Saturday, October 29, 2016

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): Everything You Need to Know

Google changes the layout of its desktop and mobile SERP (search engine results page) periodically. You may or may not notice these changes, but even the most seemingly mundane SERP calibration can influence website rankings.

That is, if any change to the SERP can be viewed as "mundane." At the Organic SEO Blog we tend to view all SERP changes as vitally important.

Last February, Google announced two important changes to the desktop and mobile SERPs, respectively. At the time, we reported on the desktop change, which limited the number of paid advertisements on the SERP:

"Traditionally, a Google SERP included up to eleven paid advertisements and eleven (or more) organic results," we reported. "The search engine...will no longer display ads on the right side of the page. The change now limits SERP ads to a maximum seven-per-page--three (or four, in cases of highly "commercial queries") above the organic search results and three below the organic search results."

This change had implications for both paid advertisement and organic SEO campaigns. To read more about the change, read "Google is Changing the SERP: What You Need to Know."

Around the same time, Google announced a change to the mobile SERP, which predominantly effected news sites. The search engine would now display Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on the top of the SERP.

AMP is a Google-backed open-source initiative that empowers website to create pages that "render fast," as the AMP site says.

"For many," the site also states, "reading on the mobile web is a slow, clunky and frustrating experience - but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere."

With AMP, sites strip down pages to the essential content. In highlighting AMPs, Google was trying to advance its perennial goal: to improve the browser experience, or as Google's vice president of news, Richard Gingras, puts it, "to drive the ecosystem forward."

Great news for browsers! The AMP style, however, has not necessarily worked for the news sites. As The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, some news organizations are seeing a loss in ad revenue:

"For some publishers...AMP pages do not currently generate advertising revenue at the same rate as their full mobile sites. Multiple publishers said an AMP pageview currently generates around half as much revenue as a pageview on their full mobile websites. That’s largely because of limitations related to the types of ad units AMP pages will allow and the ad technology providers that are currently integrated with the platform."

In simplifying the browser experience, then, Google is "advancing the ecosystem" at the expense of certain news organizations revenues. Now, not all news organizations have lost revenue. CNN, for example, has noted that visits to both the AMP pages and the full mobile site monetize at the same rate.

The takeaway, however, is that Google's relentless pursuit of an optimized browsing experience will not yield, even at the news of lost revenues--for other companies, that is. As always, to compete on Google, you must evolve.

You may have noticed AMP results at the top of your search results on your mobile device (first picture above). The AMP pages are intended to offer a cleaner, faster browsing experience (second and third pictures above). [Photo Source]

The AMP pages are here to stay, and news organizations are not the only sites that need to pay attention to the changes. Just this week, Search Engine Journal reported that AMP pages will be included in organic search results worldwide:

"When people are searching on a mobile device," Matt Southern writes, "Google search results will automatically default to displaying the AMP version of a page (if one is available). This change means a significant amount of new exposure for AMP pages; possibly leading to more traffic, revenue, and so forth."

The key here for your business is the quote in the parentheses: if one is available. Again, AMP is an open source code, available to any web developer. AMP optimization is not automatic for your site. You'll need to create new AMP pages to take advantage of this new change to the SERP.

As always, our advice is simple. If your site is dependent on mobile visits for income, you must adapt to compete.

If you have a developer in-house who can code AMP pages, you're a step ahead of the game.

If not, now is the time to partner with an enterprising developer, preferably with SEO knowledge.

Website Optimization AMP Coding with Stepman's PC

To create a fully-optimized website, with AMP pages, you'll need the help of many experienced professionals to perform different tasks.

Or you can call one multifaceted company. Stepman's PC is the rare company that offers a host of  development, SEO, and marketing professionals to optimize your website.

Contact Stepman's PC today to learn how you can improve your website's performance: 215-900-9398.