Mobile SEO: Implementing AMP for Success
Implementing AMP on your website can be as simple as installing a WordPress plugin but to harness all the benefits, you need to go a little further.
In order for any web page to reach as many people as possible, it has to have a high chance of being seen. One of the most common reasons a web user might ‘bounce’ away from a website is because it is failing to load in good time, or is being unresponsive.
This is most common with mobile visitors, and yet mobile web use is increasing year upon year. Improving the mobile performance of a website can also help a website be found in search engines as it is a ranking factor.
This is exactly what implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages does, and it is important to make sure that it is implemented correctly.
How can you ensure you are implementing AMP for greater SEO success?
Let’s dive in and find out…
To make anything work in your favour, you first need to have a solid understanding of how it works. Essentially, AMP is a standard for web publishers which you want to try and adhere to as much as possible. If you get your AMP right, it means that your website will load quickly and effectively on mobile devices, as well as standard desktops.
Once you start to look into it, it soon becomes blisteringly obvious that many of the design elements which serve to make a website pretty or functional on a desktop are not necessary for mobile, and in fact can have the opposite effect. This leads to clunky, unresponsive sites – and that is bad news for the SEO.
How AMP Works
To put it simply, AMP relies on three essential parts. Firstly, you have the AMP HTML. This is a language, made as a subset of the larger HTML language, which can be used to more quickly and easily ensure that your web pages are responding well on mobile.
For those with a prior understanding of HTML, it is unlikely that this will cause too many problems, as it is essentially just a few more custom tags and properties. Regardless, it is an important part of the trio.
As you can see, there are many layers to the AMP process and done right it can make a difference to how well your website loads and runs on mobile. But how do you actually go about making it happen, and implement it on your own website?
Starting the AMP Implementation Process
These restrictions might require you to rewrite your site template. Depending on what is going on in your website, this could mean a couple of simple tweaks, or you might need to make a larger, far-reaching change. It all depends on the situation.
For WordPress sites, the process is alarmingly simple. The first thing you need to do is install the official WordPress AMP app, easily obtained through the GitHub page. This plugin installs like any other, and then you just need to change ‘/amp/’ to an article page on your choosing.
Once that is done, you will need to focus on validating the AMP version of your site. Google will pick up on the changes before long, but it might sometimes take a little longer if you continue to make more and more change to the page, so bear that in mind.
To validate in Chrome, go to one of your AMP pages and append ‘#development=1’ to the end of the URL. Open up the console, and you will either be faced with a list of issues, or it will say that the AMP validation has been successful. Usually, you will need to validate each page manually, so be prepared to spend some time doing just that at first.
Aligning With Google Analytics
In SEO terms, paying attention to Google Analytics is always going to be a major concern. It tells you plenty of what you need to know in order to ensure that your website is operating in the best possible way for SEO, so you need to keep an eye on it. It is also important to ensure that you are aligning your Google Analytics with the AMP pages, in order to improve the way that AMP is helping your SEO progress.
All you need to do here is edit the ‘amp-post-template-actions.php’ file. You can do this in WordPress itself, via the dashboard, and it is often the easiest way to do so. Alternatively, you might decide to go to the PHP and do it from there. However you do it, you need to make sure that you are able to track your AMP pages with Google Analytics so that you can gather as much data as possible and so ensure that you are doing the right thing.
You will soon be able to tell whether or not you need to make any changes, and if you do then it is just a matter of ensuring that you do so with your basic understanding of SEO in line with that. Match up those two essentials, and before long you will have AMP-enabled mobile pages which you can apply SEO to in just the same way as any other page.
Done right, this is a great way to bring in more people to your website and to gradually improve your site’s appearance on the SERP. It is worth looking into, even if only for some of your most important articles, as it will mean you are accessible to many more people – and that is always a good thing on the web, especially for your business’ SEO.
AMP Myths Debunked
Stone Temple recently published findings from 10 case studies where they’ve debunked 4 myths about accelerated mobile pages. I will cover them briefly here, but this article gives a more in-depth overview.
Myth 1: Only news websites benefit from AMP
Initially, AMP was indeed aimed at news websites, meaning that the technology was almost impossible to implement on service and product pages. The initial traffic boost from the AMP Carousel and implementation support from Google itself were big incentives for publishers to adhere to it.
That is no longer the case. AMP can and should be implemented on all types of websites. From blogs to B2B websites.
Myth 2: AMP is not for E-commerce websites
That was certainly the case when AMP was launched publicly in February 2016, but since then things have changed. The introduction of AMP Live List Components and AMP Bid Component enabled more interactiveness and a wide array of dynamic components that made it possible to create category and product pages, as well as, E-commerce home pages using the accelerated mobile pages technologies.
Myth 3: Build it and they will come
This tip is for WordPress users. Do not think that by installing a couple of plugins your AMP problems are solved. Most plugins do not offer a good enough level of customisation and do not provide the “session stitching fix” to track AMP data on Google Analytics as previously mentioned in this article.
So if you opt to use an AMP plugin make sure you test every page’s functionality before going live. From menus to calls to action, everything needs to be thoroughly tested.
Myth 4: AMP and Design don’t get along very well
Another problem related to automatic AMP plugins. Plugins create a stripped down version of your pages. while this might work for content pages, it can be a huge problem for product and service pages.
Contrary to what many people think, accelerated mobile pages can and should be customised to a website’s visual identity. Not to mention that, according to Stone Temple findings, hand-coded AMP pages can be 4 times lighter than their plugin siblings.
Newly Introduced Features
Flexible scrolls with position observer, responsive sidebars, improved analytics tracking for videos and fluid ads are amongst the new featured introduced recently. I won’t overload you with information, but you can find further information here.
Together with PWA’s, AMP is the technology to go to if you are looking to enhance your website’s overall mobile performance, from loading time to organic rankings. While they still lack optimal user experience features they can be a game changer for your Mobile Marketing Strategies.
Do you have AMP experiences you would like to share with us? Feel free to post them in the comments below.
Need help with your AMP Implementation? Drop us a line and will get in touch.