The Accelerated Mobile Pages project (AMP) is being developed in order to make the mobile web faster. Google is spearheading this open source project with the cooperation of many big name technology partners. Google’s desription of the AMP pages program can be found at this link.
The core of AMP is the stripped down HTML that it relies on. Essentially it is what Google Pagespeed Test wants web pages to be. Just static content with maybe a video or image carousel, nothing fancy (yes, ads can be included too).
Google has been making no secret of their belief that the future growth of the web is mobile and they have been working on various strategies to make the mobile experience better for users (mobile friendly tests, pagespeed test,etc). The AMP project may be the most ambitious of these efforts in some ways, it is the only one in which Google is supplying a specialized delivery network (CDN) in order to make sure that AMP designed pages load as close to instantly as possible no matter where you are or what kind of connection you are using.
When you think about it though it does make sense because smart phones are becoming affordable enough that nearly anyone in the world can have access to one and through it to the web,.Even so, many people only have access on 2G or 3G networks and AMP pages work better on slow connections because they are smaller (in file size).
What about for the average business owner though? Is it going to be worth going to the trouble of setting up AMP pages on your site? That depends, AMP pages are most useful for blog posts/news articles and so if you are a content marketer, inbound marketer or just publish a lot of industry news then yes, you probably should consider adding AMP pages to your site.
If your site is pretty much static or you only post news and articles once a month and your market is in your own local neighborhood then AMP is probably not going to give you enough of an SEO boost to make it worth your while to implement it. Of course I am a firm believer that your primary focus when building your web presence should be user experience. If you feel that your customers could benefit from lightning fast loading when they read your latest blog post then by all means, add AMP to your site.
Perhaps the ideal situation to have both a full featured website with a fully AMP capable news/blog section is to do a second installation of wordpress on a subdirectory of your main site. We have already done this several times for clients for various reasons and it does work well.
In the image to the (above) right you see the new and already coveted AMP pages carousel that now appears on the first page of mobile search results. The carousel features several articles that are pertinent to the search query and each featured article shows the title and featured image from the story. This is some awesome placement for the right content.
Set Up Your AMP Pages
While working on this article I set up AMP pages on our website and I will describe the process to you. It is too early in the roll out of AMP pages to consider myself an expert on the subject but the fact that they do work on the site as they are supposed to does gives me some kind of rudimentary authority on the subject I suppose. If you open any blog post on the site and put /amp/ at the end of the page URL then reload the page it should render in AMP format.
At the moment Google has discovered 13 AMP enabled pages (according to the AMP tool in Google Search Console) and only 3 of the pages have errors. In all 3 cases the error is the <link> in the header that tells the search engine whether it is an AMP page or a regular page. This tag is necessary when you have both AMP and non-AMP versions of a page (as we do) so that you can avoid having Googlebot see the two versions of the article as duplicate content.
Don’t get frustrated if your AMP pages do not show up in Search Console as soon as you install the AMP plugin(s) on your site. This does not mean you have not done it correctly, it means that Googlebot has not spidered the new pages yet. We have seen it to be a slow process, especially with already existing content which has already been indexed by Google as Googlebot does not seem to crawl those pages as often as it does new pages.
You should test your AMP pages after setting up the AMP plugins. Google has built testing for AMP pages into Chrome Dev Tools. Here is their description of how to do the test (from this page):
The AMP validator comes bundled with the AMP JS library, so it is available on every AMP page out of the box. To validate:
- Open your page in your browser
- Add “
#development=1” to the URL, for example,
- Open the Chrome DevTools console and check for validation errors.
Our site is built with WordPress and Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, has developed a plugin already to give your WordPress site the AMP pages advantage. The Automattic plugin seems to do the job of creating an AMP version of all your blog posts but it is very basic. Yoast SEO makes a companion plugin called glue which gives you more design options and makes sure things like the canonical URL is set correctly along with other metadata from the Yoast SEO plugin and the Yoast Google Analytics plugin.
I learned that you have to install the plugin from Automattic first and then the Yoast plugin. Within the Yoast plugin you should specify a site logo as well as a default image to use if a post does not have an included image. After you set up the two plugins you can check to see of they work by adding /amp/ to the URL of individual pages. Then make sure to open your Google Search Console account and either re-submit your xml sitemap or ask the Googlebot to crawl individual pages so that your AMP versions are added to the Google index.
There are rumored to be some conflicts with having a CDN (specifically CloudFlare) set up on a site when using AMP pages. According to conversations I have seen on the ampproject pages on Github Cloudflare is aware of these issues and is working to fix them. Of course other people say that this can be avoided by turning off Rocket Loader on Cloudflare. In order to avoid the issue I turned off Cloudflare entirely for the moment although I do plan to bring it back son because it does provide a lot of benefit to non AMP websites.
Another thing that needs to be done correctly with AMP pages in order to have the chance of being featured in the AMP pages carousel in Google search results is to add the proper Schema.org markup to the article. According to Google
Another thing that needs to be done correctly with AMP pages in order to have the chance of being featured in the AMP pages carousel in Google search results is to add the proper Schema.org markup to the article. According to Google this is very important as it determines which content is eligible to show up in the search carousel. I have tried several plugins to add the proper schema.org markup to articles and many leave something to be desired. My current choice (as of today) is a plugin called “Schema App Structured Data“. This plugin is the only one I have found that makes mention of AMP in its description and it does seem to work ok.
So that is the long and short of it up to this point. We have installed, configured and verified AMP on our blog pages. It seems as though Googlebot is finding and indexing our AMP pages ok with only a few minor errors found. We have not yet seen any of our AMP pages show up in the Google Search Carousel but this blog post is the first new one we have written since implementing AMP on our site and we will be keeping an eye on it once it is indexed.