Google Better Prepares You For Its Big Forthcoming Change

Chris CrumSearch

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February is getting closer, and you know what that means. Google announced last month that in late February, it would begin sending traffic to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) from Google Search.

Have you looked into setting up AMP yet? If yes, how has the experience been? If no, do you plan to? Let us know in the comments.

Just in case you're not up to speed, in October, Google announced Accelerated Mobile Pages, a new open source project, which is basically its answer to Facebook’s Instant Articles. Like Instant Articles, the purpose of the project is to enable web pages to load more quickly on mobile devices. As you know, improving mobile search results has been a major priority at Google for some time.

The project utilizes a new open framework called AMP HTML, which is built on existing web technologies, and is aimed at letting websites build light-weight pages. A number of other Internet players have been on board with AMP, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, WordPress.com, ChartBeat, Parse.ly, and Adobe Analytics, which are all integrating AMP HTML Pages.

Google has counted site speed as a ranking signal for years, so it stands to reason that AMP will help in that regard, but Google talked a little about this at an event last month. Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land reported:

From the event, two important tidbits: AMP pages may get a ranking boost and perhaps a “fast” label designation, similar to how Google shows labels for mobile-friendly pages. Both points are speculative however.

Google discussed mobile page speed as an existing ranking factor (there’s debate about how much of a factor). Since AMP improves load time and page speed, publishers that have AMP pages will likely be prioritized in search results. Google didn’t confirm this explicitly but reiterated the importance of page speed. AMP is likely to be the most accessible way to improve page load times.

In a new post on the Accerlated Mobile Pages Project blog, the project's lead technical writer Meggin Kearney says over 5,200 developers have engaged with the project and over 16,000 new AMP pages have been created each day.

They've put together some new documentation to make it easier to write AMP pages more quickly.

"With our doc expansion, we wanted to build a guide so that anyone who has produced web content before can get up and running with AMP in under an hour. If you understand basic mark-up, it’s easy to learn how to create your first AMP HTML page," she writes. "Ease-of-use is one of my favorite things about AMP HTML. It’s straight-forward to style your pages, control layout, validate your AMP content, and make your pages discoverable."

"The ampproject.org site also pulls in the reference docs straight from the AMP specification so that the reference is always up-to-date," she adds.

According to Kearney, more documentation is on the way soon. In addition to existing docs about monetization and and analytics, they'll add some about creating and testing AMP components, which can be reused by other developers.

Google previously said WordPress would support all publishers that wish to enable AMP beginning this month. For analytics, comScore, Chartbeat, Google Analytics, and Parse.ly will all have AMP support in their tools in February.

“The initial roadmap for ads includes faster ads, ads that can resize, and support for viewability; as well as integration with certain data management providers, and sponsored content providers,” said Richard Gingras, Head of News at Google. “While these new capabilities are being implemented in AMP, publishers and ad tech partners are working in parallel to implement and test them. Buyers have also been engaged: Annalect (Omnicom Media Group) is currently reviewing the project and excited about what AMP is trying to accomplish for users and advertising. Advertising companies that have expressed their intention to support AMP include: Outbrain, AOL, Taboola, OpenX, DoubleClick, AdSense, Pubmatic, Integral Ad Science, Moat, Smart AdServer, Krux, Polar, Nativo and Teads.tv.”

With search, last year was all about mobile-friendliness. This year it's going to be about AMP, which is really just an extension of that in many ways. It will be interesting to see how many sites get on board and what kind of an impact it has on the search experience.

Are you on board with Accelerated Mobile Pages? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.