Google launched AMP in 2016 with the goal to improve the page load time and user experience of searchers. In short, AMP basically strips down the HTML code to bare bones and prioritizes delivering the most essential content of the web page. The Google AMP cache then helps instantly load the page when the visitor returns to the website.
While AMP is not a direct ranking factor, the benefits that it brings about, such as faster page load time, privacy pre-reserved rendering or caching, lazy loading, and it being HTTP secure contribute to the SEO of the website by improving engagement with users online and improves their experience. So using AMP helps a website rank better. Think about it, a few seconds delay reduces engagement and increases bounce rates, Having a faster-loading page will improve engagement, which Google will take into account when it comes to ranking pages.
Offering website visitors, the best possible experience is critical for any business online, especially for local businesses, and AMP allows the web pages of the load faster to ensure customers aren't kept waiting for information about the business. In fact, according to a ThinkwithGoogle stat, conversions of a business can fall by 20% for every second delay in page load time.
A top-notch user experience is everything for a business to get conversions and boost its revenue and in terms of visibility online, Google is incorporating the Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal from 2021 which they have labelled as the page experience signal. The 3 main factors of this soon-to-be ranking signal are loading (Largest Contentful Paint), Interactivity (First Input Delay) and Visual Stability (Cumulative Layout Shift) and as per Milestone Research, AMP can contribute significantly to better the page experience score of a website or its most important pages and send out the right signals in Google's mobile-first index which will help the page rank better.
An absolute, the page experience signal will also be an inclusion in Google's E-A-T (Expertise-Authority-Trustworthiness) and the Quality Rater's Guidelines if not already, which is used as a benchmark by the search engine to perceive and rank a brand based on the factors highlighted by it. With AMP sure to improve the page experience signal of a web page, it's sure to increase its chances of climbing up the rankings, which means more visibility and increase in impressions, clicks, click-through rate and conversions for a business. Overall, giving customers the best user experience on a website should be the focus.
How does AMP work?
In a nutshell, AMP basically prioritizes the preferred content of the website visitor and strips down the HTML code to ensure fast delivery of the pages and enhance the user experience. In addition, for repeat website visitors, Google AMP cache helps retrieve the page faster. There are 3 basic parts of AMP:
AMP HTML: This is basically HTML code that is limited and optimized for AMP
AMP CDN: This Content Delivery Network is optimized for AMP and caches the page for optimized loading when a user returns to the page
How do sites implement AMP correctly?
That said, let's get into details of how AMP works and how it improves the load time of a web page and improves the page user experience signal of a webpage:
AMP prioritizes the loading of the document over resources such as Ads, iFrames and images and the size of the resources in the HTML should suit and be resized to suit the functioning of AMP. The document layout is separated from the resource layout but since AMP is optimized there won’t be a layout shift which is a ranking factor in the page experience signal.
By using custom scripts, extensions such as Instagram, Twitter, lightboxes and so on, should not block the rendering of the page which could delay page delivery. Embedded in the script are custom tags which creates a sandbox for the extensions to load.
Since the page layout is left to the browser which hampers the load time although GPU takes care of the layering and transitioning, AMP takes care of transitioning and animations on opacity and transforming to ensure the web page renders quickly which is termed as composting.
As already mentioned, the document layout is first displayed on the screen and the resources are then loaded based only on what’s required in priority while the rest is pre-fetched using the lazy load or cache and hence the CPU is used only when the resources start to load.
Pre-connect API is used to pre-render a page even before the user actually clicks on it to ensure the load is instant. However, pre-rendering does absorb bandwidth and CPU and optimized AMP pages display only what’s above the fold when pre-rendering and doesn’t download resources that are heavy on the CPU.
Once the pages have been optimized for AMP, they need to be validated for any errors and configuration issues and this can be done using an AMP validation tools, like Google's AMP Test.
Example of AMP vs. Non-AMP
What does Milestone have and do that would help succeed at AMP?
As part of the mobile-first technology, Milestone CMS offers businesses the opportunity of converting their highest conversion pages to AMP to enhance the user experience with fast-loading pages. Using Milestone CMS, businesses can configure AMP pages, validate them before going live and track the impact of the web pages that have been converted to AMP.
Milestone will help the business choose which pages need to be converted to AMP. Generally, the pages with highest engagement and conversions are made in AMP to ensure that potential customers have all the required information in a flash. Using Milestone CMS, the pages are then converted to AMP to ensure it meets the requirements and the right annotation tags are set up for crawl visibility. Learn more about AMP Implementation
AMP is perceived as a stripped-down version of a webpage, but Milestone offers the below features to ensure that the web page is interactive and engaging and ensures that the UI between AMP and a mobile page is consistent, and there is no compromise on the look and feel. Listed below are some the features that businesses can choose to have on their AMP:
All the above-listed features can be integrated without compromising on the page speed of the web page. The team then sets up annotation tags for crawl visibility. Here's an example:
Tracking impact of AMP
We show businesses the efficacy of AMP is a priority for Milestone and we track the impact of AMP once it is published. This is done by:
Setting up canonical tags for the page to be indexed
Setting up a GTM (Google Tag Manager) container for AMP
Creating events and tags to be tracked based on the AMP component
Defining report variables to the business
To give businesses the best possible mobile-first experience, Milestone combines the benefits of AMP and Progressive Web Apps. While AMP will help with fast page load speed, the other advanced functionalities of PWA will ensure that your website visitors are getting the best of both worlds. Consider AMP as the entry to PWA. While AMP offers stellar page load speed, we use PWA for our clients to re-engage with their customers using push notifications and other features.
What does the Milestone Research say?
The data clearly shows that AMP benefits content with visibility, traffic, and revenue by 20-30%. In this era of Google's Core Vitals, it is even more important to pay attention to customer experience and improve it before it becomes a stronger ranking signal in 2021. In fact, implementing AMP is an opportunity and will impact your rankings.
Based on our previous research we found that fewer than 4% of websites are using AMP despite the growth of mobile usage and majority mobile traffic for most industries. AMP can be a competitive advantage for the sites that implement it sooner.
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