How Publishers Can Overcome SERP Challenges With AMP
The world is now a place, where we have a 24×7 4G internet connection on mobile devices, turning every second person into a Nomophobic. There was a time when we used to wait till midnight to start surfing the internet so all sluggish websites loaded faster. The only option we had was to wait forever because of the poor internet connectivity and sluggish websites. But now the picture is completely changed as nobody wants to wait for webpages to load. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the importance given to load time. Speed matters, more than ever.
Impact of Page Load Time on SERPs And Conversion
Does your web page take more than 3 seconds to load?
“We’re seeing an extremely high response-time for requests made to your site (at times, over 2 seconds to fetch a single URL). This has resulted in us severely limiting the number of URLs we’ll crawl from your site. “
-John Mueller, GOOGLE
There could be reasons like too many plugins to heavy images to bulk of redirects to dense codes to too many ads. This could still be making your web page sluggish and adding more SERP challenges for you.
|Use tools like – Google PageSpeed, Pingdom, WebPagetest and GTmrtrix to analyse your web pages and their load time
Since 2010, Google considers page load time as a ranking signal and apparently penalizes slow-performing mobile pages and high page load time could be contributing to the list of your SERP challenges. The importance of fast loading pages is also extended to those publishers who generate revenue via advertising. If your webpage doesn’t load before the visitor bounces back, you won’t be making any money on all the ads. And who would want to complicate ad revenue generation any further!
Will your mobile optimized website suffice or do you need more to overcome SERP challenges?
Mobile is the new normal now and this Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report confirms that by highlighting that users are continuing to shift from Desktop to Mobile web for content consumption. Further emphasising on the importance of mobile web, Google has initiated – Index mobile first, according to which google algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. All this makes it obvious for you to tilt their focus towards mobile web. Though, the question (rather a doubt) that arises here is, whether a mobile optimized website is the only thing you’ll need?
By acknowledging that most of the searches are taking place via mobile web, and optimizing your website for the same, you have really done a great job. However, you might still be witnessing high bounce rate and poor SERP as Mobile optimized website doesn’t help you in decreasing the page load time. When it comes to reducing the page load time and bounce rate, all that you need here, is Google AMP.
AMP: Future Of Mobile Web
As of last year, there is a new entry in the alphabet soup of web standards: AMP. You may have already noticed the small gray lightning bolt logo in your Google search results, but if not — start looking.
Accelerated Mobile Pages project (AMP) is a new Google initiative to build a better, more user friendly mobile web by introducing a new ‘standard’ to create an ideal mobile web experience for all. Basically, this new standard is a set of rules that form a simpler, lighter version of HTML. And pages built in compliance with AMP are sure to load super-quick on all mobile devices.
Ever since its launch in search results in February 2016, AMP has been in the SEO news. However, despite all the buzz around the project, SEOs and webmasters keep treating it quite warily. Is AMP yet another Google fad to come and go within a few months like many of them did before? Or is the project here to stay and form the future of mobile?
AMP’s predecessors: Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News and Snapchat Discovery have all had similar goals (making the mobile experience better for the user) all while actually making it more difficult for news websites to monetize their content in the very saturated online content market.
Delievering The Ultimate User Experience With AMP
The fast loading time and the less complex structure makes the end result is a very clean, minimalistic mobile page that focuses only on what is absolutely necessary ensuring an ultimate user experience.
How AMP is different from Facebook Instant Articles
Facebook Instant Articles appears only in the Facebook app, where a reader doesn’t have to rely on any outbound link and can easily read any article inside the Facebook app itself. These articles are built using HTML5, and publishers are required to submit a properly formatted sample to be approved by Facebook before they can begin distributing via Instant Articles. Once approved, publishers are able to syndicate Instant Articles directly either through the Instant Articles API or with a secure RSS feed.
AMP appear inside your mobile web browser on google search result page. On the other hand, Facebook Instant Articles are like a whole new version of traditional mobile pages optimized with a faster load time.
How AMP Drives Discovery
The speed ultimatum
People on the web are always multitasking and have no time to wait for your website to load. The one thing that AMP does for you, is increasing mobile performance – creating much faster mobile pages that load instantly – actually, around 0.7 seconds, but you get the idea. We can’t overestimate how important this is.
Prioritizing mobile web
When mobile web searches are now more common than desktop web searches, it makes complete sense for Google to give more weight to mobile searches that desktop searches, when it comes to page ranking and optimizing your pages with AMP lets you leverage this opportunity.
Leverage AMP Analytics
It’s not enough to send traffic to your mobile browser pages. You also have to know how they arrived at your site. AMP analytics will assist you in the same. With AMP analytics tools in place, tracking users and site performance becomes easy, you can determine where people came from, which pages they viewed and so on.
To prevent multiple analytics tracking from slowing down a site, google has implemented the philosophy of “measure once, report to many”. There are two paths to enable analytics functionality with AMP for your website:
- The Amp-Pixel Element: This is a simple tag that can be used to count page views as a typical tracking pixel would, using a GET request. There are a number of variables that can be passed through it, such as DOCUMENT_REFERRER and Title.
- The Amp-Analytics Extended Component: This is a bit more advanced than the amp-pixel. It is likely what you’ll use to implement analytics on your site because it allows for a greater level of configuration for analytics interactions.
