Why Your SEO Strategy Needs to Include Google’s AMP Project
When many people think of their SEO strategy, they often tend to focus more on site visibility rather than user experience. However, treating positive user experience as a top priority can be an effective way of driving both traffic and engagement—over time, getting your page the quality visits it needs to perform better on search engines.
Studies have shown that consumers have an impression made within 1/10th of a second upon visiting a page, which would indicate that site speed is pretty important! Think of it in terms of “real world” applications—do you know anyone who loves waiting in a long line at the bank or at a restaurant? Wait time can be a big deterrent for businesses, and the same is often true for websites. Users don’t like waiting for sites to load, and if the wait takes too long, they have thousands more to choose from. This is where the AMP Project (Accelerated Mobile Pages) comes in, which standardizes a mobile version of your site and gives your pages the on-the-go appeal necessary for mobile users.
Most people spend time on apps as opposed to the web because apps have a less cluttered interface and tend to perform faster. If your company doesn’t have an app, it can be hard to drive traffic to your site from the mobile web, especially if users perceive links from your site as slow loading. The question then becomes how to successfully get on-the-go users to visit sites, and the answer is generally through optimized content via AMP.
What is the AMP Project?
The goal of the AMP project, as stated by Google, is to “dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web” or load sites quickly on mobile devices. It’s an open source coding initiative that publishers or site administrators can implement once and, as a result, have optimized content load “instantly” everywhere. This is a big deal, because internet speeds and connection varies for on-the-go mobile users, so have pages that seem to render instantly facilitates an ideal user experience.
Here’s how it works:
There are 3 parts to AMP. First, there’s HTML, which is pretty much normal HTML, but with custom AMP properties that allow for the implementation of common patterns.
The third component is Google AMP Cache, which is a proxy-based delivery network for all valid AMP content. It fetches MAP HTML pages and caches them, which automatically improves page performance.
Who should use it?
Simply put, publishers—if you’re in the business of content, as in, you want and need users to be viewing the content you publish at a pretty constant rate, then you need AMP. Having clickable headlines and share-worthy content will mean next to nothing for your mobile using audience if the page won’t render!
It’s important to keep in mind that providing your content in a convenient and easy to navigate format is often more than half the battle—the most thoughtful and informative article in the world won’t do your readers much good if they have to go through an exceptional number of hoops in order to access it –unlike old-school publication, the dichotomy of successful publishing in the internet age is one that requires a successful balance between quality content and quality service.
What’s It Mean for SEO?
So will AMP pages impact your SEO? The answer to that question is no. But also yes. Earlier this year, a few days after Google officially launched AMP, Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller said "Is AMP a ranking signal? At the moment, it is not a ranking signal." Check out the 15:50 mark of the Google+ Hangout to listen to him talk about AMP.
You’ll probably notice that he goes on to discuss how using an AMP page will play into Google’s mobile friendliness factor. You’re not going to be penalized for having a non-AMP page, and you won’t get a boost simply by using AMP either. But what AMP will do is improve the performance of your site’s mobile version, which has a positive impact on mobile ranking factors.
There are a lot of signals that go into determining a page’s mobile friendliness, but page speed is one of the most important. In general, people have short attention spans and hate to wait. That impatience increases exponentially when people start using their smartphones: 40% of mobile internet users won’t wait for more than 3 seconds for a page to load. They make up their minds about your page in 50 milliseconds or less. Amazon famously discovered that every second of page load time cost them 1% of their total sales. Google’s mobile friendliness standard is for above the fold (ATF) content to render in one second or less.
So loading your page quickly matters.
For non-AMP pages, meeting the one-second ATF requirement is hard work: mobile devices have limited CPU and battery capacity, and after DNS lookups, TCP handshakes and HTTP requests and responses, you’ve got less than half that time to render your whole page. And that doesn’t even take mobile network latency into account. The whole reason Google created the AMP standard is to load pages as close to instantly as possible. This is one of AMP’s major advantages, and probably the biggest impact it will have on your mobile SEO.
Using an Accelerated Mobile Page is going to result in very low load times, up to 85% less than normal, according to Google. However, you also get the added bonus of getting your site stored in Google’s AMP Cache. Google stores AMP pages in a dedicated cache and validates and serves pages directly from there, cutting down load time even more.
AMP improves your site’s mobile user experience by connecting your content, brand and/or company to a user during a "micro-moment." What’s a micro-moment? Micro-moments are the instances in which a person spontaneously and automatically pick up their Internet-enabled device (normally their phone) to fulfill a current need. There are different kinds of micro-moments, each one impacting users’ expectations of and engagement with content.
Since AMP-enabled pages are all highly-structured in basically the same way, Google can quickly and easily determine relevance to a search keyword and, thanks to Hummingbird, search intent. If you’re using AMP for your page’s mobile version, you’ll have a leg up on other sites in connecting your content to customers at a time when they are most likely to place an order, visit a brick-and-mortar store or research a future purchase. Getting your content in front of a user at this moment is vital to building not only conversions, but brand awareness and loyalty as well.
Since AMP requires height, width and other aspect ratios to be strictly set, it knows ahead of time what your page should look like before anything starts rendering. This eliminates a major source of frustration: page elements jumping around the screen as various resources are loaded. Mobile users are no longer subjected to choppy, partially-rendered pages or having their content consumption interrupted by additional slow browser layout calculations. If you have problems with the loading of various page assets interfering with content consumption, an AMP page would allow a significant upgrade to your mobile user experience.
Additional Mobile Optimization
If you are in need of additional mobile optimization, the WooRank Website Reviews carry out a number of mobile performance checks, providing helpful information and suggestions about how to further improve the performance and rankability of your mobile experience.
Improvements to user experience can benefit your online business in many different ways:
Users will be able to consume more content, improving brand awareness and loyalty
Completing an online order is easier and faster, facilitating future purchases
Encouraging users to view more content, resulting in higher eCPM and ad loads
Connecting with your audience during micro-moments
These improvements themselves aren’t signals that Google takes into account when determining mobile search rankings. But they will directly impact on the signals Google does look at: bounce rate, click-through rate, page views and time spent on site.
While possible for you to see these benefits, along with increased page speed, through your own on and off page optimizations, using AMP streamlines the whole process and gives Google a strong hint that you have made these improvements. So even though Google’s not directly boosting AMP pages or punishing non-AMP pages, you can expect to see Accelerated Mobile Pages playing a large role in mobile SEO going forward.