The search engine has started emailing the owners of ecommerce websites, encouraging them to introduce Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) pages.
Stickyeyes has today (10 August 2016) received emails regarding a number of our clients, with the subject line “Create AMP pages to be shown in Google Search”.
The move is another sign of Google’s willingness to push its AMP platform, having originally rolled this out to news publishers.
What is AMP?
Accelerated Mobile Pages are part of a Google project to optimise the user experience for mobile users by addressing one of the key complaints of the mobile search process – page load times.
Amongst other things, which we have discussed on our blog, AMP page content can be cached by Google, the load chain (the order in which elements are loaded) is handled by the AMP framework and unnecessary elements may not be loaded at all. This means that page load times are much faster – four times faster than an equivalent non-AMP page. AMP pages also use a tenth of the data bandwidth over a 3G or 4G network.
So what does this mean?
There are currently 150 million AMPs in Google’s Index, with four million being added every week. Google recently confirmed that it will be introducing more AMPs into the search results, as it looks to expand the trial of this particular project.
What it means for website owners is that Accelerated Mobile Pages are likely to become a much bigger consideration for those brands that have a strong reliance on mobile traffic as part of their digital strategy.
If your brand transacts with, or engages with users on mobile devices, this latest move is a very clear indication that Google is looking to place an even greater emphasis on mobile page speed as part of the user experience, and that it sees AMP as a possible ‘best practice standard’ for mobile.
The wording of that email subject sounds serious – will the lack of AMP see me drop down the rankings?
Whilst of the wording of the email subject seems somewhat foreboding, it is important to remember that AMP is still in its infancy, so it would be too early to predict significant ranking drops in the immediate term.
AMP has been trialled so far with technology firms and digital publishers up to now, although ecommerce brands have been moving to the platform – most notably eBay and TripAdvisor in recent months.
However, it is worth noting that whilst Google’s Gary Illyes has refuted that AMP is a ranking signal thus far, there are related factors that we know are ranking signals – most notably page load speed.
AMP is a project that Google is heavily invested in, so it is highly likely that, should this latest move prove to be successful, that the search engine will push forward with it and gradually introduce it into the main algorithm. It is therefore prudent to prepare for this.
Introducing AMP pages does require some development time, with the creation of new pages, canonical tags and other key elements. If your organisation has a lengthy development turnaround, start thinking about when this needs to be scheduled in.
What about paid?
The position on paid search activity isn’t yet clear. Previously AMP search results were purely for the top stories, but Google has since confirmed that AMP results will extend to the full search results.
What this means for issues such as paid search, and in particular paid quality score, is yet to be confirmed. Once we have an update on this, we’ll report back with our findings.