The number of mobile only Internet users in the US exceeded desktop in 2014, and the gap is getting wider. This particular trend hasn’t escaped the notice of Google and Twitter, leading the companies to create the Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP project to make mobile pages much faster.
The initiative from Google and Twitter is in part a response to Facebook’s Instant Articles project and others like it that have developed ways to speed up access on mobile devices. But unlike the Facebook or Apple platforms, this is an open source project, which should encourage more content creators and developers to use AMP.
Currently AMP is used by leading publishers around the world, including BBC, Guardian News & Media, SPIEGEL ONLINE, The Financial Times, CBS News, CNN, Forbes, NFL, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and many others.
According to comScore, half of all US digital media consumption is being accessed on mobile devices. And the technology is also being used by today’s workforce and the businesses and organizations they work for, making fast access on mobile devices a key feature moving forward. So how is AMP going to improve the way your small business’ customers access your website with greater speed on mobile devices?
What is AMP?
Simply put, AMP is a barebones or stripped-down form of HTML which allows for pages to be designed for fast loading. This is achieved because the pages are for static content, thus they don’t require the same level of interaction from the user, and this makes the pages load faster than regular HTML.
In order to make AMP so fast, developers have to use streamlined versions of CSS, a style sheet language common in web design, and certain tags of HTML can’t be used. With these parameters in place, it leaves little space to do anything but let you read the content you are looking at quickly.
Even though the pages are static, rich media objects like video and social posts and display advertising can be embedded by developers with a growing library of web components, which includes analytics.
Google will also expedite the process because most of the content is going to be heavily cached for quick availability. The AMP format lets content producers make their files available to be cached by third parties. This not only gives publishers control of the content, but other platforms can cache or mirror the content so it can be delivered quickly to users. All of the AMPs are going to be cached by the Google AMP Cache at no cost.
The biggest application of AMP so far has been by publishers that want to serve their content quickly so their users can access it without having to click through to a website. An AMP enabled webpage is made available in the mobile results as a carousel above the rest of the results page.
For publishers that have valid AMP versions, it means their results will show above both the news and regular search results. An AMP version still requires a regular desktop version of the pages. Once it is marked with an AMP HTML link on your desktop page, Google is able to find it.
Benefits of AMP
The biggest benefit of AMP is the speed at which users can access your pages, eliminating the high bounce rates attributed to slow loading pages. For publishers that rely on delivering the latest news or other types of content, AMP could be a great value proposition.
Additionally, it promotes greater distribution so publishers can make the content available everywhere much quicker across platforms and applications. For companies that rely on revenue from ads or subscriptions, AMP also seems to have great potential.
Can anyone accelerate their mobile pages?
The beauty of the open project is that it is available to anyone, including publishers, consumer platforms and creators. So if you want to increase the visibility of your small business website on mobile, AMP may be one option to consider.
The goal of the project is to allow publishers to use AMP to improve mobile access to news stories, videos, blogs, photographs and GIFs.
Getting content into AMP HTML
The AMP project is built with existing web technologies, which means the development process is like the one already used by many publishers. If you’re not familiar with HTML or you’re not a developer, Content Management Systems (CMS) have plugins that generate AMP content automatically.
The WordPress AMP plugin creates dynamically generated AMP-compatible versions of all the posts on your site. This is a great way to try AMP for your business without having to invest any money.
Advertising and monetization on AMP
Publishers control their own ad inventory with their existing website, and AMP also supports subscriptions and paywalls allowing publishers to regulate the viewing experience for subscribers, metered users and anonymous users.
As for analytics, according to Google the analytics support in the demo release of AMP is very limited, but publishers do get credit for the traffic from a measurement perspective. Google goes on to say, it expects support for collection of analytics information. Third party systems and analytics providers are participating in the project to deliver solutions without compromising the AMP file speed or size.
The fact is more than half (53 percent) of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load. And with the average load time for mobile sites over 3G connections taking 19 seconds, the numbers just don’t add up. Add to that mobile sites that load in five seconds or less earn twice the mobile ad revenue as those that load in 19 seconds.
No matter how you crunch the numbers, faster means better all around, which makes AMP a necessary tool for businesses of any size looking to improve the experience of their users on mobile.