A Look at Google AMP Pages and the Future of SEO

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Google says it takes 8 seconds on average to load a page. The average person will close the tab, if the page takes more than 3 seconds to load. It’s no surprise then, that Google is invested in finding ways to make pages load faster.

In February 2016, Google unveiled a project that they have been working on for some time. Say hello to Google AMP – Or Accelerated Mobile Pages. In May 2015, Google was quoted saying that people now make more searches on mobile devices than desktop computers. It’s now being estimated too, that by 2017, approximately 87% of sales will be conducted via mobile devices. With that being said, AMP comes at just the right moment.

AMP is software that allows ‘publishers to create mobile optimized content’. Hence, now, instead of just seeing the most relevant news items when you make a Google search, you can now also get to see which sites are mobile page friendly. The good news is that, pages enabled by AMP reportedly load instantaneously! No more waiting!

It’s not just that these AMP pages load faster, but they even use less data. Now, that’s something to be happy about. This new technology has been endorsed and given a thumb up by one of Pinterest’s product engineer’s, Jon Parise, who has had nothing but good things to say about pages that load faster.

Jonathan Abrams, Nuzzel founder, is also someone who speaks highly of the new technology. He is impressed by the fact that it takes less than ½ second for the average page to now load, compared to the 3 seconds in days gone by. By the way, Jonathan Abrams isn’t your regular guy. He’s a seasoned veteran when it comes to using computers, and is someone who has tried almost every website speeding technology under the sun.

The Battle between the Publishers, Should We Go for Apple, Google or Facebook?

The tech industry is one heck of a cut-throat sector, and you simply have to be a tough nut to stay in the game. With that said, the three behemoths that have been dominating 21st century technology, Apple, Google and Facebook, have all been focused on designing the best mobile friendly websites that load easily and quickly for many years now.

These three have each released projects concerned with mobile publishing. You can check out Facebook’s Instant Articles here, and Apple’s Apple News here.

Google stands out from the other two companies because it offers its users the chance to access web pages directly. There’s no need to use an app.

This is good for publishers, who enjoy the freedom that comes with having their websites cached. Cached pages load faster because the pages have already been loaded prior to being opened. What this does is afford publishers greater control on their websites. It also means publishers are able to put payrolls on their websites – something Apple and Facebook are still trying to do.

Christian Cantrell, one of Adobe’s top Development Engineers had nothing good to say about Apple and Facebook’s News platforms. He called them, ‘fancy news aggregators’, or in other words, fancy platforms that aren’t really doing much.

It comes as no surprise then that most publishers are going with Google as their platform of choice. It’s not news that when it comes to websites and getting things up-to-date on anything website related, Google is the company to go with. Their customer care is excellent, and so is their team of engineers and leaders. Plus, who doesn’t love the fact that you can monetize your websites?

A Look into the Technical Side of AMP

To the average Joe, AMP is software that makes web pages load faster. However, is it really as simple as it sounds?

Well, to put it lightly, no. When Google works on a project it goes big or goes home. For this project they didn’t spare any developer. No, seriously. They had a team of 5000 developers on this AMP program, and mind you, these are not your rookie developers, but top notch, best in their league, seasoned developers.

At the end of the day, these guys have done a really great job, because it’s a win-win situation. Pages load faster on phones, yay! And Google makes a killing on faster loading ads. Perfect.

These 5000 developers, simplified life for all of us and have broken down the system into three really simple parts which are:

  • AMP HTML: Mobile friendly HTML that comes with AMP commands.
  • AMP JSJavascript system for mobile pages that allows external pages to load at different times.
  • AMP CDN (Content Delivery Network): caches all AMP-optimized content, making those pages load faster.

This is all great and dandy for the user and Google, but the publisher might have a slight problem with all of this. Publishers now find themselves with the role of having to now create two different web pages for their website. They need a page that loads for desktop use, and a page that is AMP-optimized for mobile users.

Google AMP vs Mobile SEO Optimisation

New developments are not always easy to grasp. After hearing about the AMP, many people might have asked themselves what to do about the money they had invested in mobile SEO for their websites. We can already hear many people asking if it’s worth it to invest in AMP.

Well, some statistics and facts for you to consider:

  • When it comes to Javascript tags, Desktop has 100+ tags, mobile devices have 60 tags and pages with AMP have 21 tags.
  • While it may be true that AMP pages show less design, they do however, load faster. This is because of the above tagging system. The page with the less tags loads faster, simple.

