Mastering AMP: Best Practices and Benefits

Learn what AMP is, how it works, pros and cons, how to implement and optimize AMP pages, and decide if it's right for your site.

Written by RamotionOct 23, 202315 min read

Last updated: Oct 23, 2023

It's one of the most talked about topics in SEO: Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP. AMP project is a stripped-down version of your page that loads faster on mobile devices. It’s been around for several years, and many web developers have adopted AMP with excellent results.

Most attempts to speed up a website focus on the front-end part of the user's journey. Mainly because it's perceived as the most visible and fundamental part of the lifecycle.

But do you know what's more important? The back-end aspects like hosting, CDN, and architecture can significantly influence your site's performance. While not visible to your visitors, the back end should always be addressed regarding how to speed up a site.

But are you aware that Google employs technology that could flip this approach on its head? It is about Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Here's everything you need to know about this Google initiative and how it can help you build an AMP website.

This introduction highlights the key benefits and goals of the AMP project, touches on how AMP works at a high level, and notes its evolution beyond just accelerating news story content.

Introduction

The goal is to allow webpages to load nearly instantly on phones and tablets.

The AMP project was originally announced by Google in 2015. At the time, studies showed that slow-loading pages resulted in high bounce rates on mobile. Google wanted to improve the mobile web experience and developed AMP as an open standard any publisher or site owner could use.

AMP requires webpages to streamline their code and rely on an AMP JS library. This caches elements of pages and allows them to load instantly from Google's servers. Pages designed with AMP can be cached in Google's data centers to allow almost instant loading. AMP is a project by Google to create fast-loading versions of webpages explicitly designed for the mobile experience.

It launched in 2015 to address high bounce rates and slow phone page loads. With optimizing code and serving AMP pages through its cache, pages that use AMP can load nearly instantly on mobile devices.

How Does AMP Work?

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a project that aims to improve website performance on mobile devices significantly. At its core, AMP is a way to build web pages for static content that render with reliable, fast performance.

The key to AMP's speed is how it restricts and manages the resources a page can use. AMP enforces certain technical limits and rules that ensure pages using the framework load nearly instantaneously.

AMP utilizes 3 core components to achieve optimized performance:

  1. AMP HTML is an HTML markup designed for optimal mobile page speed. AMP HTML applies restrictions like disallowing specific slow-loading JavaScript.
  2. AMP JS Library - The AMP JS library manages resource loading on AMP pages. It provides resource prioritization and gives pages a consistent layout.
  3. Google AMP Cache - The Google AMP Cache serves cached versions of AMP page copies. This removes load from the publisher's servers and enables almost instant page loads.

AMP provides a straightforward way to build mobile-optimized content by controlling page resources with its restricted HTML, JS library, and content delivery network. Pages with AMP offer speedy load times, allowing modern features like videos, images, and comments.

Benefits of AMP

AMP pages load incredibly fast, often 10x faster than standard mobile web pages. This leads to a better user experience and lower bounce rates.

The main benefits of AMP include:

1. Faster page load times

  • AMP pages are loaded and cached efficiently, displaying content much quicker than traditional web pages. This results in near-instant load times.

2. Lower bounce rates

Because AMP pages load so quickly, users are less likely to abandon a page. Studies show lower bounce rates on AMP pages.

3. Increased ad viewability

AMP works with various ad networks to ensure AMP ads load smoothly and stay in view longer. This increases viewability and ad engagement.

4. Mobile optimization

AMP is explicitly designed for the mobile web and provides a streamlined experience. Pages are responsive, lightweight, and work great on phones and tablets.

Through improving performance and the user experience, AMP pages can increase conversions, lower costs, and provide tangible benefits for sites. The speed and optimization are perfect for the modern mobile-first world.

Limitations of AMP

AMP pages have some drawbacks compared to regular HTML pages that website owners should be aware of:

Limited Customization

While AMP offers some standard components and layout options, designers need more control and flexibility for custom styling than building a page in HTML and CSS from scratch.

Complex, bespoke page layouts are difficult to achieve in AMP. The standardized components also mean pages across different sites tend to look similar.

Restricted Ad Formats

AMP only supports certain ad types and networks. Display ads using iframes, popups, and interstitials are prohibited, limiting the ad formats available to news publishers.

Dynamic ad insertion is also restricted. This can negatively impact ad revenues, as high-performing ad types may be unavailable.

Less Control Over SEO

AMP pages exist on different URLs than the regular HTML pages on a site. This division means links and authority are split across two page versions. Content changes must also be kept in sync across both page versions.

While Google aims to give equal prominence to AMP and non-AMP pages in search, publishers ultimately have less control over the page served to search engine users.

Setting Up AMP on Your Website

Getting started with AMP is relatively straightforward. Here are some tips for implementing AMP on your website:

Basic Setup

  • To create AMP pages, take your existing HTML page and add AMP HTML tags and markup. There are online converters that can help convert HTML to AMP HTML.
  • Link your AMP pages to canonical versions to tell search engines about the relationship between the pages. Use the <link rel="canonical" href="..."> tag.
  • Validate your AMP pages using the AMP validator to check for errors. Fix any errors before publishing your AMP pages.
  • For the CSS, use only inline stylesheets. External stylesheets are not allowed on AMP pages.
  • Convert external JavaScript to AMP components and make sure they are asynchronous.

