AMP’s – What You Need to Know
- Google’s implementation of accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) raises questions about user experience.
- Web pages to now load four times faster on mobile devices than ever before.
- The AMP Project website launched by Google to keep us up to date on the AMP strategy.
- Websites with slow loading time will face consequences.
- AMPs and improved user experience to have a significant impact on business.
The way we search with Google on mobile devices has changed over the years.
There have been a lot of questions surrounding the implementation of accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) since their announcement in October 2015. But has Google’s hard work been for the better? Has the entire mobile-using populous really needed Google to offer accelerated mobile pages? Questions about the impact on user experience may be staying with us for far longer than just this week’s official launch.
What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?
In short, AMPs are exactly what their name suggests. Google converts web pages to a condensed, light form of HTML called AMP HTML. This new form of coding means that fewer images and third party scripts are displayed, creating a web page that loads four times faster on mobile devices than before.
A click to an AMP optimised web page loads nearly instantaneously. Google hopes that this will be the improvement on mobile loading speeds which many users have been waiting for.
The AMP Project website was established by Google alongside the original plan announcement to inform businesses and the wider public of this innovative new strategy for mobile web optimisation and was backed by companies including Twitter and WordPress. Since the concept was released to the web four months ago, AMP has evolved and become a potential competitor for one of the best user experience improvements to date.
Google also demotes websites which are slow to load, deeming them unnecessary for a user’s searches. User experience is of high importance on Google’s list of determining factors when it comes to ranking websites for searches – and AMP pages get a ranking boost.
Having a website which is slow to load will cause you to have more than just some negative feedback and ranks. In fact, 40% of web users would not re-visit an e-commerce web page that does not load quickly enough. Can you afford to let your user base decrease?
Instant Loading, No More Moaning
Google’s main argument for introducing AMPs was, simply, that pages were not loading on mobile devices fast enough for users to obtain information. A study found that most people would not return to a website if it took much longer than only 4 seconds to load.
Depending on internet connection speeds, some websites boast loading times of less than a second, so it is no wonder many high profile websites have turned to Google’s AMP HTML formatting to target mobile users and improve website traffic.
Stressing a need for ease of access to information, accelerated mobile pages have been urged towards news sites for faster browsing experiences. Since the launch of the final AMP format, a Google search on a mobile device will display faster AMPs before all other ranking pages.
This targeting could start to see non-AMP pages falling behind in rankings and draw away users to those that are. Time will tell if the full transition that the AMP Project aims to have across all types of web page will have any effect on future rankings. Loading speed, at the very least, is prioritised for the benefit of the user, not the website.
The most common complaint a website receives is how slow it is. Alongside how often users abandon slow-moving websites, there is little argument that user experience has needed an improvement for mobile browsing.
Then again, do all websites truly need to have AMP HTML formats?
Ease of Access to Information
The number one priority of Google has been effectively targeted: access to information. Search for any news website on your mobile device and you will have immediate access to the latest news stories in less time than it takes to say the word ‘Go’. Users on their morning commute will likely appreciate this the most. A quick pause for a coffee, too, and your reading material is at your fingertips. Not a bad place to start for a very impressive large-scale project.
Changing to the AMP format will undoubtedly cause a stir among users who frequent Google, but there is the potential for it to be overwhelmingly positive for those complaining most about the lack of ease when it comes to accessing valuable information.
Stripped-Down Coding Implementation
There is no argument that there has been a need for users to see developments in mobile technology. This is the first visible alteration to Google searches on mobile devices that have targeted device speeds in recent years. In fact, users may be unaware that Google has implemented many changes at all in the past.
Consumerism and mobile browsing habits indicates that mobile users require a faster and smoother experience. However, this is nothing that will drastically change user experience (Twitter and Facebook have had quite a deal of criticism over their sudden layout changes over time).
Nevertheless, the changes to search engines and web pages are needed as user experience has developed to a point where consumers demand more.
Considering different user experience requirements, no, not every website needs AMP HTML. The fact that an AMP page is created not to have more coding than is necessary, such as simple HTML text and links, removes the possibility for further user interaction than scrolling through to another page. This is perfect for article-based news websites, but what of e-commerce?
Limited E-Commerce Availability for Consumers
Users wanting to buy items online will find nothing to celebrate in the form of any changes to their mobile browsing habits. Unless the page they are looking for is a product review article, there are no current opportunities for faster mobile browsing on websites which require user input beyond a click or two. Google are working to implement this faster browsing experience across more companies to benefit the growing needs of the internet community.
What this may mean in future is users being able to load websites supplying users with more than articles almost instantly.
The UK has 65.5% of the population shopping online, so it seems a natural transition for the project to take. Considering users are not simply wanting information and need products and other specific services, Google will need to tailor their coding to become more inclusive of various user needs to make a more well-rounded user experience.
What do AMPs and improved user experiences mean for businesses?
User experience is important for casual browsing, that much is for certain. However, when considering the businesses behind the websites, there are significant advantages there too. By improving upon user experience, there can be more opportunities for advertising. Recently Google has just changed how we see ads on the desktop and mobile.
Increased mobile page load speeds will also increase advertiser’s confidence in online advertising platforms such as Google Adwords. Small improvements and testing obviously all add up and therefore increase user experience.
Pages are still able to promote other content in the form of advertisements. Content discovery platforms such as Taboola and Outbrain have both backed the project since its inception, giving good incentives for websites to continue to promote content.
User experience’s effect on a page’s traffic is significant enough that, in the eventuality of users visiting an AMP, other businesses can continue to see positive growth through native advertising. Increased traffic to AMPs can increase advertisement visibility. This is great news for companies who cannot yet use AMPs.
User Experience On the Rise
There is no doubt that the implementation of AMPs across the web will have a drastic effect on user experience in the coming months and years. A demand for bigger, better, and faster seems to consistently dominate technology and Google has become all too aware of its own size and influence on the way we browse.
AMPs seem to be the next evolutionary step for mobile optimisation, but one question remains: what happens when browser speeds are as fast as they can be? That is a challenge for developers to find out.
Head of SEO & Paid Search at Smarter Digital Marketing – Brian Lonsdale is dedicated to delivering a strong ROI to local businesses and large brands.