We’re living in a mobile-first world.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which was first launched by Google in October 2015, addresses these issues head on — aiming to make a better, faster web experience for mobile.
The project enables the easy creation of consistently fast, beautiful, and high-performing sites. We talked to web advocacy lead for AMP, Paul Bakaus about its performance and speed benefits and the future of the project.
Although AMP has only been around for a little over a year, its adoption has been swift. Today there are more than 600 million AMP pages in the Google Index from 700k domains in 230 countries and in 1,000 different languages.
At its most simple level, AMP strips down the web pages to make them super light and incredibly fast. While sites can achieve the same lightning-fast outcome by fine-tuning their sites manually, AMP automates the process making it easier to maintain over a long period of time.
“This includes things like enforcing a static layout so before any external assets have been noted, it can display the content quicker,” Bakaus said.
The biggest benefit of AMP, however, is that nothing can stop your content from loading on your page. This is increasingly important as studies have found that 53 percent of visits are abandoned if a site takes more than three seconds to load.
It’s important to note that AMP is not a ranking signal, but rather it takes the mobile-first standards and automatically applies them to the web page. This delivers a better user experience, but doesn’t necessarily mean that the pages are going to rank higher. Some have argued, however, that sites eligible for the top stories carousel have seen a boost in traffic, he said.
AMP does sacrifice flexibility for speed — but not as much as you’d think
The trade-off between flexibility and speed is one that has been noted by AMP critics since the project first launched. Although there is somewhat of a trade-off, it is drastically overestimated, Bakaus noted.
“There’s an assumption that all AMP pages must look the same, and that is absolutely not true,” he said. “There’s almost no limitation to how you can style AMP pages in terms of using CSS.”
While there are a number of AMP components available today to make pages more dynamic, limitations still exist. This means that if you want to add custom interactions to your page then AMP may not suite your needs.
The AMP team is continuously working to make content more dynamic, however, by identifying some of the most common uses and abstracting them in AMP components, which can easily be reused on your pages, Bakaus told Velocitize.
This trims off the weight of the page making it load faster without having to sacrifice the functionality. This also eases development workflows.
“By offering easily maintainable dynamic components, it is arguably easier to create a new site using AMP,” Bakaus said.”Because AMP provides the very high-level semantics, developers will only need to write HTML and CSS.”
AMP is not a content distribution platform, it’s a web page
Bakaus urges site owners not to think about AMP as a content distribution channel, but instead to consider it the mobile version of their web pages.
“AMP is built from the ground up with open web technologies, so if you publish an AMP page, it’s really a web page — you shouldn’t treat it as something else,” he said.
Bakaus emphasized the importance for developers to think about creating an AMP page the same way you would think about developing your site. “The assumption is now that the AMP page becomes your site and you need to treat it as such.”
If you’re enabling AMP or building your pages in AMP, you as a publisher are saying “this is my website for your mobile.” If you think about AMP as a side-project, and it doesn’t include the full functionality of the page, like comments or a side bar, then it’s probably not going to get as much traction.
AMP is targeting new verticals
As the AMP team continues to add dynamic components to the project, it opens the door to a new world of opportunity. Bakaus said that in the future we can expect to see AMP advertising to different verticals.
What has started as something for news and publishers, has now extended itself to other verticals, Bakaus emphasized. It now makes sense to use it for other types of sites. AMP has already started advertising to ecommerce, and will explore other verticals in the future as they continue to add dynamics components.
Bakaus’ website is actually built exclusively on AMP, meaning that there is no other version of his site. “My blog actually looked exactly the same before I converted it to AMP,” Bakaus said.
He intentionally designed it so that site visitors should not notice that it’s on AMP. This helps fight the notion that all AMP pages must look the same, and highlights its flexibility.
AMP for WordPress
There are several different tools and plugins that make it easy for sites to convert pages to AMP.
WordPress, the powerful CMS used by more than 27 percent of the internet, currently offers several different plugins for integrating AMP into your digital experiences — including the official AMP for WordPress plugin for technical implementation and Glue for Yoast SEO to ensure that meta has been implemented correctly and for easy customization of AMP pages.
To learn more about AMP for WordPress, check out WP Engine’s free webinar on AMP for WordPress on April 12 — featuring Yoast SEO’s Joost de Valk and WP Engine’s David Vogelpohl. Reserve your spot today to learn more about why AMP matters, the controversy behind it, considerations to implement AMP in WordPress and more.