What Google AMP Means For Your Online Business

Woman using mobile phoneIt’s been over a year since Google rolled out its latest mobile-friendly search algorithm and marketers are just starting to get used to all the changes it has caused. There is no time to rest because the innovations keep on coming. The latest wrinkle out of Google headquarters is Google AMP, a new program designed to deliver content to mobile users faster.

How AMP Works

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, so the program’s focus is pretty clear. It aims to dramatically reduce the loading times experienced by mobile users when they click on links on Google’s search engine results pages. AMP does this with three basic tools:

  • AMP HTML: AMP pages have to be written in full compliance with a restrictive set of style guidelines (including lots of specialised “amp” tags) which are all aimed at minimising load times.
  • JavaScript Limitations: AMP pages are limited to using a (very small) predefined JS library provided by Google.
  • Pre-Caching: Google caches AMP pages on multiple servers around the world, minimising the geographic distance between the user and the content.

The results are quite impressive. AMP pages typically load four to ten times faster than conventional HTML. This puts the program’s performance in the same league as its main competitors, Apple News and Facebook’s Instant Articles.

Additionally, the way Google is currently promoting AMP is very appealing to marketers. AMP results are being displayed in a carousel “above the fold” (below sponsored ads but above organic search results) on the results page, giving them a significant visibility boost.

The Important Limitations Of AMP

Although the speed boost delivered by the AMP format is undeniably impressive, you must not overlook the fact that significant sacrifices are made to achieve this blazing-fast connection. The JavaScript library available for AMP pages is truly minuscule, cutting off a host of extended functionality. The format is also very new and limited in its capabilities. For example, forms are not yet supported. This is bad news if you are hoping to capture leads through AMP pages.

AMP is targeted primarily at major publishers, especially journalists. This is why you will currently see the AMP carousel dominated by results from major news outlets like the New York Times. It is also still in a very technical phase of its development and it requires some solid HTML experience to modify existing pages to comply with the AMP requirements.

Deciding Whether Or Not AMP Is Right For You

Before you decide to invest in the kind of code overhaul necessary to start publishing AMP pages, you need to make sure that it is a sensible fit with your current marketing strategy. There is no denying that AMP will get your content into mobile user’s hands faster. This is only a major advantage if your strategy already revolves around content delivery, though. The limitations described above sharply limit the return you will see on your investment if your marketing is geared towards other goals, like lead capture.

For the time being, a “wait and see” attitude towards Google AMP is perfectly healthy. As the format matures and expands, it may develop a lot of added functionality that makes it more useful for more diverse sorts of marketing. If you are already running a content-heavy marketing program, there is nothing wrong with diving in early and testing the waters. If nothing else, you will gain useful insights on the format as it evolves.

Although the debut of Google AMP is not quite the game-changer that last year’s “mobilgeddon” update was, it’s still a development that savvy marketers are keeping a close eye on. It is already positioned well to make a strong contribution to content marketing strategies. Who knows what role it might come play in the future.

About the author
Sparky Parker has over 35 years of related experience in marketing, internet sales and engineering. He owns and operates FrontRangeMarketeer.com, which helps local businesses generate more leads and attract new customers.

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