Google’s continuing drive to provide their users with faster loading, mobile-friendly websites has taken a new twist with the launch of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP is an important innovation that lets mobile users access website content at blisteringly fast speed. For WordPress users, AMP is not something you can ignore: take advantage of it and you are likely to see your mobile rankings rise; however, it’s not without its issues. In this post, we will take a closer look at Accelerated Mobile Pages and the implications it has for WordPress users.
What is Accelerated Mobile Pages?
Accelerated Mobile Pages is a Google project that aims to make static content load almost instantaneously on mobile devices. Google’s motivation for this comes from the shift in the way people now search the internet. In the UK, 66% of our surfing is done on mobile devices and as you’re probably aware, much of this is hampered by frustratingly slow downloads caused by low-quality Wi-Fi hotspots or poor network connections.
Quite rightly, Google refuses to accept this poor user experience as the norm, but as it can’t singlehandedly create the necessary network infrastructure, its only solution is to ‘encourage’ webmasters to create content that will load quicker. AMP achieves this by helping us squeeze every unnecessary byte of data out of our web pages.
How does AMP work?
How does AMP impact web pages?
This is not totally bad news. When you use AMP, you actually create an alternative version of your existing web page. The AMP page is only served to mobile devices; your non-AMP version will still be served to users on PC and laptops. If you have essential content which can’t be served as an AMP page, you don’t have to create an AMP version of it and mobile users will still be able to access it.
Why is AMP important for WordPress Users?
Essentially, AMP is for simple, static web pages where the focus is very much on content. In other words: blogs, news and general web pages that are frequently found on WordPress sites. Bearing in mind that WordPress is the world’s most used platform and that its reliance on plugins has long been an issue when it comes to loading times, it looks as if AMP has been created with the intention of speeding the platform up.
How will AMP affect WordPress Users?
The fact that Google already uses mobile-friendliness and page speed as ranking factors should give WordPress users a clear indication that using AMP is going to be an expectation, especially for sites with lots of static content.
Early adopters of AMP will no doubt see their mobile rankings much boosted and this will give them a distinct advantage over their competitors. It won’t take long, though, for algorithm analysts and SEO authorities to put AMP near the top of everyone’s to-do list.
With this in mind, if you have a WordPress site, then Accelerated Mobile Pages really aren’t an option you can afford to ignore and the sooner you implement AMP the better.
How can you use AMP on your website?
If you have lots of static content and want to employ Accelerated Mobile Pages, you will need to create alternative AMP versions of your posts and link to them by putting rel=amphtml in the header. Doing this enables Google to find, cache and serve the posts to mobiles.
The good news for WordPress users is that you can install a plugin (see below) that will create AMP pages automatically for you.
How to implement Accelerated Mobile Pages on your WordPress site
With 27% of the world’s websites built using WordPress, it’s no surprise that there is an official Google plugin for Accelerated Mobile Pages. This is good news indeed, because implementing AMP manually can be a challenging process.
The Google AMP plugin, which is free and can be installed directly from your Admin Panel, works by automatically generating AMP versions of your posts. It’s exceptionally easy to use – all you have to do is install and activate it and you’re done – the process is completed.
Once activated, you should view your posts on a mobile device to make sure that they are working and displaying in a way that is acceptable. You can also access AMP posts on non-mobile devices simply by adding /amp/ to your existing URLs, for example, mysite.com/post-title/amp/
Another test you should run is to do a before and after speed test, using Google PageSpeed Insights, to see how mobile performance has been improved by AMP.
Issues with the AMP plugin
As we mentioned in the introduction, AMP is not without its issues and here are two that you need to consider. Firstly, at the moment, the plugin only works with posts; it doesn’t cater for pages and custom-post-types. This is probably because much of the content that can be speeded up on WordPress is to be found in posts. However, it probably won’t take long for other developers to bring our plugins or extensions which cater for other content types.
The other issue is APM’s CSS limitation – there is only one style available, which might not be to everyone’s liking as it means many of the pages it serves will look pretty much the same. However, there is another plugin from the highly respected Yoast team, Glue for Yoast SEO and AMP, that lets you customise the styling of your AMP posts whilst optimising them for SEO and enabling you to link them to Google Analytics at the same time.
Accelerated Mobile Pages is both good news and bad news for WordPress users. The good news is that if you opt to use the plugin and create AMP versions of your pages, they will load much faster on mobile devices. This will no doubt give you a big thumbs-up from both users and the guys in the Google algorithm team and it may even boost your mobile rankings. What’s far more likely is that if you don’t use them then your mobile rankings will suffer.
The bad news, at least for the time being, is that the bells and whistles you’ve added to your content to make it unique, fancy fonts and flashy forms, et al, aren’t going to feature much on mobile screens.
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