Back in October 2015, Google announced that it was introducing a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in order to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. In May 2017, AMPs are still attracting criticism and the accusation that Google may be the only real beneficiary.
What Are AMPs?
Accelerated Mobile Pages are ‘light-weight’ web pages that are designed using existing technologies e.g. faster, optimized HTML and a faster Google page caching system, to allow them to work across multiple platforms and devices. The idea is that, even if web pages have rich content like video, animations and graphics, AMPs will be able to load instantaneously (alongside smart ads) on phone, tablet or mobile devices of all types.
What’s The Problem?
AMP has been designed for speed and simplicity, and as such, critics of the initiative have said that the limited layout options make AMP web pages appear rather undistinguished and bland.
Also, if your website hasn’t been professionally made, for example, Google isn’t able to cache your coded AMP Web pages unless they’re guaranteed free of HTML errors.
Critics also say that, if more people create pages in AMP, they are optimized specifically for Google, and are, therefore, locked-in to Google (rather like Google’s own version of Facebook). This could be construed as being rather the opposite of ‘open’.
Rather than having your own detailed analytics data for your web pages, using AMP also means that you can only have access to a small subset of the data that Google gathers. This could, therefore, give you a less informed view of your online business.
Other critics have also pointed out that the stripped-out, uniform appearance of AMP (everything looking the same in AMP), and the endorsement of Google means that AMP could be open to abuse by those looking to spread fake news, or to publish (potentially high ranking) low-quality content.
Advantages of using AMP
Despite drawing a large amount of criticism, there are reports to show that mobile websites are able to appear on devices at almost instant speeds and up to 85% faster than standard mobile pages.
In addition to racking up shares and views, AMP could also ensure that more people will read your content. It is important to make the point, however, that AMP pages are likely to get higher priority in Google’s mobile search than other web pages.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Back in October 2016 StatCounter figures showed the mobile access overtaking desktop for the first time with 51.3% of global web traffic accessing the web using smart-phones and tablets. Just a look at your own website analytics should confirm that most of your business website visitors are likely to be using mobiles and tablets. It is therefore important to have pages which rank well in mobile search and load quickly onto mobile devices (in under 3 seconds if possible). AMP appears to offer these benefits but it seems that these may be offset slightly by having to present relatively bland-looking pages to potential customers, risking getting too locked-in to Google, and forgoing some important analytic insights.
It is still relatively early days for AMP, and it is in Google’s interest to ensure that the criticisms by businesses and technical commentators are heeded so that more businesses choose to use AMP.