Small Business & Startups and Technology

AMP pages: What are they and how do you use them?

March 31, 2016
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Brian McKeiver. Courtesy BizStream

There are some really interesting changes going on in the web development world.

Recently I traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to speak at the South Florida Code Camp about the official launch of AMP. What is AMP and how does it affect your website?

AMP stands for “accelerated mobile pages.” It is the new Open Source initiative by Google, Twitter and other publishers. It is a solution to fix a specific problem with mobile browsing. Let’s be honest, mobile browsing definitely hasn’t peaked. The type of mobile browsing issues we hear about most often are that it can be too slow to load, hard to use and responsive design doesn’t work on all devices.

Officially launched on Feb. 25, 2015, Google started AMP as an initiative to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. The main approach that AMP employs is placing the traditional code for a webpage on a diet in an attempt to gain breakneck speeds for loading content on mobile devices.

But how is this possible? How does the AMP framework slim down a webpage for mobile? Essentially, the framework limits the viable HTML tags that can be used on AMP pages and requires the use of a very streamlined version of CSS. These limits, along with eliminating 50 JavaScript libraries per page, make the AMP pages much smaller in comparison to their traditional counterparts. Basically, we’re making the browser do much less math.

The AMP framework then takes speedy delivery a step further by allowing the content of an AMP page to be cached and served from the Google servers or another content-aggregate’s server, like Twitter, Pinterest or LiknkedIn. This allows AMP pages to load 15 percent to 85 percent faster than standard mobile web pages. While an AMP page may be served by either Google or an aggregate, the AMP page can still reference your site, letting desktop users view the page on your domain.

If users are coming to your site to read content from your blog or news section, AMP is a clear opportunity for you to get a head start in Google’s mobile search results. By having an AMP version of your content, your page will appear in the mobile search results AMP Carousel, above the regular mobile search results (if it is the only page with an AMP version).

Performing a simple Google search on your mobile device will yield a similar result. Search results that have been AMPed up will appear in a carousel with an AMP lightning bolt denoting their speed.

Google’s vision is to cache the entire page on their servers and content delivery networks, making load times super fast. And since it’s Google, it’s interested in seeing a bump in ad revenue, as well. Faster page loads mean faster ad loads and thus a higher likelihood that users will click through.

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