Are smartphones and tablets the beginning of the end for stationary computers? Many developments confirm this, not just the increasing number of mobile search queries on Google. The mobile first approach follows this trend and places primary importance on creating mobile websites. A slimmer scope and more dynamic layout yield satisfy more than just smartphone users — they boost search result...
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) take mobile internet surfing to the next level. At least that is the idea behind Google’s recently published technology. This open source project is hosted on the platform GitHub (and will continue to be) and was created to rival similar services offered by the competition, such as Apple News (Apple) and Instant Articles (Facebook). In addition, the projects play a crucial role within the Digital News Initiative (DNI) by promoting digital journalism. How do these new mobile sites work? And who can use them?
What’s behind AMP?
One of the most important characteristics of modern web development is short loading times. Since a large portion of internet traffic now takes place on mobile devices and over a mobile data connection, web developers are constantly on the lookout for ways to optimise mobile display. Accelerated Mobile Pages offer static web content an alternative. These pages are characterised by a special HTML code, which Google refers to as AMP HTML. Articles programmed with this code are loaded in two steps:
- The elementary units of the page (the specified layout) begin to load directly after the user clicks
- Additional content such as text, images, and external resources start to load in the background, depending on the priority. This allows users to scroll through the text before the cover image has even loaded, for example
The HTML code of Accelerated Mobile Pages differs from that of regular HTML pages in that some default tags are replaced with AMP tags. This particularly applies to the labelling of multimedia content that only loads when the user requires it. In the AMP HTML code, for example, the tag <amp-img> appears in place of <img> for image integration. You can find a complete overview of the mobile Google page tags in the AMP project section on GitHub.
AMP JS library
Google AMP Cache
What does the use of accelerated mobile pages mean?
To date, Google has aimed its new weapon exclusively at newspaper publishers and blog platforms like WordPress or other operators. Websites using AMP include people.com, eonline.com, and cbsnews.com. Participants who are also listed in the Google Newsfeed have the following advantages through their mobile sites and through a Google search that’s customised to the AMP project:
- Better position in the news overview, since AMP articles are highlighted as ’top stories’
- Decreased bounce rate among mobile users due to quick loading of optimised news
- Better ranking for the website due to excellent mobile optimisation, even if the use of Accelerated Mobile Pages isn’t a direct ranking factor according to Google
Who is AMP suitable for?
Modern mobile sites play a crucial role in Google News, meaning all ambitious newspaper publishers and blog operators should see them as a necessary requirement. They benefit from more satisfied readers, a wider reach, and better Google reviews compared to those that don’t optimise their web presence. The workload involved is relatively low: WordPress offers bloggers the option to automatically switch to the AMP version of their website if their blogs are hosted by the WordPress company, Automattic. Switching is a piece of cake for self-hosted blogs with the help of the WordPress AMP plugin. In contrast to most Google services, Accelerated Mobile Pages doesn’t take control of user data, either. Only the cached version (in Google AMP Cache) is outsourced to the company’s server.
It is likely that Google will continue to support Accelerated Mobile Pages in the future, which means that this technology is necessary for everyone in the long run if they want to be found on Google. In combination with the excellent speed optimisation, mobile websites can be a very worthwhile option, especially when it comes to e-commerce: user experience when digital shopping on mobile devices is sure to become more advanced through the AMP technique.