Implementation Tips

  • Use AMP-compatible third-party scripts and embeds. Many third-party tools like YouTube, X (Twitter), Instagram, etc already support AMP integrations.
  • Keep your AMP page size small. Images should be responsively sized, compressed, and lazy-loaded.
  • Use AMP-compatible analytics like Google Analytics instead of traditional JavaScript analytics.
  • Use AMP components like image galleries, lightboxes, carousels, etc, to enhance interactivity.

Best Practices

  • Optimize your page for performance. Remove any unnecessary tags, minify CSS, and compress images.
  • Make sure your AMP page can render quickly on mobile devices. Test on various screen sizes.
  • Focus on creating great AMP content and optimizing user experience over trying to optimize for search rankings.
  • Update your Sitemap to include AMP pages and submit it to search engines.
  • Implement effective call-to-actions and keep key e-commerce elements like Add to Cart on AMP pages.
  • Monitor analytics and run A/B tests to compare AMP vs non-AMP version performance. Refine based on results.

Optimizing AMP Pages

Once you implement AMP on your site, monitoring performance and adjusting to achieve the best results is essential. Here are some tips for optimizing your AMP pages:

Analyze Performance with Google Tools

Google offers several tools to analyze how your AMP-enabled pages are performing:

  • AMP Validator - Validates AMP HTML markup to ensure it follows specs. Errors need to be fixed.
  • PageSpeed Insights - Checks performance on mobile and desktop. Gives suggestions to improve.
  • Search Console - Provides data on how well pages perform in Google search.

Key Metrics to Track

Focus on these key metrics to gauge how well your AMP pages are working:

  1. Page load time - Should be under 1 second with AMP.
  2. Traffic volume - Compare to non-AMP pages.
  3. Bounce rate - Lower is better.
  4. Conversion rate - For goals like email signups or purchases.
  5. User engagement - Scroll depth, time on page.

Ways to Improve AMP Pages

Here are some optimization tips to improve your AMP pages:

  • Simplify page design and remove unnecessary elements.
  • Make sure images are appropriately sized and compressed.
  • Eliminate third-party tracking and analytics scripts.
  • Minify CSS and JavaScript code.
  • Cache content closer to visitors with a CDN.
  • Ensure a good user experience on mobile.
  • Check for validity issues and debug regularly.
  • Review analytics to identify poorly performing pages.

You can improve speed, engagement, and conversions over time by continually monitoring and optimizing your AMP pages.

AMP for E-commerce

E-commerce sites can benefit tremendously from adopting AMP. The accelerated page load times AMP improve user experience and higher conversions for shopping sites.

Benefits for Shopping Sites

  • Faster page loads increase conversions - By accelerating the speed of product and category pages, AMP enables more users to view products and add items to the cart before abandoning the site. Studies show that 47% of users expect pages to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • Improved mobile user experience - AMP's focus on optimized mobile pages provides a streamlined experience for mobile shoppers, who account for a large portion of e-commerce traffic. This can reduce bounce rates on mobile.
  • Pages load even with spotty connections - AMP's preloaded page cache allows pages to load instantly, even when connectivity is limited. This helps provide a seamless experience for users in areas with poor mobile coverage.
  • More prominent placement in search results - AMP pages are highlighted and featured prominently on both desktop and mobile Google search results. This leads to increased organic traffic and clicks from SERPs.

Tips for Product Pages

  • Optimize images - Use properly sized images with efficient formats like WebP for faster loading product imagery—lazy load images below the fold.
  • Streamline page elements - Minimize extraneous plugins and features on product pages to improve load times. Use AMP components for functionality like image galleries.
  • Highlight essential product information - Ensure critical product specs, pricing, options, and calls-to-action are above the fold so they display immediately.
  • Cross-link-related products - Use custom components to easily link to related products, recommendations, and accessories to encourage more on-site browsing.

Integrating Shopping Carts

  • Link to native checkout - Use an amp-iframe to link to your regular non-AMP product pages for checkout. This avoids complications with managing carts through AMP.
  • Implement AMP callback scripts - These allow passing data between AMP and non-AMP pages to help maintain continuity during checkout.
  • Use e-commerce integrations - E-commerce platforms like Shopify offer seamless integration with AMP when using their buy buttons, making implementation easier.

With the speed and capabilities of AMP for product display pages, shopping sites can drive greater engagement and sales through faster load times, improved mobile experience, and prominent placement in mobile search results. Integrating the checkout process while maintaining the benefits of AMP provides the best of both worlds.

AMP for Blogs/News

Blogs and news sites (like Apple News) can significantly benefit from adopting AMP pages. The key advantages are:

Faster Page Loads

AMP pages load nearly instantaneously due to their streamlined code and restrictions on third-party scripts. This results in pages loading 4x faster than standard mobile pages. For content-focused sites that rely on engagement and traffic, faster load times can lead to lower bounce rates, more pageviews, and increased ad revenue.

