Features

How does… an accelerated mobile page work?

Each week, we ask some of the industry's most knowledgable boffins to break down industry jargon to help you through those confusing meetings and indecipherable conferences. This week, GMG Digital's John Vlasakakis explains how Google's accelerated mobile pages work.

What is AMP?

AMP (Advanced Mobile Pages) is a Google-backed project which launched at the end of 2015.

It’s an open-source coding program, designed as a way to increase page speeds when loading content on mobile devices. It’s basically a ‘stripped down’ version of the regular mobile page but without the feature-heavy Javascript components which slow pages down.

Importantly, AMP renders instant load times, irrespective of internet speed.

AMP as an SEO factor?

Currently, AMP isn’t used as an SEO ranking factor, however many industry experts suspect this is soon to change. The integration of AMP beyond publisher websites is an indication that Google will eventually want all websites to implement AMP, in order for Google to continue offering its users the best experience possible.

My biggest concern with this in regard to Australian brands is their speed of delivery. Brands can’t wait for the changes to affect them before they take action. This will lead to them being left behind and losing market share to competitors who have been proactive in carrying out these changes.

Advantages of AMP

The obvious benefit of AMP lies in the speed of the page, which provides a better user experience and greatly decreases bounce rate. In fact, 90% of publishers who are using AMP have reported dramatically higher click-through rates.

Research by Google has found that users are spending double the amount of time on page when AMP is utilised. Ad performance is also vastly improved – they load faster, look better and are integrated better into the page. They’re also a lot harder to block due to the lack of Javascript on the page.

What started as mainly as a service for news-based sites, it is now available for any website to execute, including e-commerce and standard sites. Google’s first push for this was via an exclusive beta service, where AdWords results were AMP enabled.

This provided those specific advertisers with a distinct competitive advantage as the average bounce rate of an AMP optimised site is five times less than that of a standard page. GMG Digital has identified that if a website takes longer than two seconds to load, the bounce rate is a minimum of 55%.

Undoubtedly the biggest advantage of using AMP is the chance to feature on Google News’ carousel, a feature that appears on the very top of the search results and features exclusively AMP optimised content. This can be a golden ticket to the notoriously competitive front page of Google and is clearly a push by them to further promote AMP use among publishers.

Should you use AMP?

When AMP is implemented well, it’s an excellent tool in which to vastly improve speed and the overall user experience and thus improve conversions. All businesses should be looking at implementing the service, and at the very least, utilising AMP for AdWords which is an exclusive beta service that Google Premier Partners have access to.

Google definitely hasn’t ruled out AMP-based algorithm adjustments in the future and the consensus is that businesses should aim to be proactive rather than reactive to stay ahead of changes within the industry.

John Vlasakakis is head of search and digital media at digital marketing agency GMG Digital.

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