AMP: Pros and Cons of using this Mobile-Specific Content Framework

Michael Jenkins
Michael Jenkins

CEO - Shout Agency
[email protected]

Overview

When Google announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, it marked a major step forward in enhancing the mobile internet user’s experience. Web designers finally had a well-thought-out framework that made it easy to create web pages that were ready for mobile from the get-go.  

AMP is open source and comprises JavaScript, HTML and cache libraries that accelerate page loading speed even when they feature rich content such as video, audio, PDF and infographics. Pages are served with the thinnest JavaScript and HTML possible. 

AMP certainly has plenty of advantages but there are downsides too. You have to evaluate both the pros and cons to determine whether AMP is appropriate for your site.

Advantages

Faster Load Time

This is the number one reason for implementing AMP. With no superfluous assets to drag your web pages down, AMPs are slick, lean and fast. Browsers don’t have to wait when they call your pages. Given how important loading speed is to the user experience, a faster website could substantially grow your traffic and with that, accelerate your conversions.

Decreased Server Load

If your site receives the overwhelming majority of its visitors via mobile browsers, then shifting your web pages to AMP can have an enormous impact on the load your web servers have to bear. And given that far more smartphones are in use today compared to computers, this scenario is likely to apply to most websites. A reduced server load means better performance and potentially lower infrastructure costs.

Amenable to Google’s Mobile-First Index

In July 2019, Google launched its mobile-first index. In the past, Google used the desktop version of a website to determine its relevance to a search query. The mobile-first index acknowledged the prominence of mobile internet users over desktop users by prioritizing the mobile version for ranking and indexing with the desktop version as secondary. AMP helps your website be mobile ready and thus be in the right state to meet the quality requirements Google expects of a mobile website.

Better Mobile Ranking

AMP isn’t a ranking factor. However, the positive effects of applying it to your web pages does eventually affect your mobile website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). The faster loading times, cleaner content and the longer page visits are things that Google will look at to determine how relevant a web page is to a search query. 

In any case, just because AMP isn’t a ranking factor now doesn’t imply it will never be one. If AMP gains traction and is adopted by a critical mass of websites, it’s not unfathomable that Google may very well begin to explicitly grant ranking priority to sites with AMP all other factors constant.

Disadvantages

Reduction in Ad Revenue

AMP supports ads. However, the amount of ad revenue brought in via an AMP page is severely constrained. Also, implementing ads can be relatively more complex than for standard web pages.

Cumbersome Analytics

AMP is compatible with Google Analytics. However, it requires a different set of tags that must be implemented across all AMP pages on a site. Depending on the size of your website and the number of AMP pages you want to track, this process can take up plenty of time.

Difficult Installation

AMP isn’t easy to install. Even though Google’s backing of the AMP framework has seen all key content management system (CMS) platforms scramble to ensure their users can deploy AMP if they want to, it’s still no walk in the park. 

For example, if your site runs on WordPress, you can install the AMP Plugin. However, expect plenty of glitches especially due to conflicts with other plugins. In the absence of smooth plugins, you have to do the grinding work of inserting tags into your code manually.

Google Cache Dependency

With the AMP framework, Google isn’t actually providing a technology that automatically makes your website run faster. What it does is save cached versions of your AMP pages on its servers so that whenever a user browser calls them, the pages are served from Google Cache. 

Granted you’re unlikely to find ‘free’ technology infrastructure on the web that’s as reliable and quick as Google’s but the dependency on a third party’s cache has implications on your ability to control visitor experience.

So, Does Your Website Need AMP?

If you already have a responsive, mobile-friendly website that ticks all the right boxes on SEO, user experience, speed and content, then AMP is perhaps something you can do without. After all, as with all things technology, there’s no guarantee that Google will still be interested in propping up AMP over the long-term. 

However, if you have been struggling to make your website mobile-ready and are nearing your wits’ end, then AMP might be just the thing for you.

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Shout Agency

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