Let’s face it: we all live on our phones today. Emails are answered on the fly, the soothing tone of the map lady directs us to our destination, and dinnertime debates can be settled with a quick Google search. Smartphones and mobile devices now represent 65 percent of all digital media time, and that number is only projected to increase.
Google has already made changes to its algorithm to accommodate increasing mobile search volume. In April 2015, Google released an update designed to boost mobile-friendly pages in search results conducted via smart phone. At the time of the release, Google began labeling websites as “Mobile-friendly” and ranked these sites above those not optimized for mobile devices. The company recently announced it will drop this label, as 85% of all pages in mobile search results qualify as mobile-friendly under their criteria.
The Next Frontier in Search Results
In recent mobile searches, you may have seen a lightening bolt indicator appear next to the word “AMP” in your results and wondered what it meant. This is Google’s latest and greatest feature, and it’s coming to a phone near you very soon.
At the beginning of the year, Google announced plans for the next big thing in mobile search results: accelerated mobile pages, or AMP. According to Google’s John Mueller, this is the “hottest new website technology” and Google encourages everyone to start implementing this feature ASAP.
That’s Great, But What IS It?
How many times have you abandoned a page because the site took too long to load on your phone? AMP is Google’s solution to slow mobile load times. Technically speaking, AMP is an open-source content delivery platform that loads web pages instantly after being clicked on from a Google source. Think of it this way: most websites have A LOT of coding behind the scenes. The coding translates into images and enables the web surfer to visually see the website design elements. But this massive amount of coding also takes a while to download and ‘render’ on your screen. Even “mobile-friendly” websites still have coding dictating their style.
Accelerated mobile pages are stripped down versions of a website’s content pages. By removing a lot of the coding bogging down load times, accelerated mobile pages enable the site to load instantly, delivering content to your mobile device in a flash. That’s not to say the site is the design-equivalent of a word document – AMP-compatible content retains many of the features of a regular web article, just coded in a much leaner manner.
Why Should I Implement This New Feature?
The easiest and most obvious answer is load time. Forty percent of people abandon a website taking more than three seconds to load, and a one second delay in page response can result in a seven percent reduction in conversions. Accelerated mobile pages load four times faster and use eight times less data than traditional mobile-optimized pages. And – when delivering content to a potential client or customer, faster is always better.
There is another factor to consider, however. By now, most users see the new AMP carousel in mobile search results. Clicking on any item in the carousel instantly loads the content in a browser. One of the coolest new features (in my opinion) is the ability to then swipe right to load the next article in the AMP carousel. You can easily switch between articles without having to revisit the original search results, making it both easier and more intuitive to explore related content on a mobile device.
By consolidating all AMP-compatible articles into one easy-to-navigate carousel and allowing users to quickly swipe through the pages, Google effectively forces mobile searchers to remain inside a curated bubble of content it KNOWS will load quickly, delivering the best user experience. This discourages and prevents users from returning to the rest of the (non-AMP enabled) search results. So if your website doesn’t utilize AMP and fails to find its way into the carousel, chances are searchers may not navigate back to find it.
Okay, I’m Convinced. Now What?
If your website is built in WordPress, you’re in luck. A new plugin was released a few weeks ago making the installation of AMP smooth and seamless. But don’t worry if your website was created on a different platform: Google has a step-by-step instruction manual for creating your first AMP page. Some familiarity with HTML is necessary, as is administrative access to your website. All in all, contacting your website developer would be the best course of action, or find out how we can help you.