To speed up the content upload time, Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). The technology may look like a Google’s attempt to compete with Facebook Instant Articles and fast downloaded content options developed by other companies. It provides obvious benefits for some platforms, while it is not that helpful in some cases. The post below describes the technology itself and the setting up process. The AMP integration is not so difficult, although it has some specific features to remember.
The Short History of AMP
The rapid and inclusive penetration of mobile technologies in the daily lives of ordinary people could not remain outside the focus of the largest search engine – Google. So, in October 2015, they published the post about the new technology that became available for mobile web developers.
In fact, this technology became a finishing touch of a “mobile-friendly” policy that Google has been supporting in recent years. Firstly, they introduced the algorithm that ranked the sites optimized for mobile devices higher. Later, they developed and introduced a completely new free tool for mobile content optimization of landing pages – AMP. To find out the difference between AMP and mobile-friendly pages, check out this article and the interview with Duane Forrester.
The Basic Components of the AMP Technology
Before talking about the AMP integration on the site, you need to find out and understand what this technology is all about. If considered from a developer’s point of view, it consists of these three components:
• AMP HTML is the same well-known HTML5, but with modifications (some standard tags are replaced with specially designed ones for AMP);
• AMP JS is a new library, which provides an access to the new tags, and allows optimizing the resource download speed by directly controlling it.
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• Google AMP Cache is a CDN proxy server-based network caching AMP page. Due to the aforementioned, there is an increase in the amount of content, scripts, and images on the client’s side download speed, as they are “drawn” directly from the nearest source via HTTP 2.0.
Check out the example below:
This technology has completely changed the way users interact with the publisher’s website, because
• Users do not visit the website – they see the article content directly in Google, where it is uploaded from cache;
• Navigation through the articles looks like a slider carousel, which means that you can scroll AMP pages left and right, going from one news to another.
The card of the article occupies a significant percentage of space on the search engine results page and is supplied with a special icon that informs the user that this is an AMP page.
Who Should Try AMP
You should understand that AMP is not a must-have for a number of categories of sites. For example, in case of traditional E-commerce projects, the directory layout by using AMP will not work.
If a particular E-commerce project has a content part (for example, a blog) with an audience of readers and frequently-updated articles, the AMP implementation is quite helpful. The marked pages can get into the Google news block and become an additional point of interaction with the brand.
Content providers, who monetize their resources by placing ad units, should implement AMP to get a tape in the news, so they may collect the additional traffic in a new, free way.
From the moment you make a decision to implement AMP on your website, it is necessary to adhere to a simple algorithm that allows you to perform all the steps with ease. But before we move on to it, note the following few specific AMP features that determine, in fact, the very way of integration and choice of tools to solve this problem:
• Speed up the content download in the reading pane by several times using AMP asynchronous scripts.
• Submit styles in a separate tag «style amp-custom»; remember that their size is limited by 50Kb.
• Set the height and width of the graphic elements (pictures and animations) within the HTML document.
• Replace non-supported custom js-scripts using the AMP JS library.
• Use the link or the CSS @font-face to download fonts.
All these features (even if they do not convey anything to your mind) directly affect the speed and the ease of the technology implementation.
How to Set Up AMP Automatically
Well, the actual implementation algorithm is the following:
1. Check, whether or not there is a ready solution for AMP.
• Yes – use it and control the validity of the output. Examples of the ready-made solutions for the most popular blogging CMSs are the following:
WordPress – https://wordpress.org/plugins/amp/
Drupal – https://www.drupal.org/project/amp
• No – do the integration manually as explained in the next section of this article. There, we will talk about the limitations that should be taken into account.
2. Check, whether or not you need a functional form for the collection of leads.
• Yes – use the “crutch” to insert the desired custom js-code through the “amp-iframe”. For more information, click here.
• No – skip this step.
3. Check, what method of page tracking meets your needs.
• AMP pixel allows monitoring the statistics of page views according to GET-request. It perfectly suits for uploading data to a third-party or custom statistics services.
• AMP Analytics allows organizing data transfer to Google Analytics and tracking user activity directly on the page.
Both methods with code samples are described here.
4. Check the validity of the pages’ code using the ”AMP Test” tool in your Google Search Console.
How to Set Up AMP Manually
The majority of trustworthy, highly popular online media do not use boxed CMS solutions. Usually, they are built on custom engines, and therefore, an AMP technology integration falls on the shoulders of the developers. However, this is not a difficult task for a competent expert. The basic algorithm includes the following steps:
1. Create page templates in AMP format: rewrite your main template by using special amp-tags, disable dynamic elements, set fonts and specify image styles according to the requirements mentioned above.
2. Fit templates by using the automatic algorithm or manually (typically a ‘no-no’ option for larger sites, but a good solution for smaller ones).
3. Set up analytics by integrating a tracking pixel or Google Analytics code.
4. Test the validity by using the “AMP Test” in Google Search Console, in particular, the moment of pointing the special tag from the main page of the site to the amp-page, while rel = “canonical” is pointing in the opposite direction.
AMP is especially useful for the sites of publishers and content distributors. Although integration may look complex, AMP has a simple algorithm and can be automated on both sites that use popular CMS engines and custom platforms. By following a simple algorithm described above, you can build up this process without too much effort and risk.