Should You Optimize Content for Google AMP?

Should You Optimize Content for Google AMP FI Should You Optimize Content for Google AMP?

According to Search Engine Land, there are now 600 million AMP pages on 700,000 domains, and four million pages are being added each week. They’re hoping that once searchers start experiencing the benefits of AMP, they will seek out and continue to favor these pages.

But to date, a very small percentage of companies have adopted AMP. In fact, only 23 percent of SEO professionals have taken action to implement Google AMP protocol. So if you’re on the fence about adoption, what are the major pros and cons?

Google AMP: The Pros and the Cons

As with any new tool, marketers must carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine if it’s right for their company. Does it make sense to adopt now, or should you wait and see if the new tool fizzles out, and instead, invest your resources into other types of activities?

Here are a few positive factors to consider.

  • Higher exposure to mobile pages. Currently, mobile pages that take longer than three seconds to load have a 40 percent drop-off rate. Since Google AMP helps pages load much faster, this drop-off could decrease significantly.
  • Early adopter advantages. Adopting AMP may be a ranking factor for Google in the future (more on this later). Becoming an early adopter may produce advantages over major competitors in the future.
  • No cost. AMP doesn’t cost anything, except your internal resources and time. The Google setup is free.

There are a few drawbacks. AMP is fairly new, so the cons are speculative but could be a factor in the future.

  • Bounce rates for poor content. Searchers find what they’re looking for, then quickly leave the page. If you’re doing a great job with your content and enticing visitors to explore other pages, this shouldn’t be a problem. For companies with weak content, it could translate to less time spent on the page. (But that’s true AMP or no AMP.)
  • Symbol blindness. Users may begin to ignore AMP and instead select organic search results, similar to the way users ignore ads at the top of the screen.
  • Refined searches. Users aren’t happy with results, so they refine their search and your page gets less exposure.

Also, readers may recall that Google has been among the leaders in pushing websites to adopt responsive design. You may ask are AMP and responsive design the same or different? They are different, and Google hasn’t taken a position on one over the other; however, AMP pages load faster than responsive pages so developers and publishers may adopt both moving forward.

Another concern is that while Google is pushing AMP, and Microsoft’s Bing search engine recently adopted it, other platforms are using their own protocols (Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple’s News Format) for delivering faster mobile user experiences.

Does AMP Affect Search Rankings?

One of the more important questions on marketers’ minds is that of ranking. If you don’t adopt the tool, will your page rank drop? Will your traffic decrease? And will you generate less traffic and so see fewer leads in the future? If you’re wondering about these questions, you aren’t alone.

In fact, recently John Mueller of Google answered these questions in a Google Hangout. He flatly stated that AMP is not a ranking factor at this point. But note those last few words, “at this point.”

Translation? If you decide to sit back and do nothing with Google AMP, it’s OK. You won’t be penalized right now. But Google has become very interested in the mobile experience over the past five years. So it’s possible that if users respond positively to Google AMP, it may play a factor in search rankings in the future. Don’t ignore this.

Tips for Using AMP

Are you thinking about giving Google AMP a try? If so, start by creating one page and testing the results. The company offers a tutorial that walks you (or your technical team) through the process, including:

  • Creating your first AMP page
  • Staging the page
  • Using Google’s validator
  • Preparing the page for publication

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