- If you are interested in Google Analytics in AMP, check out the Google’s AMP Analytics section on their developer page. It has several examples of implementations.
Challenges with AMP: Publisher Feedback
In Google I/O 2017, the amp team addressed all these challenges and highlighted the steps steps being taken to resolve each of them. You can watch the complete video
: All AMP pages look the same
Alike webpages, amp pages are styled in CSS and are fully customizable using via the custom library of AMP components. This library allows for a creative page design. The AMP team is even planning to release a set of templates with light elements to help you start with some beautiful and interactive AMP pages. For those who do not have designing resources, can use <amp-start>. This AMP library is constantly growing with new additions like Perabox that allows you to add 3D effects to your webpage.
Hard time measuring the the success of amp pages
The fact that amp pages leverages platform catching and rendering, makes it a little bit challenging to measure their success. However, in the last few month, google has launched link and form substitutions to help publishers in attributing page visits back to AMP pages. Google also published a documentation that can be used while collecting analytics directly.
AMP urls displayed in search results
AMP urls are not easy to copy and paste, it is a bit frustrating to not be able to see the original article. For this, google search has recently rolled out a button across mobile web. This button appears in the header section that users can tap to display the publisher’s link and tap on the link itself to ‘canonical’ and long press to ‘copy-paste’.
Don’t monetize well through ads
To this, the amp team google shared that many publishers confirmed that they have experienced 90% higher CTR, 70% higher viewability and better monetization on AMP pages as compared to their non-AMP pages. The team has also launched AMP-ads which loads load 6x faster, will be 3x lighter relieving the browser of the burden, have no third party JS, with no malvertising -leading to 13% more revenue. There are a couple of tools like Selter’s Ad Creator present on the web that can help marketers create these AMP-ads without any technical knowledge.
From Instant Articles To Google AMP
When it comes to widening the content reach, Facebook Instant Articles have been working precisely well for many publishers, but as I mentioned earlier, they reduced the possibility to almost zero for someone to consume that content on a publisher’s website. his has an adverse impact on their overall SEO and SERP. This is one of the reasons that will impact Facebook’s ability to woo publishers
All this led to a good news for all AMP fans out there. Facebook is trying to salvage instant articles by providing support for Google AMP. In May, Facebook annoucnced the release of a new software extension. This software lets publishers easily transfer content formatted for Instant Articles to Google AMP.
Overcoming The Dilemma – Should I Implement AMP
AMP has seen to be working really well for publishers. Below are the stats collected since the launch of AMP in 2016.
Are you a publisher with following objectives?
– Seeking to establish strong user engagement on mobile web as most of your search are taking place via mobile.
– You wish increase mobile traffic for your website.
– Want to ensure that users stay longer on your website and thus reduce the bounce rate.
– Have understood the importance of page load time on your SERP
– You don’t want to get penalize by Google for a sluggish website.
– Want to overcome the SERP challenges related to page load time to boost your google ranking.
If you can relate to these objectives then you must give a spin to amp. It’ll reduce the page load time and also reduce bounce rate helping you perform better in terms of SERP. Your original content page would be the mobile browser friendly version that users will see, but you’ll also have the AMP version of that specific page, which will definitely speed things up.
Which platforms and browsers does AMP support?
Google AMP supports the latest two versions of all major browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari and Opera. They have their functionality extended to desktop, phone, tablet and the web view version of these respective browsers. Besides that, the core AMP library and built-in elements should aim for very wide browser support. It accept fixes for all browsers with market share greater than 1 percent.
How To Start Using AMP: Actionable Tips
One good thing about AMP is, easy integrations for many CMS platforms. For most of the platforms, AMP has released its original plugins and extensions. These plugins and extensions are easily accessible the plugins/extension directory. Here’re a list of few plugins/extension for your reference.
With respect to the CMS platform you are using, all you’ll have to do is install and activate the AMP plugin. This will help you start battling against some SERP challenges. For further design and layout changes, you can always get elements from the AMP library and modify your AMP pages as required.
For platforms like Hubspot, you can enable AMP within HubSpot in two-ways:
- Enable AMP within the “Publish or Schedule” tab of an individual blog post. Select the checkbox and publish the post to convert the post to AMP format. Google caches this content they will index the AMP version.
- Enable AMP for all your past posts, and any published in the future. Within Content Settings you can enable AMP and configure settings such as font, text color, logo, and more.
Prepare For The Future (Together)
Contribute in the AMP development
Google Amp is an open source project and welcomes contributions from everyone. This project lives on Github and 400 developers are already contributing in its development with their own codes. AMP team has made it possible for contributors to become a part of the team’s weekly design reviews on hangout. This has made this project more transparent and to increase the level of engagement. All you’ll need to do is raise an issue on Github and flag it as an agenda for next meeting. If you are not a developer, you can refer to tutorials to understand how to create your first AMP agenda. Go to bit.ly/helpamp and start contributing.
Over to you
It’s a wake up call that brands need to realise that page speed is one of the SERP challenges. It needs more importance and time investment. And this is exactly what Google AMP can help you with. AMP has a huge impact on the Google ranking. It is a new addition to the SEO tactics that you should follow.