🌩️ Should you AMP?

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AMP

We’ve turned the Web into a UX mess. Our sites are slow and they’re loaded with crappy ads that are desperate to get our attention. Google finally took notice and now they’re punishing us for it.

That punishment has come in the form of Accelerated Mobile Pages, aka AMP. AMP requires webmasters to make a copy of their content using AMP-specific markup and there’s no JavaScript allowed. While it does support ads and third-party content like tweets and videos, the overall presentation is tightly limited and controlled by Google. Oh, and it’s also hosted by them too.

Who benefits from AMP?

AMP is intended to benefit consumers. Consumers get a better user experience on their mobile devices, because content is delivered almost instantaneously and it’s in a format that isn’t incredibly annoying.

AMP also benefits Google. It does that by making their search engine the destination for an amazing user experience.

The big question we’re left with is whether or not sites benefit from AMP and if they should implement it? I spoke with Dave Davies, CEO and co-founder of Beanstalk Internet Marketing, and he said if you’re a publisher you don’t really have a choice but to implement it.

The question as to whether to adopt AMP or not is a fairly straight-forward one. If you are a publisher the answer is a hard “yes” and if you are not it is a soft “no”. The benefit of AMP presently comes in the form of additional visibility in Google in the carousels and there are numerous reported scenarios of great success for publishers. The Guardian for example now has 60% of its mobile traffic landing on AMP pages.

Dave did point out to me that The Guardian achieved this through great effort. He said they had to spend a considerable amount of time to get their ad view rates to perform similarly to their non-AMP mobile site. This is something that may not be practical for many or most publishers.

I also asked Kristine Schachinger, CEO and Founder of The Vetters Agency, about AMP for publishers, and she too expressed misgivings about it.

The issue is what AMP “giveth” it often “taketh” away. Due to AMP pages being hosted in Google’s cache, they often decrease visitors to your actual non-AMP pages. This results in reducing the pages viewed per session and time on site (among other things). AMP also decreases your revenue from ad placements. So if your site relies on advertising revenue, you should expect to see lower revenue values on the AMP pages, which can negate any positive from the increased traffic flow.

Regardless of their reservations, both Dave and Kristine told me that if you’re a publisher, you need to be using it. That also seems to be the consensus from most of the SEOs I’ve talked to so far about this.

Bottom line, publishers need to be using AMP.

How to optimize AMP pages

While it may be a bitter pill to swallow if you’re a publisher, it doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it. Similar to The Guardian’s ability to improve the performance of their AMP pages, there are several ways you can optimize the performance of your AMP pages.

  1. Be an affiliate marketer – I don’t mean become an affiliate marketer, but think like one when it comes to your AMP content. One of the things good affiliate marketers are great at is compelling the visitor to click on the links they want them to click on. If you want to increase visits to your site from Google hosted AMP pages, use the same tactics that affiliate marketers use.
  2. Save the best for last – Include most of your content in the AMP post, but not all of it. For example, right when the article gets to the best part, place a “Read More” link that will convert the reader into a visitor to your site. You can use an anchor name on your site as a bookmark that will jump the visitor to the conclusion of your post.
  3. Use everything AMP has to offerAMP‘s UX is minimalist by design, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Make sure you review all of AMP‘s documentation to find other opportunities to capture traffic. For example, take advantage of amp-sidebar to include a navigation menu to encourage readers to explore your site for more details.

What all sites should be doing

While AMP may not be for every site, there is something that all sites should be doing. They should be making fast sites.

Only a certain percentage of a site’s traffic comes from Google, so sites still need to be fast if they want more traffic and money. Even for publishers, AMP isn’t a panacea for slowness. If someone is coming from a Google hosted AMP page to a site that’s too slow, they’re going to bounce.

Forget AMP – Make Fast Sites! from Jon Henshaw

AMP Resources