Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, have made headlines recently – including comments from Google’s Gary Illyes at SEJ Summit. There, Illyes reportedly said AMP will only keep growing and will likely roll out to product pages on sites like Amazon – and it could even eventually be a mobile ranking factor.
Google announced AMP in October 2015, saying it was an open source initiative that sought to improve the performance of the mobile web by making pages with rich content work alongside smart ads and to load instantaneously.
“We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant – no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using,” Google said in the blog post at the time.
As a result, AMP can help improve user experience, drive conversion and increase revenue, and help to yeild a competitive advantage. But it also provides another lens through which marketers can view content strategy and execution.
Here’s what AMP means for content – and how SEOs and brands alike can best capitalize.
How could AMP affect content?
Per Brock Murray, web marketing specialist at SEO and PPC firm Seoplus+, AMP is most important for publishers, where articles can be featured prominently in carousels, and less so at this point for brands that don’t have content with comparable urgency.
Betsy McLeod, a content marketing specialist for digital marketing agency Blue Corona, agreed.
“For news outlets and ecommerce sites, [AMP] means Google is practically handing them the keys to higher website traffic, and you better fully integrate your site – or at least the main content/news pages,” she said. “For other sites, it’s not as imperative or alarming. It does mean a higher level of web capability, so you might see more of an emphasis on web development.”
But to say AMP is irrelevant for non-editorial content is an oversimplification. In fact, Jake Bennett, CTO of “modern agency” Pop, said AMP’s relevance varies by brand and content type.
“For a larger news organization or clients constantly releasing content-heavy articles with little interactivity, AMP-optimized pages could make sense,” he said. “For more immersive site experiences or experiential sites with a short shelf life, it may not make sense. There will also be a cluster of sites in the gray zone, where AMP pages might make sense to use, or it may make sense to just optimize the mobile responsive experience of that page.”
Marc Nashaat, digital PR manager at digital marketing agency Powered by Search, concurred most brands don’t produce enough content to take advantage of features like rich carousels in search results, but he said leveraging AMP is nevertheless a good future-proofing practice.
“If you have static pages that never change, like a service page that’s not rich in media or doesn’t incorporate advertising, then AMP really isn’t necessary,” Nashaat added. “On the other hand, if you’re regularly producing content rich in images, video or data, then AMP is definitely something you should be considering.”
And, Nathaniel Torvik, marketing director of SEO and Internet marketing firm Site Strategics, added, AMP may be a good motivation for brands to reconsider the way they deliver content – and to potentially consider greater emphasis on more newsy content to ensure it is indexed with AMP content.
In addition, AMP more heavily stresses the user experience – and, McCloud noted, completely changes the way websites are coded in the process.
“Right now, every website that’s optimized for user experience comes with all sorts of bells and whistles – dynamic contact forms, suped-up images, you name it. It’s become standard thinking that if your website doesn’t have these complicated bells and whistles, your user experience isn’t that great,” she said. “AMP reverses all of that. It’s a completely new way of thinking about webpages and what matters in the user experience — first and foremost, speed.”
As a result, David Erickson, vice president of online marketing at PR firm Karwoski & Courage, said SEOs will have to have frank discussions with their clients about their content strategies. And that includes how comfortable brands are having content published by third parties.
“While, as of now, this is only a concern for those considering Facebook Instant Articles, keep in mind that it is a short jump from Google AMP to Google Posts, which is currently being tested with celebrity influencers,” Erickson said.
In addition, SEOs will have to discuss conversion strategy for AMP and Instant Articles.
“Both protocols strip down content to its mobile essentials, so companies will need to rethink the user flow, where calls to action are placed and test for effectiveness,” Erickson added.
And, of course, there’s image optimization.
“Clear images that effectively deliver the promise of content are essential on mobile devices, so creating AMP- and Instant-Articles-specific images to persuade users to click is likely an additional consideration – and cost – for SEOs,” Erickson added.
The future of AMP?
Martin Harrison, director at copywriting service Copify, agreed AMP means content creators will have to work harder than ever to capture readers’ attention with “killer headlines and images, as well as content that is structured for quick and easy skim-reading.”
And Ted Politidis, senior SEO manager of EMEA at Western Union International Bank, also noted an impact in analytics as brands may want to have AMP pages fall into their mobile traffic buckets, but they may also want to track them separately by establishing a separate channel as “AMP pages” and setting up an automated system that produces AMP pages each time new material published.
Finally, Claudia Pennington, technical search strategist at digital marketing agency Web Talent Marketing, advised SEOs and their clients pay close attention to monetization as AMPs are simply additional versions of already-optimized content.
“Brands and marketers alike should consider the purpose of AMPs before they proceed. Ad platforms have been slow to respond, so ads don’t often appear before a user scrolls through an article. Thus, there is an impact on revenue and clicks,” she said. “Poor performance of ads placed within articles is a major problem for brands and marketers and until ad platforms improve load time, revenue and click-through rates for ads within AMPs will likely be lower than ads within other versions of articles.”