AMP pages load faster than standard mobile pages, which can help with SEO. This is because Google prioritizes sites with fast loading times in its search results.

This is a significant advantage for content-based sites that rely on engagement and traffic. Faster load times can lead to lower bounce rates, more pageviews, and increased ad revenue.

Formatting Articles

The AMP framework requires content to be cleanly structured with proper semantic markup. This results in better-formatted instant articles that are easily read on all devices. The restricted set of supported HTML tags also encourages minimalist, fast-loading designs.

In addition, AMP pages must have a canonical link back to their source. This helps with search engine optimization (SEO), as Google can determine which URL is an article's “real” version.

Optimizing Images

AMP pages limit image file sizes and encourage efficient delivery with features like automatic image resizing and lazy loading. This significantly reduces bandwidth usage, boosting page load speeds—images load using the efficient AMP cache instead of the original server.

With AMP's page speed benefits and article optimization features, it can significantly enhance the user experience on blogs and news sites. The restrictions require some development work upfront but lead to consistently fast-loading, engaging content.

AMP for Business Sites

AMP can provide significant benefits for business websites focused on lead generation. The speed and interactivity of AMP pages create a smooth user experience that encourages visitors to convert into leads and customers.

Lead Generation

AMP makes it easy to highlight calls to action across your site. Call-to-action buttons can stand out visually while loading almost instantly. This reduces friction in the conversion process. Visitors are more likely to click buttons or forms when they load immediately.

You can also include lead generation forms directly on AMP pages. Contact forms will display quickly without pesky loading screens. By removing delays, you enable more users to fill out forms and convert them into leads.

Optimized Calls-to-Action

Calls-to-action are critical for lead gen. AMP allows you to optimize CTAs for maximum visibility and conversion rates.

For example, you can create CTAs that:

  • Loads instantly on the page
  • Use bold colors or animations to stand out
  • Scroll into view as users navigate the page

This creates a seamless experience where calls to action are highly visible. Visitors can faster access forms, downloads, contact options, and other conversions.

Contact Forms

Contact forms are vital for capturing leads. AMP enables contact forms that load quickly while remaining functional and spam-free.

You can add AMP-compatible forms directly to your pages. Forms will display instantly while still integrating with standard form processors like Formspree. This makes it easy to add lead capture forms to any AMP page.

By removing form-loading friction, you can boost lead conversion rates. Visitors are likelier to complete and submit quick-loading forms integrated directly into AMP pages.

Should You Adopt AMP?

Deciding whether to adopt AMP pages for your website requires carefully weighing the potential benefits against the limitations. For some sites, implementing AMP makes good strategic sense, while it may be better for others.

When AMP Makes Sense

AMP provides the most value for sites focused on quickly readable content. News sites, blogs, recipes, and how-to articles often benefit from fast-loading AMP pages. The immersive reading experience helps engagement.

E-commerce product and category pages also do well with AMP. Faster page loads lead to lower bounce rates and higher conversions. The Buy Button component makes it easy for customers to complete purchases without leaving the AMP page.

Websites focused on multimedia content can also gain from AMP. Video and image content loads nearly instantly, improving user experience. The built-in analytics make it easy to track engagement.

Considerations Before Adopting

While AMP offers speed advantages, it comes with some limitations. AMP pages cannot use custom JavaScript, restricting advanced functionality. Shopping carts, popups, and other dynamic elements may not work as expected.

AMP also requires creating and maintaining a parallel set of AMP pages and your normal pages. This takes extra time and effort, especially for sites with extensive content catalogs.

It's important to evaluate if the faster load times will directly impact your key site metrics, like conversion rate or time on site. AMP may need to provide more lift for some websites to justify the additional maintenance burden.

Making an Informed Decision

Carefully audit your site analytics and determine where slower page speeds impact engagement and conversions. Evaluate your key pages and assess the effort required to implement AMP versions.

Run A/B tests comparing regular and AMP pages for critical user journeys. Analyze the results to gauge possible benefits before rolling out AMP comprehensively. Consider a gradual phase-in focusing on high-value pages first.

By taking a data-driven approach, measuring possible lift, and starting with targeted AMP adoption, you can make an informed decision about the value of AMP for achieving your website goals.

Conclusion

If you're trying to decide if AMP suits you and your site, weighing the pros and cons—technical and financial—is vital to determine if it fits your needs. Although the benefits of AMP are clear, some advantages and disadvantages must be considered before implementation. Understanding these factors, site owners can make educated decisions about whether or not AMP is right for their business.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to consider using AMP. It might be worth considering if you are a content-heavy website trying to give users an exceptional mobile experience across multiple devices. It helps you on the SEO front in some instances.

Still, there are also some potential drawbacks that you need to consider. It won't hurt to try it if you choose to do so. We certainly can't guarantee it will work for every site and every user, but you'll find many advantages.

The AMP project is backed by some of the most prominent players in technology and publishing. The infrastructure is being built now to help multiple industries reshape how they approach content on the internet, and we're already beginning to see sites use it to provide a faster, more efficient experience for their users.

AMP isn't going anywhere; it's here to stay. With support from most major browsers, it has a bright future.

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