Google AMP: Ready Your Website, But Keep the Smartphone App (For Now)
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) Project — aimed at helping digital publishers optimize their content so that information loads instantly on mobile devices — has been one of the most closely watched SEO trends this year.
Since late 2015 when the search giant led a global group of digital publishers, technology companies and content platforms as diverse as the Washington Post, Twitter, Buzzfeed, the NFL and The Huffington Post in launching the open-source AMP initiative, Google has been front and center pushing AMP out and helping incentivize its adoption.
Does that mean it’s time for the rest of us, the websites, blogs and e-commerce sites of the world, to get serious about implementing AMP in our own content sharing and search optimization efforts?
We believe the answer is yes, and here’s a brief look at what that adoption process might look like if you publish content, operate an e-commerce portal or have existing mobile apps.
What Is AMP and Why Is It Important?
Now, flash back to Mobilegeddon in April 2015 when Google first flipped its mobile search engine results pages (SERPs) to favor responsive or mobile-friendly sites over all others.
Mobilegeddon turned out to have a tremendous impact on mobile search and Google views AMPs as the natural follow up to that update. We believe that the extent to which you adopt AMP will have a lasting positive or negative impact on your organic performance for mobile traffic.
In short, if you want to minimize load time and optimize your user experience for mobile users, it’s time to get on board now.
Google is Strongly Supporting AMP
Google has clearly put a robust support network into position. This past January, they added an AMP-relevant section to Google Search Console (GSC), renamed from the former Google Webmaster Tools to reflect the growing importance of mobile.
What’s more, in May, GSC expanded its coverage of AMPs to make it easier to spot errors, similar to the web page indexing and page error reports that have long been standard features on GSC.
And then in August, Google started sending out AMP-related messages right from GSC to notify webmasters when they could benefit from deploying AMP to pages that don’t already have it in place.
Is Your CMS Ready for AMP?
Our best guess is that Google will make AMPs even more of an algorithmic issue as we head into 2017, since they stand to offer a great deal of value in terms of customer satisfaction and overall website traffic retention.
But not all CMSs are created equal when it comes to beginning to make the transition to AMPs.
For example, WordPress now has better, more established AMP plugins to consider. Some, such as Automaticc’s version, with Glue for Yoast, connects the SEO features of your site to AMP without requiring any coding or hacking.
However, your CMS or custom-built website may not have ready-made plugins to simplify the process. At present, only WordPress, Drupal, Squarespace and smaller players Hatena and Marfeel support AMPs. Look for that to change in 2017 as more plug-ins are developed and more platforms adopt the AMP protocols.
But What About My Apps?
When making the decision to implement AMPs, the logical expectation is that mobile users will like your site, visit it more often and spend more time on it due to improved UX.
But what if your website currently relies on mobile apps built to get around mobile UX issues on your full website? Should you start planning for the demise of those mobile app and build AMP into your website itself?
This is a tough one. For blog posts, articles and similar ongoing content efforts, we may well see fewer apps built simply to facilitate reading those materials more conveniently. But that’s pretty much the majority of what AMP optimizes so far.
Speed and Simplicity
We are not at a point where other functionality, specifically around e-commerce transactions, is improved more than marginally on load time. There is still a need to have those processes available in a simplified format.
This should come as no surprise since AMP is built to improve load times and UX specifically for content. It is possible that the initiative will grow one day, and we can certainly ask these questions again when it expands.
Calibrating an AMPed Up Future
But, meanwhile, having AMP available won’t make apps completely obsolete. It could change what is included in a typical app, but I think we’re a long way from seeing apps fall out of favor completely.
So take advantage of AMP but don’t overestimate where it will take us in the coming months and years. We simply don’t know those answers yet.
And don’t worry about the need to start planning a migration from your iPhone and/or Android apps back to your native website. We are not even close to seeing that become an issue.
Tommy P. Landry has over 25 years of experience in marketing and business strategy at companies ranging in size from small startup to enterprise.