you’re selling or content you’ve got on your website, if it loads far too slowly or is unresponsive, your users are going to navigate away from your site faster than a pop-up appears on a spam website.

However, AMP is best geared towards websites that rely on mobile traffic. Big players like Reddit, Twitter, and eBay are already using AMP, and smaller players are cropping up on the daily. If you’ve got users visiting your website, especially through mobile and you want to make sure they stay to check out what you’ve got to say or sell, AMP is probably the best tool to ensure you get the engagement results you and your brand are looking for.

Nonetheless, you may need to prep yourself to lose out on some ad revenue. Because AMP simplifies your webpage to create and publish a barebones version of it, it’s probably not the framework to use if you’re currently relying on ad revenue as a major source of your total income. AMPs get rid of all the junk that makes it harder for a user to stay committed to your content, so if you’re looking to up your engagement – increase your read-through rates or the average number of pages a user visits per session, for example – then this is definitely the tool for you.

While AMP may be straightforward to use, when it comes to utilizing the platform to standardize your website within the AMP framework, there are a couple of important principles you should keep in mind. With great speed and an even better user interface, comes great responsibility.

Therefore, here are some helpful dos and don’ts to guide you through the exciting and sometimes confusing journey of using Google’s AMP framework. Let us be your quirky interweb tour guide.

Please, keep your seatbelts fastened at all times and don’t feed the glitches.

Let’s start with the things you should certainly do when it comes to Google AMP.

1. Do use AMP when your mobile site is too slow.

Consider not how long your webpages take to load when a user is connected to wifi, but rather, when they are on the go with a shoddy 3G data connection.

On an underground subway. While running 12 other data-heavy apps in the background.

Okay, that’s an extreme case, but things may seem seamless when testing your website with a high-speed wifi connection though the reality of how your visitors experience your site can be very different.

If your website takes longer than 10 seconds to load, AMP can solve that for you. Through streamlining otherwise complex processes, such as font triggering and resource loading, and by limiting animations to only the GPU-accelerated kind, the framework can help reduce your users’ wait time.

2. Do make sure your website’s functionality can be replicated with AMP.

Let’s assume you have a blue banner with your company name at the top of your webpage and a white drop-down menu below it. When you use the AMP framework, does your website look the same? Or are elements of your original webpage missing?

Maintaining consistency in your brand is important and a third-party platform should not affect that. Not only will it impact a user’s ability to recognize and familiarize themselves with your brand, but this will negatively influence your website’s unique user return rate. In the pursuit of creating engaging content, it is imperative to remember the power of your brand.

Here’s what not to do.

1. Do not switch over to AMP to simply achieve better SERP visibility.

While an increase in your Search Engine Results Page visibility is one of the outcomes of using Google’s AMP tool (the ethicality of which is still under discussion), that should not be your sole reason to switch over from your current mobile tool.

Simply put, don’t cheat on a good thing that works just because you think there’s something better out there. Your visitors’ impressions of your website and its content should be your number one priority at all times, and it should never be sacrificed in order to superficially pump up the number of clicks or views your website receives on a Google search page.

Let your need for a better user experience drive your decision-making instead.

2. Do not forget to validate your AMP implementation with SEO crawlers before and after launching your webpage.

It’s been estimated that over 70 percent of the top content publishers across eight countries have AMP implementation errors. These errors include missing and invalid URLs, incorrect parent tags, missing mandatory attributes, but most commonly, disallowed and invalid attributes and tags.

There are lots of tools to help you do this, such as the AMP Google Validator extension. It’s critical that you perform this task as it is likely to affect your website’s SERP visibility and everything that comes with it.

If utilized effectively, AMP can be your webpage’s best friend.

The tool helps you

  • speed up website load time,
  • increases your website ranking on mobile,
  • and improves your server performance.

That’s a three-punch whammy right there.