GOOGLE AMP: THE ACCELERATED FUTURE OF MOBILE WEBSITES

programming Posted on Apr 10, 2017

In today's fast-paced world, the ideal mobile experience is when pages always load correctly for the first time, browsing the Web doesn't drain the battery and monthly data limits, and the content is free from mobile-hostile ads. That's why it's not surprising that Google, Apple and Facebook decided it was time to create the grounds for a fast, content-centered mobile experience.

Facebook and Apple have both taken a closed platform approach by creating Facebook Instant and Apple News. But closed platforms are off-limits to Googlebot and therefore unavailable for ad sales. That's why Google started an open-source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). The aim of the project is to improve the Web for all users and make mobile pages load instantly while keeping them within Google's economy.

How Can Publisher Benefit from AMP

Publishers can greatly benefit from AMP thanks to its user-centric approach that offers the following advantages:

FAST LOADING SPEED

AMP is focused on speed. The pages literally load in under one second, which increases engagement and reduces bounce rates.

BETTER USER EXPERIENCE

AMP is built using responsive design from the ground up. Combined with instantaneous page loading speed, the overall user experience is much better than the one offered by frustratingly slow non-AMP websites. This plays a key role in boosting user retention.

IMPROVED SEARCH ENGINE RANKING

While Google's John Mueller officially stated that AMP was not a ranking factor, mobile friendliness and page load speed are. As AMP greatly improves page loading time and is inherently responsive, it is highly likely that a website developed with AMP will be rewarded with a higher ranking than slower and unresponsive websites.

INCREASED VISIBILITY FOR PUBLISHERS

AMP websites are clearly visible in search results thanks to the green AMP icons next to them. That has the potential to improve click through rates because the websites stand out in the search results. In addition, more and more mobile users consciously look for AMP pages as they seek faster loading times.

AMP Limitations to Consider

Unfortunately, the lightning-fast speed comes at a price. The AMP mark-up is a stripped down version of standard HTML and there are some significant limitations affecting the coding of a valid AMP page. These limitations are as follows:

  • Only asynchronous scripts are allowed
  • All CSS must be in-lined in the head section of the page
  • Styles are limited to 50KB per page
  • External resources like images, ads and videos must state their size in HTML
  • All JavaScript must be out of critical render path
  • No user-written JavaScript is allowed as only AMP components are supported
  • Fonts must be loaded with a link tag or a CSS @font-face rule

Those familiar with Google PageSpeed Insights guidelines will immediately see that AMP not only follows them to a T, but also made most of them a requirement.

Developing AMP websites offers great benefits. But like every new technology that has strict requirements, it poses some challenges. We will cover the main steps of developing an AMP page, creating an AMP version of an existing site and making your AMP site discoverable by the search engines in our next post.

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