A mobile page load time is one of the most important factors in engaging visitors on a platform. Think about some of the webpages you regularly visit. Do you spend a lot of time waiting for it to load or does it take you straight to what you want to see? I’m going to guess it’s the former and that’s what accelerated mobile pages are about.

You see, a page load time is one of the factors that determines a user experience. The faster a page is, the better the experience. As a marketer, you should know that once a mobile web page takes time to load, visitors tend to lose interest and immediately find an alternative. The chances of them coming back are highly unlikely. 

So to prevent your visitors from bouncing off, you need to accelerate your mobile web pages. And this entire post is out to show you how.

What is AMP?

AMP short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is an open-source project created for optimizing load time for mobile web pages. This open-source project is a collaboration from Google and Twitter aimed at improving the speed of mobile pages load time. 

Accelerated Mobile Pages are HTML pages that have been trimmed to become lighter for browsers to load. So by using an AMP plugin, you can create mobile-responsive pages with a fast load-time which will significantly improve user experience.

Since it’s an open-source project, the AMP plugin is a contribution of resources from over a thousand developers, websites, and companies. Since inception till date, over a one billion AMP pages have been created. You can access the documentation here.

How Does Accelerated Mobile Pages Work?

If you’re curious as to how the accelerated mobile pages work, the first thing to understand is that all of this functions through a plugin. This plugin is what renders your mobile pages to load quicker. Rendering, in this case, means cutting off all the HTML tag managers while leaving the tags that are essential for mobile users.

The trimmed HTML tag managers are responsible for adding extra weight to the load time. Usually, pages built with Javascript aren’t rendered as well. This is because the goal of AMP is its speed and in this case, Javascript might slow your pages down.

So in summary, the AMP plugin limits HTML, CSS and Javascript on mobile pages for a quicker rendering. After this, the AMP is immediately cached in Google Cache. This way, a page is automatically loaded when you search using Google.

Accelerated Mobile Pages Structure

To effectively understand how AMP works, you also need to know how it’s structured. Below, I’ll be explaining the three components of AMP and how each one plays a part in speed time optimization.

Accelerated Mobile Pages
Source: AMPHTML Playground

1. AMP HTML

AMP HTML is really just regular HTML with custom AMP tags. These custom tags help restrict certain features and functionalities of the HTML tags that won’t be needed in mobile web pages. An example is inline CSS. Since CSS affects page rendering, AMP HTML only permits inline styles and each style sheet shouldn’t be larger than 75kb. With these adjustments, each page is rendered and load-time is maximized.

Since AMP HTML is a variation of the regular HTML, adapting or configuring your pages to AMP HTML won’t be a difficult learning curve at all. Usually, search engines find AMP pages through the HTML tags. Also, you can decide to keep two variations of a page which is the AMP and non-AMP, or keep only the AMP page.

2. AMP JAVASCRIPT (JS)

AMP Javascript is a Javascript for mobile pages that implements the rendering of all AMP HTML pages. It is responsible for the fast load-time of all rendered pages along with other resources. This script uses methods like calculations and sandboxing for every element of each page. With these methods, it’s able to calculate and block all slow elements that can prolong page load time. 

It is important to note that this loading is possible because it is asynchronous. Since Javascript can modify every aspect of a page, it can sometimes delay page rendering which slows down a page and defeats the entire point of AMP. However, since an asynchronous javascript is deployed, AMP Javascript contains elements of JS that won’t affect the performance of a page. 

To also see that each page functions as planned, third-party javascript isn’t allowed on AMP. This is because third-party JS are usually synchronous.

3. AMP CACHE

AMP Cache is a form of content delivery network that picks up all your AMP pages and cache them for optimized loading. Through an AMP cache, every page loads from the same source without the need for any external factor. This loading happens through an internal validation system that checks if each page matches the AMP HTML requirements before loading. 

The validation system also picks up validation errors of each rendered page. This particular feature helps developers understand what aspect of their code tends to affect user experience the most.

So, each of these three components, work together to achieve maximum user experience through speeding up page load-time.

