With the increase in the number of mobile devices being used to search the web, it is necessary to develop new technologies to accommodate this. One of the latest of these is Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP for short.
We all use mobile devices to search for online content. As we know, the experience can be very varied. Some website owners have done a great job in optimising web pages for mobile devices, whereas other websites are impossible to be read.
One of the main issues that AMP will address is web page load speed. Even pages that have a nice, mobile-responsive design suffer from load speed. This is because many page elements are still loaded, even though they aren't seen or can't be used on a mobile device.
If you have a website, what do you need to know about Accelerate Mobile Pages?
What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?
Accelerate Mobile Pages is a name given to an open sourced project backed by Google. Its goal is to make mobile pages load extremely fast. This is achieved by using a form of HTML called AMP HTML. This is basically just HTML which has been stripped down. This means that pages are lightweight and don't require a lot of resources to load.
One way that load time is reduced is by requiring that all resources have width, height and layout properties specified beforehand. This greatly reduces the time needed to calculate the final layout. So, even if ads, audio, video, and images still have to load, they will render seamlessly and not affect user experience.
What you have to realise is that these are not just regular web pages that have been optimised for viewing on a mobile device. They are separate, specially constructed pages.
If a website owner then wants to make use of AMP, he will have to have 2 versions of each page – the regular HTML version and the AMP version.
It is good to remember that this is not a Google app. Although Google has backed the project, it is also supported by many other companies like Twitter, Wordpress, and other publishers.
How is AMP Different from Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News?
Actually, Google is just catching up with Facebook and Apple have already done. Facebook released Instant Articles which publishers can use to create content in an easy to read way within the Facebook mobile app. Apple released their News app which also shows news content in a way that can be easily read.
AMP is completely different in that it is completely web-based. So Accelerated Mobile Pages can be viewed without any app or software. The pages created are independent documents with are hosted on the publisher's server. The emphasis with AMP is more focused towards speed than having fancy styling elements.
Why Are Accelerated Mobile Pages Necessary?
HTML was designed to be used on desktops or laptops with larger screens than mobile devices. Those computers have much more processing power and the user will usually use a keyboard and a mouse to interact with the page. Mobile devices are completely different. They have much less processing power and large pages take longer to load.
Another factor why AMP is necessary for mobile devices is because of the third-party ads and analytics that are in websites. These add a lot of bulk when loading pages.
So, Accelerated Mobile Pages are necessary to speed up the loading time of web pages on mobiles.
What Can't Be Used in Accelerated Mobile Pages?
Because AMP is designed specifically for speed, there are some web page elements that can't be used. These are:
- Certain HTML tags
- Externally linked style sheets
- Element-level in-line styles
However, the omission of these elements shouldn't be something to be concerned about. What should matter on a page to be viewed on a mobile device is speed. Much thought has gone into what exactly is needed for a good mobile web page.
There are many elements that can still be included in AMP. For example, there are new AMP HTML tags to replace the ones that can't be used. Scalable Vector Graphics can still by styled by CSS.
Will my Ads Still Work?
It seems that one of the factors why AMP is set to take off amongst publishers is that ads can still be used. Because ads make page loading on mobiles a laborious task, many mobile users install ad-blockers. This results in a loss of revenue for publishers.
The good news is that when it comes to advertising and analytics, they work just the same as they would on a desktop version. So, the adverts from AdSense and other advertising platforms will show up in Accelerated Mobile Pages and you get all the revenue that you would normally get.
Do I have to use AMP for my Website?
Of course, no one will be forced to have AMP versions of their website pages. However, there are certain advantages to having them. One of these is the way that Google will index sites with Accelerated Mobile Page versions of the content.
When a person searches for information from a mobile device Google will link directly to the AMP version. Google also updated its algorithm to now include "mobile friendliness" in the way it ranks. They have stated that they will not give priority to AMP pages over non-pages. However, if mobile friendliness is a ranking factor and AMP pages are definitely mobile friendly, it doesn't take much to work out where things are going. Also, who knows what might change in the future as more and more people use mobile devices to search the internet.
If you want to create a good user experience for your website visitors, it makes sense to have AMP versions of your pages. By doing this you actually show your visitors that you care about them. This can, in turn, encourage them to continue using your site and return there.
Remember that mobile searches account for more internet traffic than desktop and more and more people are abandoning desktops altogether. When these users can choose between a website with an AMP version and a website without, it is obvious that the AMP version will win.
Time will tell how Accelerated Mobile Pages will determine mobile internet use.