WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GOOGLE AMP

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle, most of us have gears we never use.”


This Charles M. Schulz quote is the thinking that The Google AMP Project is trying to blow out of the water.

The Google AMP Project makes your mobile web page load fast, like Flash superhero fast. Old Uncle Google says Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will load anywhere from 15 to 85% quicker than the non-AMP version of that page.

AMP is a stripped-down version of the mobile web, using AMP HTML, which takes out most of the elements which cause web pages to load slower on mobile. Say goodbye to multiple scripts for your mobile site designers. And you only have a very limited JavaScript library for developers to use.

Google apparently hates the idea of “fashion over function.”

But I said it’s fast right? Like Sonic The Hedgehog fast if you also added a booster to his butt. 

I mean how fast is fast?

The Google AMP Project is a way of making your content show up instantly on mobile devices. You may say “instantly” is a stretch. But AMP pages reached the key point in a webpage’s load where the HTML is fully downloaded in 0.857 seconds.

Let’s say we round up to one second for fun.

In just one second, more than 48,745 google searches will be performed; In just one second 4.3 people will be born; and in just one second 2,393,470 emails will be sent. So yes, a lot can happen in just one second.

In the literal blink of an eye (0.33 seconds), you can have useful information at your fingertips loaded on your phone or tablet.

Honestly, I can’t believe it has taken us this long to figure out how to make mobile load at these speeds. I mean, come on I need that Buzzfeed article on “19 Confused Puppies Learning About Water” to load while I’m waiting in line at the coffee shop.

How does Google AMP work?

Three parts make AMP so fast. These three parts are AMP HTML, AMP JS, AMP Cache. This gets a bit technical so stay with me here, I’ll not only make it quick but painless too.

AMP HTML

This super lightweight version of HTML is designed with a strictly defined set of pre-processing tags. These tags are mainly limited to text formatting and image embedding tags such as amp-ad, amp-embed, amp-img, amp-pixel, and amp-video. Just think of it as a simplified language.

AMP JS

AMP JS is a limited Javascript file. As in very limited, it loads all external resources in the background. This keeps render blocking from preventing your page from loading quickly. The actual words and images in the article will load last. AMP JS also grabs and pre-renders the content by predicting which DNS resources and connections will be needed. All of this is done to make the work for the mobile device easier.

AMP Cache

The AMP Content Delivery Network (AMP CDN), is Google’s system of servers helping you pre-load all the content you are trying to reach. Google places a pre-rendered copy of the AMP page on a server close to your location. Refreshing every time an article is updated or added the CDN cache stays updated. This is a way of having the article you want to pop up instantly by taking out the middleman of servers.

What does this mean for publishers?

First off you will be getting special treatment from Google for having an AMP-optimized site. Your new stories on the page will appear above non-AMP stories in a search.

Oh and you get a cool lightning bolt symbol next to your article, so you know you are AMP certified. Obviously, this is crucial because only the coolest kids get lightning bolts by their stories.

This is all sounds ideal for publishers right? But don’t run to your developers screaming for AMP mobile sites quite yet, there are a few catches. First off, if your readers decide to share a link to an AMP page they’ve clicked on through a Google search, the link points to Google.com and not your site. This happens because the content is coming from those AMP cache servers now.

Also as a publisher, you can’t get away with poorly-constructed HTML pages anymore. For publishers, this has positive and negative effects.  

On the positive, every page has to be free of errors before Google even puts it in the AMP caches. Meaning your page will load super fast.

The negative means that publishers will need to budget time and money to make sure you are constructing your pages with the AMP standards.

On top of all of this, there are no forms in AMP content. This means if your goal is to generate leads by inviting a reader to subscribe or submit his or her contact information, it will have to wait until AMP provides an upgrade. Meaning a lot of your inbound and content marketing strategies you are basing your business on might be missing an essential part using AMP pages.

So should I switch my mobile to Google AMP or not?

If you are publishing primarily long-form content, as in blogs posts, news articles, and lists, then you might want to start thinking about switching to AMP. If your primary goal is lead generation or e-commerce, you might hold off til there are some substantial upgrades to AMP.

If I’m a betting man, (I am, no seriously, let’s go to the casino right now,) there will be upgrades coming soon and consistently for the AMP platform.

Google knows users love content. On top of that, Google knows they love fast content. The faster you can get that content, the more of it you will consume. The more content you consume the more engagement you have with the publisher.

The bottom line is faster-loading articles improve the publisher/reader relationship. Speed is the most obvious benefit to publishers using AMP. That speed turns into more page views and fewer frustrated readers, which also translates to more sharing, and engagement with all that valuable content you are producing.

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