As you already know, Google
influences runs our lives. As web designers, web developers, content editors, online managers, system admins — basically anyone working on the web — we are often at the whim of decisions made at Google. Some good, some bad, and some perplexing. As users, we put a lot of faith trust in Google and often don’t even realize the scale of that trust. We can get into the good, the bad and ugly of Google, but we’ll save that for another post.
Often it’s difficult to determine what we need to implement, what we need to pay attention to and what will probably die out and become obsolete without warning (ie goodbye Google Site Search and Google +). In this round, we’re going to explore Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
Let’s dive in.
What is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)?
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an attempt by Google to make news and blog stories load faster on mobile devices — essentially making articles and news items appear to load instantly. It removes all the “fluff” of web pages and zeros in on the content.
AMP standardizes the way content is loaded on a mobile browser — “content is King and user experience is Queen.”
You have probably already seen AMP web pages if you’ve ever searched on Google in your mobile device, they look something like the below — essentially a card style of latest news stories around a topic with an image. When clicked, they open instantaneously and allow you to still swipe left and right through the other related stories/ articles.
Do I need Google AMP?
If you run a news website or a blog that posts regularly (like daily or potentially weekly), then yes you should look into implementing AMP. If not, then it’s not necessary. But nonetheless, the message is clear — load time is critical on mobile devices and if nothing else this should get you thinking about how you can load your content faster and more streamlined — again that mobile first approach.
Why do I need Google AMP?
It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Haphazardly introduced in early 2016, AMP has matured and it’s been fully embraced by Google. If you try to implement everything Google does, often you’ll find yourself running around with your head cut off, but it’s now obvious that AMP is sticking around and as online content creators we need to pay attention.
From the standpoint of the user: it makes content load faster and in a well-organized and standardized format.
From the standpoint of the publisher, they get their content featured on Google (well sort of) and it loads faster, and faster page loads mean more people actually read your content.
Setting Up Google AMP
We won’t go into all the details, but the crux of it is that you build a secondary page that is a stripped down version of the main web page. For instance, if you have a web page that is an article titled “How to dig a hole to China” on your blog, you would create a secondary page that is just for Google AMP — same title and content, but no design, no header, no footer, no fancy menus, no form to lead, no popups, etc. — stripped to the essential content. Think web pages pre 2000. But Google does give you some pretty cool options and components for setting up your Google AMP pages — carousels, video, Facebook cards, etc.
The Google AMP Project has a variety of documentation that walks through implementation:
Yes! There’s Google AMP For WordPress
Yep there’s a plugin, actually two. Right now the best option is AMP for WP (WordPress) but it also requires Automattic’s (founders of WordPress) AMP plugin. Setup and install is pretty straightforward.
- Install the AMP for WP plugin and activate
- When prompted, install the AMP plugin from Automattic (yes we know that’s not spelled correctly)
- From there, go to AMP > Getting Started in your Dashboard and start working through the settings, see https://ampforwp.com/help/ for more information on setup.
Again, this is not necessary if you don’t run a site that generates a lot of timely content, but if you do, then this plugin will make your life much easier.
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), from our vantage point, is an attempt to change the way we build websites and how we deliver content. It makes us focus on the content and take a mobile first approach. This is good. But, it also controls our content and what we want to display to the user — goodbye open web.
AMP is definitely not for everyone and actually, the majority of sites don’t need to implement it at all at this point. But, the message here is clear: make your web pages more lightweight and make sure they load fast on mobile devices. You’ve got less than 3 seconds, don’t let your “fluff” get in the way.
Watch and keep tabs on AMP, but don’t lose any sleep over it.