Google AMP for WordPress: How to Get Started + Best Plugins

Published on December 2nd, 2020

Last Updated on December 2nd, 2020

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Looking for a helping hand with how to set up Google AMP for WordPress? Or just generally not sure whether or not it’s right for your WordPress site?

We originally wrote this post all the way back in 2016. However, since 2016, a lot has changed when it comes to implementing AMP on WordPress, and you no longer need AMP to achieve some of the benefits previously associated with AMP (such as appearing in Google’s Top Stories results on mobile).

For those reasons, we decided to completely revamp this post in December 2020 to account for some useful new plugins and changes to the AMP ecosystem.

So with that out of the way, let’s dig into Google AMP for WordPress.

What Is Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)?

Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP for short, is a framework that helps you optimize your site’s performance on mobile devices.

Essentially, it’s a specific way of coding your site that’s optimized for performance. Don’t worry – you don’t need to be a developer to set this up on WordPress because there are some great WordPress AMP plugins that can handle everything for you.

However, it’s still useful to understand what’s going on behind the scenes and why AMP is “separate” from the mobile version of your WordPress theme.

The second key part of AMP is caching. Your AMP content will be cached on various platforms’ servers, most notably Google. So let’s say someone searches for your site on Google. Google can then serve them the AMP version of your page directly from its cache.

Google is not the only caching source, either. Bing also has its own AMP cache.

This combination of “optimized code + caching” is what makes for lightning-quick load times.

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What Does AMP Content Look Like?

In Google’s search results, AMP content is marked by an AMP icon. For example, you’ll see the AMP icon in the top-right corner when browsing the Google Top Stories box:

As for your own site, there’s no special “AMP design”. Done well, your AMP content should look pretty much the same as your non-AMP design. The big difference is the behind-the-scenes code and caching.

Benefits of Google AMP for WordPress

  • Simply put, AMP makes your site load a lot faster for mobile visitors, which is great for the user experience.
  • You can increase user engagement. Many publishers have reported increases in time on site, pages per visit, etc.
  • You can also increase the chances of your site appearing in Google’s Top Stories. You no longer need to use AMP to appear because it’s now based on Core Web Vitals. However, AMP is still one of the best ways to improve your Core Web Vitals metrics, so this benefit still stands, though in a more indirect way.
  • Because page load times are a ranking factor in Google’s mobile search index, using AMP might indirectly boost your SEO rankings by improving your site’s mobile performance. For example, WompMobile analyzed 26 domains that they added AMP support to and found an average 27.1% increase in organic traffic and a 15.3% higher SERP CTR.

Cons of Google AMP for WordPress

  • Because of the caching, your site will appear as if it’s served from Google’s domain name and not your own domain name by default. You can fix this issue by using Cloudflare’s AMP Real URL feature, though.
  • Some publishers report issues with monetization/conversion rates on AMP content. However, this probably is mostly determined by how you implement AMP, not necessarily AMP itself.

Here’s an example of the URL issue – I’ll tell you how to fix this at the end of the post:

How to Set Up Google AMP for WordPress

You have a couple of options for using Google AMP on WordPress:

  • Pick an AMP-compatible theme
  • Use a customizable WordPress AMP plugin

1. AMP-Compatible Theme

The simplest route is to choose a WordPress theme that has built-in AMP support. Since AMP’s initial launch in 2016, a lot of the most popular themes have added built-in AMP support.

Essentially, this means that all you need to do is install the official AMP plugin and your theme will handle all of the styling to ensure a consistent experience. The official AMP plugin doesn’t have very many features – it just enables the AMP functionality so that your theme can do the rest.

Whenever possible, I recommend going this route for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s the simplest option because there’s very little manual configuration.
  • It ensures that your AMP content matches the rest of your site (one of the biggest problems with implementing AMP).

Here are some of my favorite themes that have built-in AMP support:

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You can also consult your theme developer’s documentation to see if your existing theme has built-in AMP support.

Remember – even with an AMP-compatible theme, you still need to install the official AMP plugin to enable the AMP on WordPress functionality.

When you’re configuring the official plugin’s features in the setup wizard, choose Transitional for the Template Mode:

If you go to AMP → Settings, you can also enable/disable AMP for specific post types and also make some other configuration choices, like stopping certain plugins from running on your AMP pages:

2. Use a WordPress AMP Plugin

If your theme doesn’t support AMP and you don’t want to switch to a theme that does, you can also find dedicated WordPress AMP plugins that let you customize the AMP versions of your pages.

The most popular option is the AMP for WP plugin, which I’ll show you in the next section.

One of the really neat things about this plugin is that it offers support for Elementor and Divi. So if you’ve built your site with one of those page builders, this can be a great option to add AMP. It also just generally includes lots of other customization options and integrations (such as support for popular form plugins).

Once you install and activate the free plugin from WordPress.org, it will launch a wizard to help you configure the important settings. You can either use the Basic Setup or Advanced Setup according to your needs:

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If you enabled Advanced Setup, you’ll get a lot more options when it comes to the design of your AMP content. You can also choose from a bunch of pre-made layouts/themes (though most require the premium version).

Overall, there are just generally a ton of options in the Settings and Design tabs, especially when working in advanced mode. I can’t show you everything, but the developer provides a bunch of tutorials if you run into any issues.

Again, this method is definitely more complicated than choosing a theme that already has AMP support, but some of the advantages are that:

  • It works with some page builders (Elementor and Divi).
  • It also has integrations for lots of plugins beyond your theme, such as contact form plugins.
  • It lets you add customizable AMP support even if your theme doesn’t support AMP.

While the core plugin is free, the developer does sell 47+ extensions that you might be interested in. These extensions deal with adding new integrations, features, and layout options.

How to Use Real AMP URLs for WordPress

As I mentioned in the pros and cons section, one big disadvantage with Google AMP is that your AMP pages will look as if they’re being served from the cache rather than your website’s domain name.

For example, if someone clicks on an AMP result for your site in Google, the URL will start with https://google.com/amp/. Obviously, this isn’t great from a marketing perspective.

If you’re going to use AMP, I recommend fixing this issue by using Cloudflare’s AMP Real URL feature, which configures it to show your site’s actual domain name instead.

To enable this feature, you’ll first need to add your WordPress site to Cloudflare if you haven’t already done so. Then, go to the Speed settings and select the Optimization tab. If you scroll down, you should see an option to enable AMP Real URL:

fix AMP Urls

Get Started With AMP on WordPress Today

Google AMP is an interesting way to improve your site’s mobile page load times and boost your site’s user experience.

As it’s grown in popularity over the past few years, many popular WordPress themes have started offering built-in AMP support, which makes it easier than ever to use AMP and ensure a consistent design across your entire site. Or, if your theme doesn’t, you can always use the AMP for WP plugin.

However, AMP does have pros and cons, so you’ll want to test it yourself to see how it affects your site.

Still have any questions about using AMP on WordPress? Ask away in the comments!

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer and long-time Internet marketer. He specializes in digital marketing, WordPress and B2B writing. He lives a life of danger, riding a scooter through the chaos of Hanoi. You can also follow his travel blog.