Since the launch of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) back in 2016, the open-source HTML framework that was developed by Google to optimize mobile web browsing and help pages load faster, technology has moved a very long way in such a short space of time.
Today, AMP is no longer a necessity for a page’s inclusion on Google News as well as Top Stories. This triggered the simple question: AMPs, what are they good for?
The question has become even more amplified due to other technologies that have come along and increased flexibility when it comes to customization and monetization capabilities.
But AMP gets a bad rap at times. It still remains a simple way to create fast-loading and user-friendly mobile pages. What’s more, AMPs are up to 5 times more likely to align with Google’s Core Web Vitals, when compared with standard mobile pages. This means that they can provide better user experiences with a strong search ranking impact.
Having said that, publishers have been moving away – or considering moving away – from AMP, so how can they maintain its advantages while being unshackled from some of the restrictions?
Core Web Vitals optimization
One way to make sure that a webpage continues to perform strongly when it comes to search rankings and UX is to comply with Core Web Vitals metrics, which pretty much replaced AMP as a determining factor for Google’s Top Stories. Firstly, establish real-user monitoring so that you can check your Core Web Vitals in real time and investigate where any issues lie and quickly take action.
When it comes to optimizing Core Web Vitals, one of the core requirements is to ensure a page loads quickly. Using a content delivery network (CDN) and a full-site caching is going to ensure that pages load quickly for your visitors by making use of multiple data centers across the globe.
This goes some way to achieving some of the advantages of having Google cache your AMP pages while at the same time it gives you more control. It can be quite expensive (depending on budget sizes) but does bring broader benefits like increased security and reliability.
A good user experience is much more than quick loading times – although it is the foundation. If website owners and managers want to maintain their spot at the top of search engine rankings as well as squeeze more advertising revenue, they require a platform that keeps their readers continually engaged.
Consider integrating key and proven features into a webpage design that can boost user engagement, such as (1) instant swiping to allow reader to jump to the next article with a single swipe, (2) infinite scrolling to allow the loading of additional articles below the fold, and (3) related articles to allow the display of a carousel of other articles that are relevant.
These types of features make it easier for users to journey through a website on mobile.
An advantage that AMP has is its simplicity. It’s possible for almost any site to set up AMP pages without much technical expertise or costly development. Simple mobile-optimized templates can be set up via a WordPress plugin or through integration with a CDN.
After the initial setup, new users can be offered a free A/B test against their existing mobile site to see exactly what difference a redesign can make.
It can lead to positives such as a faster load time and the introduction of instant swipe and related articles encouraged users to spend double the amount of time on the site and view many more pages. As a result, this means viewing more ads which means driving up revenue.
Looking back with clarity, AMP was a necessary period in web development, which finally put the UX front and center. But more advanced and tailored solutions evolved quickly over time. By using tools that comply with Core Web Vitals, boost UX, and provide flexibility, publishers can make sure that their mobile sites continue to promote a positive digital journey… without AMP.