Advantages of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Now that you understand how AMP is structured and how it works, I’m sure you’re ready to see what the fuss is about. To be sure of what benefits you hope to get once you switch your pages to AMP. Here are some of the benefits AMP brings to your pages and marketing strategy as a whole;

1. Improves User Experience and Reduces Bounce Rate.

If there’s anything AMP is out to provide, it’s a better user experience. As highlighted earlier, a faster load time encourages your visitors to check out all aspects of your website. And since your site isn’t lagging or causing an unnecessary wait,  the chances of them coming back to visit your website becomes higher.

For example, if you run an online fashion store, your users will be more inclined to check what you have in stock. If they have to wait for over five seconds to view one shirt, they will certainly not trust your site to effectively process payment or shipping. However, if the reverse is the case, they’ll be eager to shop for more items because they are comfortable going round your store.

2. Higher Mobile Rankings on Search Engines

The important factors search engines consider when ranking pages is how useful the content of the page is, it’s mobile responsiveness, clicks and page speed. Now, we’ve ascertained that the faster a page is, the higher clicks it’ll get. Plus the more clicks a post gets, the more search engines tag it as useful.

Recently AMP has started appearing in listings and even above paid ads. You can recognize AMP pages by the green lightning bolt underneath. Although AMP’s cannot be a definitive factor for all search engine rankings because of its mobile limitations, AMP pages will still rank higher in MRP’s which are Mobile Result Pages.

3. Enabled User Tracking

To effectively optimize your campaign ads and page performance, you have to track what your visitors are doing on your site. Usually, you might need third-party tools to track pages and insert UTM tags on each mobile link. However, using AMP, you have the internal tracking tools that help you determine where a specific user originates from. You can also choose from the two available tags, to further analyze clicks, page views, source, conversions as well as the comparison between new and returning visitors.

4. Maximizes your Return on Investment

The point of creating ads on pages is to be able to make money and profit from these ads. However, when there are a number of distractions on your page, it’s unlikely that a visitor will want to click on all the individual ads on a page. When you use AMP, you can take out unnecessary ads and display the rest in a user-friendly format. This is possible due to the elimination of certain HTML tags, CSS and JS. Now, your pages are lighter and faster to load. This will affect the speed load of your ads and post-click landing page as well.

There are tools in place that can help you maximize profit from your AMP pages and Ads. Some of which include; Google AdSense, AdReactor and Adform. With these tools, you can build your ads and they’ll fit into both regular and AMP pages.

5. Easy to Use and A/B Test Friendly

Using AMP, you still have control over all your resources. It is also easy to migrate previous pages from plain to AMP especially when they are hosted on Content Management systems like WordPress. Plus you don’t need a brand new knowledge of code as AMP script, HTML and CSS are simply minor adjustments to the codebase. 

Another benefit is that you can test multiple variations of an AMP page as well. Through this A/B test, you can figure out what your visitors find more engaging.

Disadvantages of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Irrespective of how great a product/service is, it’ll have certain shortcomings. Here are some of the disadvantages of creating an AMP

1. No Third-Party Javascript

As seen earlier, AMP works only when Javascript is synchronous. So in that light, you can only use the internal AMP JS. This means you can’t use page elements that’ll require data transfer.

2. No Google Analytics

The only way you can use google analytics to track AMP pages is by configuring it entirely and creating separate tracking codes which, to be honest, isn’t really worth the hassle. The reason why this isn’t ordinarily possible is that Google search engine offers your visitors a cache version of all your AMP pages instead of directly loading them from your server. 

How to Optimize Your Pages for AMP

AMP is the future of SEO and mobile result pages and while marketing gurus are moving towards this new development, you should too. Optimizing your pages for AMP can be tricky because AMP HTML requires specific tags and the order in which they’ll be placed. If a single character is out of place, it can affect the validation of your AMP pages.

So to avoid any validation error while building an AMP page, simply use the ‘Developers Tool’ in your chrome browser and look up the AMP project to cross-check for any errors on the page.

Secondly, you have to ensure that each page of your website has at least an AMP version. Luckily, a number of content management systems like WordPress have a plugin for this. Simply install this plugin and let it run through all your available pages. If you’re creating your own CMS, be sure to give it this functionality as well.

Conclusion

The major reason for creating AMP pages is to improve the readability and page speed when a visitor comes to the mobile web version of your page. Since a lot of people use their mobile phones to do almost everything, they will be visiting your site from there. So if you’re focused on improving the quality of your user experience and getting more conversions, AMP is the path you should be on.