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Should I Convert My Pages to AMP Format?


The AMP format – also known as the Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative – is a big deal. Google and content providers are trying to create a seamless system. One that is tailored for mobile and can get users in and out quickly – putting what matters most in their hands faster.

It would be easy to assume it only applies to article and text-based content creators, but that’s not actually the case.

We’re going to take a closer look at why that is, and explain just who should be concerned with the AMP format.

Should you convert your pages to the new format, or should you ignore it?


What Is the AMP Format and How Does It Work?

AMP – also known as Google’s Instant Articles – will now take precedence in SERPS. That has been the case since February of this year. The goal is to keep relevant content at the top of the search result listings, namely for breaking news and real-time alerts.

In addition, to keeping AMP powered pages at the top of search results, Google will also be adding a new “live ticker” section that will sit above the “top stories” featured carousel. When you conduct a search, the “top stories” carousel appears above the traditional search results list. It highlights popular and new stories that are relevant to the topics you searched.

Above that, will be the ticker that displays “the best super-fresh content from different sources around the web,” according to Google.

So, just to reiterate, the structure will be:

amp format appearance-flow-in-serps

Google says you don’t have to worry about content getting featured multiple times. Highlighted content will be “de-duplicated” to eliminate redundancies. This is both good and bad news for content creators, because it means if you’re featured once you won’t appear again – at least not in the ticker or “top stories” carousel.

The significant takeaway here is that AMP results will now take up an entire screen on mobile, which is what Google has been aiming for since the beginning. If you don’t get on board and prepare for the Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative, you’re going to be missing out on a lot of opportunities.

Even if you are the number one entry for a search, it won’t matter because AMP content will appear first.


Not Just for Text-Based Content

Initially, you might think that only text-based content is going to be featured in Google’s AMP results, but that’s not the case. The team wants to update the system so that it also highlights other content including quotes and interviews, videos, galleries, live videos, listicles and much more.

According to Google, the AMP index has over 150 million documents with an average addition of about 4 million more every week. That’s insane. It’s growing fast and includes industries like “e-commerce, entertainment, travel, recipe sites” and more.

This is incredibly important, because it means the whole of the web will be open to the AMP results – once Google rolls out these updates, obviously.

It also shows that everyone should be concerned with preparing their portals in the AMP format.


Why Does AMP Exist?

As Google so eloquently puts it, “it’s 2016 and [..] browsing the web on a mobile phone can still feel so slow with users abandoning sites that just don’t load quickly.”

hand-with-mobile-phone-outdoorsThey want to change how we interact on our mobile phones, not just with search results, but content as well.

Pages that are AMP friendly will load instantly when you click on a link or blurb in search results. After loading, you can move seamlessly between one piece of content and the next without any load times. It completely does away with the sluggish performance we see so often when browsing the web via mobile.

This is important because mobile users will abandon searches and sites that take too long to load. Often, they are tapping into the web while they are on the go, which means they may be busy doing something else or on their way somewhere. They don’t have time to sit around and wait for pages – and content – to load. When you think about it though, can you blame them?

More people are now browsing on mobile than desktop computers, so it makes sense why Google would want to improve the experience.


Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News Are Similar

In May 2015 Facebook unveiled their Instant Articles feature, and in June 2015 Apple announced the Apple News feature. Both of these initiatives are similar to Google’s AMP, with a primary goal to improve the mobile experience.

What makes the AMP format different is that both Facebook and Apple’s services require a proprietary app. To see Facebook Instant Articles, for instance, you need to be using the Facebook app.

AMP, on the other hand, works naturally on the open web. No one has to install an app to take advantage of the instantaneous loading or see content. It’s all part of Google search.


Is AMP Good for SEO?

This question is actually tough to answer because it’s not straightforward.

You see, when AMP first appeared it gave the illusion that it was better for SEO. This is because participating news sites were highlighted at the top of relevant search results pages in the “top stories” carousel. Naturally, it helps to be one of the first references in a search result listing – obviously, this is why everyone clamors to be the top contender.

This change in appearance for search results meant that early adopters saw an increase in traffic. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it was because of an improved SEO rating. While converting to AMP can certainly help, there’s no direct evidence it will improve rankings.

In fact, even Google explicitly stated that AMP is not a “search ranking factor” for most content creators during a certified partner event.

That said, page speed does affect SERP rankings, and improved page speed can be earned by converting to AMP. Couple that with the fact that Google is putting more emphasis on mobile, and you can see why AMP is [probably] good for SEO.

It’s up to you whether you adopt the standard now or later, but when it comes to SERPs sooner is always the better choice.


Will You Make More or Less Money with AMP?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask.

According to Google, 90% of publishers experience higher click-through-rates, while 80% experience higher viewability. But these stats only factor in Google Revenue via AdSense and Ad Exchange. It does not include other sources of revenue.

google-increased-amp format stats-slide

But if you look at some of these other sources – and consider the implications of AMP changes – you might see that some content creators will make less after the conversion.

For instance, to boost page speed, AMP eliminates certain page sections. One such section includes the page header, which takes away the option to deploy header bidding for advertising and marketing. This can decrease total revenue for some channels, ultimately meaning that the AMP conversion will reel in less money overall.

In reality, content creators will need to factor in their revenue stream on a case-by-case basis. What works for one website might not work for another.


So, Should I Switch to AMP Format or Not?

Barring all this information, it will depend on your individual revenue stream, content, and channels. Some may benefit from converting to the new AMP format, while others will not.

It’s important to remember that this is a mobile initiative, and so it is designed to replace mobile versions of websites. In fact, only mobile users will see the AMP version of a site. It will not directly affect your primary desktop site.

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