If you had to guess, would you be able to say how many mobile users are browsing the web today?
In the modern web, mobile is rising to dominance. According to gs.statcounter.com, more than 48% of devices browsing the Internet are mobile devices. Desktop users rank slightly lower, while tablets form up less than 10%.
What can we learn from these stats? Mobile users are crucial. You ignore them at your own peril.
Since Google’s Mobilegeddon in April 2015, there’s more and more tools aiming to improve the web experience of mobile users. One of them is Google’s AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages.
If you want to stay competitive on the mobile market, you should know about AMP.
In this post, I’ll present what AMP is, how it works, and why you should care about AMP in general. I’ll also present some AMP examples and, to keep things from getting too sweet, some disadvantages of this solution. We'll take a look at the future of AMP as well.
Let’s get started!
What is AMP?
AMP (which stands for Accelerated Mobile Page) is an open source project backed by Google. Its purpose is to speed up how fast webpage content is displayed to mobile users.
To enjoy the advantages of AMP, your website needs to meet certain requirements set by Google. Once the requirements are met, your users will enjoy a website that loads almost instantly on phones because its content is optimized and served directly via Google’s servers.
How much faster are we talking here?
In early tests, we found that AMP pages load four times faster and use eight times less data than traditional mobile-optimized pages.
Jon Parise, product manager at Pinterest
An AMP consists of three elements:
- AMP HTML - a subset of HTML tags optimized for AMP Pages
- AMP CDN - a Content Delivery Manager responsible for delivering all documents to the AMP Page.
How AMP works:
Google’s crawler comes to a website to scan the website for content.
The crawler finds a special link to the AMP version of the website. Thanks to that, it knows that the static version of the website for mobile devices is available at a different URL address.
After that, Google scans the AMP version of the website, saves a static version of it and uploads it to its own server.
After the upload is complete, mobile users can find the AMP version of the website via through the search engine or Google Cards.
So in essence, implementing AMP requires you to create a specially optimized version of your website that will make the mobile user’s experience smooth as butter.
Why should you care about AMP?
If your target users are people using mobiles devices, AMP is definitely going to help you.
The same applies if the business you are running consists of static pages or has a blog-like structure.
Due to the speed of AMP, it improves your website SEO ranking, since load time is an important factor for SEO.
Additionally, users searching for information through Google can see that a particular page is an AMP Page, indicated by a lightning bolt icon. They expect AMPs to load almost instantly, making them more willing to click on the article.
AMP limitations and disadvantages
As with anything, AMP is not perfect and has its downsides:
- Even though ads are supported by AMP, their implementation is somewhat different, which requires developers to learn and develop the website correctly,
- Your servers might see less load, but that is only because AMP is hosted by Google,
- The page load speed is great, but it’s affected by the cache provided by Google and is highly reliant on that mechanism, whether you like it or not.
However, as we'll see in the next section, a range of popular pages have decided that the AMP tradeoff is worth it for them.
AMP pages - examples
More and more websites are deciding to implement AMP. Here are just a few examples:
- CNBC - British financial and business TV station,
- The Washington Post - American newspaper,
- The Verge - technology journalism portal, (read about it here)
- The Guardian - British newspaper (read about it here)
- Gizmodo - design, tech and sci-fi website (highlighted in the AMP Project portfolio)
- Finally, Wordpress.com implemented AMP automatically for all of its sites.
The list goes on, and grows day by day. Feel free to use our comments section to share any interesting examples you've come across.
How to get started with AMP?
It’s pretty simple. To start using AMP on your website, the developers have to create a static page using AMP syntax and link to it using the <link rel=”amphtml”> tag.
Google provides a pretty cool AMP tutorial, accessible here.
The future of AMP
What’s in store for AMP in the future?
Our wager is that the trend will continue to grow in popularity. One reason is that it will be adopted by a wider variety of websites.
“Although Google AMP was initially made available for publishers, it will be available for all types of websites soon,” says Erin Feldman at unamo.com. “In the not too distant future, all kinds of apps and websites will be AMPed.”
And if you’re still sceptical, you can turn to Richard Gingras, head of news and social products at Google. In a February 2016 interview, he lays out the plans for AMP (via Nieman Lab):
AMP is not just about news and not just about articles. That was our initial focus. I see applications across a whole spectrum of web experiences, from e-commerce sites to the landing pages for an ad.
Richard Gingras, head of news and social products at Google
And you can expect Google to keep pushing AMP for wider and wider adoption. If there’s anything to learn from Google’s history, it’s that you should rather follow what the search giant is doing rather than be left abandoned and unranked in its wake.
Let’s summarize what we’ve learned:
- The stats show that mobile web traffic is more important than ever, and catering to mobile users is a no-brainer.
- AMP is a way to attract and retain mobile traffic with better page performance and better SEO.
- AMP is not perfect though, because you become reliant on Google’s servers and you need to meet Google’s AMP requirements that can affect the way your page serves ads.
- AMP is becoming more widely adopted, with pages such as CNBC, the Washington Post and the Verge following the trend.
- The future of AMP is bright. Initially geared mainly towards publishers, it is bound to be more widely adopted by all kinds of websites in the months to come.
In the end, AMP is just another way to make the life of your users easier when they visit your website. It’s worth putting in the effort to help them have a smooth experience.
Thanks for reading my article! Hope it has been helpful. If you want to read more, make sure to check out some our other posts: