So What's the Deal with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)?

It’s no secret that Google plays favorites.

Take mobile-optimized websites, for example: Google’s algorithm has long favored websites that are mobile-friendly based on what Google considers a “baseline standard” for web pages.

So when a new feature or technology comes along that can potentially help you make inroads with Google, content publishers want in. Perhaps that's why so many marketers have chosen to adopt AMPs.

While AMPs can lead to more visibility in Google searches, upgrading to AMPs is not necessarily a quick and easy marketing win. Here we’ll clear the air on many key questions that often come up with our clients: what is AMP? How, exactly, does it impact SEO? What are the pros and cons? And most importantly, is it a good fit for my marketing efforts?

The AMP Project and AMPs, Defined

First, the basics. What is AMP? AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. The AMP Project is an open source initiative that enables content publishers to create mobile pages that deliver content almost instantaneously, thereby creating a smooth and seamless user experience.

AMPs, then, refer to web pages themselves that are published in the AMP format. (More on that here.) Basically, they look like stripped-down versions of your site’s mobile pages. AMPs display the content that matters most (i.e., your blog post) and eliminate all the extras (i.e., ads or detailed navigation) that take a toll on your site’s speed and performance.

What Are the Benefits of AMPs to B2B Marketers?

In a word, speed. AMP pages are lightning-fast.

They load up to 30 times faster than the average normal load speed, making them near instantly accessible to viewers. And in digital marketing, that kind of speed can mean the difference between engagement and disinterest.

Consider the following statement from The Washington Post: “If our site takes a long time to load, it doesn’t matter how great our journalism is. Some people will leave the page before they see what’s there.”

Similar concerns over page speed need apply to B2B marketers who rely on blogs, case studies and other forms of content marketing to attract and convert leads. The bottom line is that visitors are not likely to trade in mere seconds of their time for the promise of great content, no matter how helpful or informative it may be.

AMPs cater to the ever-growing mobile audience.

For marketers, one reason driving the need for extreme speed (like that promised by AMPs) is the explosive growth of mobile viewers. By today’s standards, marketing for mobile readers is no longer a trend, it’s a staple. You probably don’t need any convincing on this front, but for good measure, here are some recent statistics:

  • Nearly 60 percent of searches now come from a mobile device. – Search Engine Land
  • 62 percent of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing. – Google

Fast-loading pages can rAMP up your metrics.

In addition to what’s mentioned above, it’s important to consider WHY fast-loading pages matter so much. Faster load times translate into a whole range of benefits that can produce measurable results for B2B content publishers, including:

  • Higher engagement – the more accessible your content, the better your chances it will be consumed or shared.
  • Decreased bounce rates – pages that load instantly reduce the chance of users getting impatient and giving up.
  • Increased conversions – an easy, friction-free experience means users are more likely to complete a desired action.

Do AMPs Improve Your Search Ranking?

This answer to this question is not a direct yes. Nor is it a direct no. Here’s the deal.

AMPs can have a positive influence on search ranking as a result of faster load times – perhaps in the same way any mobile-optimized pages would have a positive influence on your search ranking. Studies do suggest a correlation between AMP-formatted pages and increased traffic / better search rankings.

But make no mistake about it: using AMPs isn’t a magic shortcut to the top of Google search results. AMP on its own is not a ranking influencer. AMP’s ability to improve ranking has more to do with making your visitors happy by offering pages that deliver a smoother, higher-quality user experience. Good experiences lead to happy visitors; happy visitors lead to high-performing pages. And when these things happen, Google takes notice and rewards you.

What Are the Drawbacks of AMPs?

As you’re considering whether to use AMP formatting on your website, be sure you know what you’re trading in return for fast-loading pages.

  • Less functionality. AMPs are bare-bones versions of your site’s mobile pages. Because they eliminate all the page elements that slow down a page, they lack functionality. Online marketers will be limited in how they can code pages and may face restrictions in the functions they want to offer their users (for example, detailed navigation, search icons, breadcrumbing, etc.)
  • Compromised analytics. While AMPs do support Google Analytics, you may be required to go through and implement a different tag on all AMP pages. Depending on the number of pages you have, this can take some time and effort to figure out.
  • AMPs are mobile only. True, marketing is mobile-centric these days – but there are still a significant enough number of your readers using a desktop. There are certainly options for desktop users when it comes to viewing AMPs (for example, you can install an AMP reader for your browser or an extension called DetectAMP) – but keep in mind, you still run the risk of cutting out a portion of your desktop users.

Should You AMP-lify Your Website?

In terms of speed, the benefits of AMP are hard to ignore. A good place to start? Identify some pages on your site that are slow-loading (and therefore not performing well), upgrade those pages to AMPs and see if your page performance improves. It’s also best to focus on pages that are heavy on content but light on functionality, such as a blog post, case study, or long-form article.

However, if your goal is to drastically improve your Google search rankings, AMPs alone won’t get you there. According to Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers, “Your competitors might get a bit of extra visibility and may offer a better user experience, but neglecting AMP isn’t going to kill your chance of SEO success.” Instead, you may want to focus on these 6 (non-AMP) tips on how to improve you search ranking

Also, remember that if your content lacks value from the get-go, AMPs can’t save you from high bounce rates and disengaged users. Compelling, high-quality content that’s well-targeted for your readers always wins over speed.

Need us to help you evaluate a digital strategy that’s both speedy AND fool-proof on quality? We'd love to help! Just post your question in the comments below. Also, check out this helpful guide: 9 Things Your Website Is Doing to Drive Visitors Away.

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Allison Woodbury | Director of Content Operations
About the Author
Allison Woodbury, Director of Content Operations

Allison Woodbury has been a Content Marketer for PMG since 2016. She’s a content marketing, writing, social media and branding guru who spends her writing time alternating between getting in the shoes of her readers and scrutinizing super-niche industries. She loves to see what her readers like – so tell her what you want, what you really, really want (to read more of)!