Users will start to notice Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) appearing in search results, social networks and messaging apps over the next few weeks as they begin to gain traction and are shared more often. The Guardian have already been publishing their content as AMPs - you can test this by adding ‘/amp’ to the end of an URL for any article, and as of today Google have started displaying AMPs in their results.
What Are Accelerated Mobile Pages?
Mobile web browsing can be a slow and painful experience. But with the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages Project it doesn’t have to be. This project aims to solve the frustrating experience by making it easier for publishers to create content that loads instantly on mobile devices.
AMPs sit separately from your ‘normal’ HTML content and use a special syntax within the source code, which is designed for speed and leverages cloud-based caching as well as a pre-rendering mechanism.
AMPs require that a rel="amphtml" tag is placed in the header of the equivalent HTML page, this tells consumer platforms supporting the technology that an AMP version exists at the provided URL. To avoid duplication, the AMP then includes a rel="canonical" tag in the header pointing back to the HTML page. If there's only an AMP version of content available then it should just feature a canonical tag pointing to itself.
Diagram showing the link between AMP and HTML content
What are the Benefits of AMP?
The clear benefit for users is a much faster mobile web experience. AMP Project reports seeing Speed Index improvements of between 15% and 85%. You can find a live example of AMP content to test here, just visit that link on your mobile device and click any of the news articles.
For publishers, AMPs will mean a more attentive and engaged audience as they can navigate between content with ease. From a more forward-thinking perspective, if the technology becomes popular, users will become accustomed to AMP as a standard. Publishers that are fast to adopt will see a benefit from the extra traffic of users seeking AMP content as opposed to traditional web content on their mobile device.
In addition to this, AMPs will benefit from any future performance updates without having to make drastic overhauls to the source code. Improvements will be built into the way AMP technology renders the content as opposed to the way code is written.
What are the Drawbacks of AMP?
At present the functionality that AMPs grant publishers access to is limited, you can see a full comparison of features available in AMPs compared to HTML here. AMP Project have made it clear that these features will be expanding in the future but for now the focus is upon static content and ensuring that content containing predominantly text and imagery loads as fast as possible.
There is also an argument that AMP doesn't address the root problem of page load speed. As we're moving towards a responsive standard, where websites resize and adjust depending on the user's device size, it seems counterintuitive to revert back to having separate mobile pages as AMP is promoting.
Is AMP here to stay and should you adopt AMP for your content?
As with any new web technology, the adoption rates will be the key factor in deciding whether AMP is here to stay or not. Google have recently added AMP tracking to Google Analytics and webmasters can find an AMP section within Google Search Console. Other big digital brands like Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn are already backing the project so there is momentum behind the technology and it is well worth some serious consideration.
News publishers are an obvious adopter of this technology and will benefit from being quick to market with an AMP update. If you are regularly publishing content that is consumed by users on mobile devices then it is well worth considering this technology but the pros and cons will need to be reviewed on an individual basis in order to make an informed decision.
If there are any questions regarding AMP content, or on the development of your content according to AMP best practice, please get in touch with iProspect.