How is Google’s New AMP Affecting SEO?
By Toby May
Google aims to revolutionize mobile web performance with its new open source initiative known as AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages. The aim of this project is to enable publishers in producing mobile-optimized content that will load instantly anywhere. According to the official Google blog, pages built using AMP load four times faster than non-AMP pages on an average. They also use 10 times less data that regular webpages, which is a huge benefit for users.
Why speed is important
With speed being the main driver of the Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative, it’s important to understand how speed affects a website. Here are a few reasons why speed is such an important factor in your webpage performance, according to Google:
- 29% of mobile internet users will immediately switch to a different site or app if they find that the first one doesn’t satisfy their needs. This could be because they can’t find the desired information or because the page is too slow. In fact, 70% of those who switch claim that lagging load time was the reason for their switch.
- For 40% of shoppers, three seconds is the longest they will wait before they abandon a retail or travel site. This means that if your page doesn’t load as quickly as possible, you will be losing out on the chance to engage thousands of potential customers.
Additionally, here are some more facts to prove the importance of speed, according to a Soasta research:
- Pages with a fast load time experience better conversions than their slower counterparts. The study found that there was a 27% increase in conversions when the load time was just one second faster. At the same time, the conversion rate dropped below 1% if they were just 2 seconds slower.
- There was a 12.8% bounce rate for pages with an average load speed on 2.4 seconds. On the other hand, pages with a load time of 3.3 seconds experienced a 20% bounce rate. This means that a one second delay in your load time can result in a 58% increase in your page bounce rate.
Effect of Google AMP on SEO
AMP is an incredible boon for publishers, as AMP-optimized content is expected to top any search result list. This is because Accelerated Mobile Pages will have a huge impact on SEO. Take a look at some of the ways in which it will affect search results:
Effects on organic search results – In a recent Google+ Hangout, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller confirmed that AMP is not a ranking factor. You may be wondering how AMP affects your organic search ranking if it is not yet a Google search ranking factor. The fact of the matter is that it has an effect on other ranking factors such as user experience, clicks, and impressions. So this means that it has an indirect effect on your organic ranking. As of now, AMP can only be seen in the news carousel and is being displayed above the fold. This means that AMP-optimized pages are visible well above organic search results. Due to this, you might be experiencing some drops in clicks and impressions or even user engagement if you haven’t started using AMP.
- In addition to optimizing your content using AMP, you can improve your organic search ranking by improving your above-the-fold elements. This would require you to create actionable headlines that immediately engage your audience. You will also need to come up with an eye-catching and original hero image that will immediately grab a reader’s attention.
- Effects on paid search – In terms of ad placements, AMP is expected to bring about an increased focus on quality instead of quantity. This means that there could be higher competition with fewer paid advertising options. According to Google, AMP will support a wide range of ad formats for publishers. Ads on AMP are expected to be much faster in addition to being engaging and innovative. Since all ads will be required to use HTTPs, this will also bring about an enhanced level of safety for users.
Effects on local search – Google AMP also affects local SEO to a significant extent. Instead of displaying local listings first, the local search results with show related AMP-optimized content on top in the form of a news carousel. Take a look at the image below:
- The left image shows an AMP result for “pizza”, while the right is the regular search results without the AMP HTML. This change brought on my AMP to local search results will have a significant impact on local businesses. They may even experience a drop in clicks and impressions, since users don’t immediately see their listing as compared to before.
How to get started with AMP
- If you wish to jump into the AMP bandwagon, you can find important technical introductions and tutorials on the official AMP project website. The tutorial will help you in creating a basic AMP HTML page for you to publish. You can even get inspiration from the sample AMP HTML codes available.
- For smaller businesses with a WordPress website, you can simply install the WordPress AMP plugin and you’re good to go. However, it may be much more complicated for those running a bigger website as you will need to integrate the framework into your current management technology.
- You could experience a number of benefits from implementing AMP into your website. In addition to improving the experience of your page visitors, it could also improve your traffic. Since organic searches are now displayed below the fold, this is your chance to get ahead of your competitors and improve your SEO strategy with AMP.