So, in the end, is it worth investing in Google AMP? Most definitely!

Finding Google AMP Mobile Optimized Websites

This can be a bit hard because not a lot of pages have been optimized using AMP just as yet. However, if you have time on your hands, a simple browse of some trending celebrity gossip or news should turn up a few AMP-optimized pages for you to enjoy.

Does AMP Have Any Authority When It Comes to Organic Search Results?

First and foremost, AMP isn’t a ranking system; hence it isn’t directly linked to all the things that affect organic search results.However, it does have an indirect impact due to clicks and can persuade people to click certain websites which can undoubtedly affect SEO. AMP’s positioning on SERPs, is also cause for concern as it will certainly cause leading pages to move slightly further down, which could affect the number of clicks a website is used to getting per month.

For now, Google hasn’t outright said that AMP will be used for rankings, but its use might be considered soon. With that said, this doesn’t take away from the work that publishers still have to put in when it comes to publishing content online.

Continue creating content with:

  • Great headlines which are engaging.
  • Awesome images which are original and inspiring.
  • A great introduction, because let’s be honest here, nothing beats a great introduction.

What about Paid Search Results? Will AMP Have an Effect?

We all know that Google makes their top dollar from selling ad space. The introduction of AMP is likely to increase the competition for that precious ad space. Faster loading times, means more ads can be viewed in any given time frame, hence more advertising dollars for Google.

It’s pretty well thought out really. Google has already released a statement that publishers will be able to access a range of ad formats if they chose to publish on AMP pages. Google summed up their AMP ad campaigns in four simple statements:

  • Safe: use of HTTPS will be mandatory on all ads.
  • Beautiful: who doesn’t want creative and innovative ads to view?
  • Quicker: speed won’t be an issue here.
  • Symbiosis: AMP ads will work alongside other market landscapes.

Google AMP’s Effect on Local Search Results

Local search results have not been spared by the release of AMP. It’s not 100% clear how Google’s AMP will affect local content. Click behavior however, is likely to play a crucial role in all of this.

Creating a Google AMP Page

If you want to learn how to create a Google AMP-optimized page the easy way, we suggest simply watching a Google tutorial. You will learn how to:

  • Make an AMP HTML file extension.
  • Add a picture.
  • Preview before launching the file.
  • Use Google’s validator to validate your work.
  • Prep before distribution.

Creating Google AMP Pages Using WordPress CMS

This is the beauty about using a content management system that is already designed, and all you have to do is download plugins and play. To be honest, when it comes to creating Google AMP pages in WordPress, it couldn’t be easier than 1, 2, 3.

Just follow the steps below:

  1. Simply download the relevant files from Github.
  2. In your WordPress website plugins area, select the ‘Add New’ option, then proceed to ‘Upload Plugin’.
  3. Upload the downloaded zip file from Github.
  4. Then, activate your new plugin.
  5. Check to see if your plugin is working before you exit out of your dashboard. Go to any article on your WordPress site and add /amp/ and see what happens.

Validating Your Pages

You’re not quite done. To validate your pages, follow the following steps:

  • Open your website in Google Chrome and add #development=1 at the end of each of your AMP blog post URL.
  • Right click. When the drop down menu appears, select ‘Inspect’.
  • Refresh the page.
  • Validation will be successful if you can see the confirmation under the ‘Console’ section.

Schema Markup

After validating all that, you’re still not done. You still need to ensure that the schema markup has also been validated. This is how you do it:

  • Copy your AMP blog post URL and put it here.
  • You might run into some problems with the logo, all you have to do is do some editing on the plugin. (Outsource if you don’t know what you are doing here).

Google Analytics

Validation from Google Analytics should not be omitted. Follow the steps below to validate on Google Analytics:

  1. In the top right panel, find amp-wp-master/includes/amp-post-template-actions.php
  2. Copy this script and add it at the end
  3. Your account should now have the name of your Google Analytics ID.

Conclusion

We all make searches using our phones. It might not be always, but we all do, even if it’s just the weather. You might be one of the people who does it more often than others. However, whichever device you prefer to use, Google is still going ahead with their plan to cater to the 50% who use their phones for most of their searches.

Regardless of whether you use a desktop or a laptop, you can appreciate that page loading speed is important. It’s something we all want, and think about subconsciously. Well, we will definitely be monitoring the course of events with AMP. We hope it lives up to its expectations.

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