Should you implement AMP?

Nearly 2 years ago, Google announced the AMP project with the aim to create a faster mobile web. There are certainly benefits to AMP, but it’s not suitable for every site, which is why I’ve written this guide to help you determine whether you should be implementing AMP on your site.

What is AMP?

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is built using AMP HTML, which speeds up the rendering process, making load times faster than those for pages built using standard HTML. In fact, according to Google’s own Gary Illyes, the median load time for AMP pages is 1 second, which is 4 times faster than the average standard HTML page. We’ve covered what AMP is in more detail over on the Realise blog.

What are the benefits of AMP?

  • Pages built using AMP HTML will load faster, creating a better user experience.
  • Mobile rankings will increase due to faster load speeds. This will become an increasingly important factor when Google releases its mobile first index some time in the near future. There are also some suggestions that AMP could become a ranking factor in the future.
  • Less strain on your servers as Google serves these pages from its cache.
  • An opportunity to feature in Google’s AMP carousel (for relevant pages).
  • Google appears to be favouring AMP content for its featured snippets when searching on mobile devices.
  • A recent piece of research investigating the impact of AMP for product pages on ecommerce sites has shown significant increases in conversion rates and a decrease in bounce rates.

Are there any disadvantages to AMP?

  • Because Google serves a cached version of AMP pages to users rather than accessing your servers, Google Analytics won’t track visits from users unless you make some configurations to Google Analytics and apply a separate tracking code to your AMP pages. This is a fairly straightforward process if you’re using Google Tag Manager – a guide for how to do this can be found here.
  • Depending on your approach, developing pages in AMP can create additional work, as the same page may need to be built both for desktop and AMP. If you choose to only use AMP versions of pages, effort may be required to replace existing pages. However, the process of creating pages in AMP is relatively quick. The AMP Project provides tutorials to help users build AMP pages. You can also find a helpful guide on how to implement AMP on our blog.
  • Because AMP focuses on keeping load speeds fast, the HTML is stripped down, meaning that certain designs built using standard HTML are not possible in AMP and there can be differences between the desktop and mobile versions of a page.

Should I use AMP?

Whether or not you should use AMP depends on your site. Because AMP is a stripped-down form of standard HTML, many functions cannot be implemented in AMP. This means certain types of pages cannot be built, particularly if they contain large amounts of javascript, such as a page containing an interactive map or products that can be rotated manually.

AMP is most useful for news articles and blog posts as these are typically fairly light on javascript and can feature in Google’s AMP carousel. AMP can be used for other pages but it can depend on what javascript is implemented on these pages and whether it’s supported by AMP HTML. Some of these other pages include:

  • PPC landing pages (Google just announced that they’ll be giving AdWords advertisers the ability to use AMP landing pages for search text ads this month)
  • Product pages
  • Category pages
  • Forms

While we’d expect AMP pages to perform better in Google and for users in most cases, these benefits need to be weighed up against the effort and time required to transition to AMP and the potential end results.

As an example, the advantage of AMP is to increase load times and improve the user’s experience through quicker load times. Applying AMP to a page that isn’t a landing page for organic traffic may not be the best use of time (as these pages won’t benefit from a rankings boost), especially if this page already loads reasonably quickly. Many forms might fall under this category, making AMP less valuable for such pages.

Google continues to improve AMP and increase the benefits it provides, meaning the advantages are only likely to grow (since I started writing this article, 2 new announcements were made regarding AMP). Ultimately, the decision to implement AMP rests on 2 factors:

  • Is it possible to implement AMP on my site?
  • Do the benefits outweigh the time and effort required to implement AMP on my site?

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