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Accelerated mobile pages: Are they worth it?

 

Google’s mobile-first index has officially been unveiled and you may have received a notification from Google Search Console that some of your websites are officially being enrolled in the index.

The mobile first index takes precedence over Google’s traditional desktop index and will serve the most appropriate results based on the device being searched on.

This further incentivizes the need for webmasters to implement a fully responsive design that is personalized for users on any device.

Google has attempted to make this transition easier for webmasters by creating its open source initiative that leverages stripped down HTML files to create fast and mobile-friendly copies of webpages. These are referred to as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which are distinguished by a lightning bolt symbol in mobile search results.

The choice to adopt AMP for your website should seem obvious when considering these factors:

Webpage speed is a ranking factor of Google’s mobile and desktop indexes
A 1-second delay in web page speed can decrease conversions by as much as 7 percent (Kissmetrics)
AMP is rumored to be a ranking factor in their mobile first index (AMP was created by Google)
Yet, many webmasters are skeptical to adopt AMP on their website. But the AMP project is still not fully developed and continues to address concerns from webmasters who have had trouble correctly implementing AMP into their website.

 

I’d like to provide an update on where the AMP project stands today and whether it’s worth adopting for your own website.

AMP: Where are we now?
AMP tagged pages were initially introduced to compete with Facebook’s Instant Articles and only used for news carousel results over mobile devices. Nowadays, AMP results are scattered throughout organic search results, even though you might not notice it as a user.

Development of AMP for Ads and Landing Pages is not fully complete, although fast fetch rendering has made ads render faster than traditional Ads over Google, and gtag.js implementation connects AMP Ads to events in Analytics and Google Ads.

But AMP has become pretty popular across the world. AMP results are now used in the Baigu, Sogou, and Yahoo Japan. Hundreds of top publishers from around the world, including the Times of India and Slate, have adopted AMP to improve their organic search results.

Hundreds of top publishers have adopted AMP for all news and blog related content, and the number of domains that use AMP surpassed 31 million early last year.

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?
Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are essentially stripped down HTML copies of existing webpage content that offer faster load times than standard HTML5 documents. Websites can serve AMP pages by implementing the rel=amphtml tag into their HTML. Pages with AMP code contain a three-step AMP configuration.

HTML: A stripped down and unique markup of traditional HTML code with unique tags.
JS: Used to fetch resources and stripped down to eliminate unnecessary rendering.
CDN: An optimized network designed to cache pages and adapt them to AMP code immediately.
AMP also reduces the need for additional CSS requests and eliminates certain onpage eliminates, including bulky pictures, CTAs in many cases, and much more backend code. This has the effect of increasing speed greatly.

Primarily, AMP speeds up webpage load times by as much a second of total load speed by enabling AMP caching. Essentially, Google leverages this functionality by preloading AMP documents using a single iFrame in the background of a search results page so that pages appear to load instantaneously.

AMP documents can also be pulled from the AMP library directly off of its original server. The AMP library consists of a document with AMP HTML and AMP JS. Unfortunately, fetching these documents do not always provide instantaneous speed.