What Is Google Amp: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

 In Google, Web Development

When designing or creating your webpages, specifically on mobile devices, you’re likely to have come across the name “AMP” or “Google AMP.” In fact, some might have told you that it’s essential to use it if you want to get any kind of reach or search engine marketing out of your mobile website. But what’s the truth? What is Google AMP, how does it work, and who could make the best use of it? We’re going to explore all of that right here.

What is AMP?

Google AMP is a website publishing platform, or an “open-source HTML framework” as the site calls it. It was designed to help create web pages that load faster and work better on mobile devices and the project originally launched in 2016. In fact, Google’s goal with the platform is for pages to load instantly, eventually, with tests showing an average load time of 0.7 seconds for AMP pages, and 22 seconds for non-AMP pages.

AMP is short for “Accelerated Mobile Pages” and, while the website touts it as being open source, it is ostensibly a Google project, having been originated by Google, with over 90% developed by Google engineers, and with Google as its central platform, not to mention the primary reason to use it.

Web pages built through AMP are designed to serve as mobile-friendly alternatives to the pages already existing on the website, using their own URL, and work with the majority of popular web browsers, including Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari. The AMP pages are hosted not on your own web host, but directly on Google’s AMP Cache serves, which is part of the reason they load quicker.

As such, traditional link building efforts do not work with Google AMP as they do with your original web pages. Yet AMP has become even more important in mobile SEO efforts, as it’s now considered a ranking factor. Essentially, if you want your site to rank high on mobile device searches, you need to make sure that you have AMP versions of your web pages ready to go.

How AMP works

In practice, AMP is a writing tool working with HTML that offers a host of optimisations and restrictions that ensure better loading times for the website on mobile devices. Powered by JavaScript, and customised by CSS3, it offers a unified approach to web page design that’s stripped down and toned up. Loading time is further enhanced by above-the-fold prioritization, prerendering, fewer resource requests from the server due to smaller media file sizes, and the use of AMP Caching.

When the web page design is completed, rather than being uploaded to your own web host, it’s uploaded to the Google AMP cache. You use the AMP tool to submit or publish your site, and the cache stores the site, the fonts, and the images in one of two locations. When using the AMP platform to access content, it automatically updates the version that’s in the cache, ensuring that the AMP version is always used.

The cache helps pages load quicker, but it’s also used as a validation tool to ensure AMP sites are working, to limit media dimensions and sizes, to convert media to more mobile-friendly formats, and even to provide a secure channel and use of web security protocols for the website.

Being hosted on the AMP caches ostensibly means Google has oversight over those mobile-optimised pages, as well. As such, Google will immediately report issues with your search engine optimisation related to AMP, such as content, navigational features, social media plugins, and media carousels that are on the canonical site, but not on the AMP site. As such, users can quickly address those issues to ensure their AMP site is as optimised as possible.

Who is AMP for?

Speed is the primary appeal of Google AMP, including dramatically decreased load times in areas with low network connection speeds, such as on public or shared networks. Several of the largest sites across the internet have already adapted their websites and created AMP alternatives to their canonical pages, including Wired, Slate, CNBC, Vox, Verge, and many more. One of the common factors that you may have noticed about those websites is that it’s primarily used by online content publishers.

Indeed, the AMP format works great content publishers, who can work well within the restrictions of the platform, given the nature of their websites, and benefit from the added speed and search engine optimisation that the platform provides. Online content publishers aren’t the only ones using Google, however. Some ecommerce sites already have AMP powered pages available, as well, to help make navigating their stores all the easier on mobile platforms.

The close ties between Google AMP and search engine marketing results mean that it’s becoming more and more important to any website designers and builders who want to ensure their website reaches top ranking. Not only is having an AMP alternative to your site counted as a ranking factor by Google, but the end results of having a lower page load time and a mobile optimised website both other factors, making it triply effective as a mobile search marketing tool.

Should you use Google AMP?

Whether or not you should take the plunge and create AMP pages for the mobile version of your webpage is up to you. As mentioned, the platform might work best for online content publishers and ecommerce companies, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t also benefit from the advantages of increased page load speed and mobile optimisation that it offers.

AMP can be an effective arm of your digital marketing strategy, but it’s not the only one. To learn how to further optimise your digital marketing, check out the uThink1 blog or get in touch directly. From design and development to search engine optimisation, we can help you understand which tools and techniques can help you best achieve more clicks, more engagements, and more conversions for your website in particular. You can request a quote from us online or get in touch directly on 01376 773 000.

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