WordPress and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): Everything You Need to Know
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Internet, it’s this:
People want things fast.
They want Amazon to deliver packages in under 2 seconds. They want to binge watch entire TV shows the second they get released. And they definitely want sites to load rocket fast.
30% of users want websites to load in under one second nowadays. And while people are a little more forgiving on mobile, 74% are still likely to click away if a site takes longer than 5 seconds to load.
So if you’ve taken all the other steps to speed up WordPress, I want to talk about one more huge improvement you can make for your site’s mobile page speed:
Google Accelerated Mobile Pages
What is Google Accelerated Mobile Pages?
Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, aka Google AMP, allows you to offer a Google-hosted, stripped down version of your posts that loads almost instantly for mobile users. It’s an open-source initiative from Google designed to speed up the mobile web.
Google AMP operates quite similar to Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress. But whereas Instant Articles affects how your articles get shared on Facebook, Google AMP affects how readers access your articles from Google’s search results.
When your site shows up in the mobile search results, users will see the AMP icon:
Then, when they click to load your article, it will load up blazing fast. Like almost instantaneously. As I mentioned, to achieve these quick load times, AMP loads a stripped down version of your site that looks something like this:
While it’s stripped down, you still have a good deal of control over how your site displays – much more so than with Facebook Instant Articles.
Pros of Google AMP for WordPress
I see several key benefits from implementing AMP for your site:
- You get a chance to show up in Google’s featured posts carousel (see the first image above).
- Your readers will have a better user experience thanks to a quicker loading site.
- You might rank higher in Google because Google recently started factoring mobile page speed into mobile rankings.
- Setting up a basic version of AMP literally takes 20 seconds.
- You can still include a decent variety of ads via AMP for Ads.
Cons of Google AMP for WordPress
I don’t think there are many cons of Google AMP, but there are a couple things you’ll want to consider:
- You can’t display email optins like you would on your normal site.
- You lose some flexibility with advertisements as not every network is supported, so you might take a revenue hit depending on where you earn your money.
- If you use a WordPress page builder based on shortcodes, there might be compatibility issues with the plugins that allow you to implement Google AMP.
How to Set Up Google AMP for WordPress the Simple Way
Automattic released their own plugin to make integrating AMP with your site an absolute breeze. It takes like…20 seconds. No exaggeration. Here’s how to get everything set up:
First, you’ll need to install and activate the AMP plugin. You can do this like you would any other plugin.
Then…you’re finished! Seriously, no configuration or anything. All you need to do is install and activate the plugin and your site is setup with AMP. You can append “/amp” to any post to make sure it’s working properly:
Some notes about the basic plugin:
- Only supports posts – it will not give you AMP functionality for pages.
- Doesn’t give you the option to insert ads or any other AMP specific content.
- Doesn’t let you customize widths or other aspects of appearance
So, if you want a little more control over how your AMP pages look, you may want to check out one of the more detailed plugins below.
Custom AMP – Add Featured Images, Menus + More
Custom AMP adds customization options on top of the official AMP plugin. So, to use Custom AMP, you’ll need to also install and activate Automattic’s AMP plugin (the one I showcased above).
Then, you’ll get a new menu in your dashboard sidebar which allows you to set up all kinds of options:
Here’s everything you can do with the plugin:
- Add a logo and metadata for the logo
- Include a featured image
- Include post comments
- Add AMP for WooCommerce
- Show related posts
- Set a custom width (default is 600)
- Include your menu
- Add Google Analytics tracking
- Add custom CSS or custom HTML to footer
One thing you’ll note is that, while you have a ton of new powers, you don’t have the ability to add AMP for Ads, change your color scheme, or other more detailed customizations. So if you want to dig even deeper than Custom AMP, give the next plugin a look.
AMP Toolbox – The Most Customization Options
Like Custom AMP, AMP Toolbox also requires you to have installed and activated Automattic’s AMP plugin. From there, you’ll get a beautiful interface to configure your AMP options:
AMP toolbox lets you do pretty much everything Custom AMP does. But then it ups the game with these added features:
- Change the color scheme for your AMP pages
- Add custom notification text to AMP pages
- Add social icons to AMP pages
- Enable pagination for AMP pages
- Claims to support page builder shortcodes, though you may still want to verify for your specific page builder.
- The big one: Allows you to add AdSense ads in four possible locations:
As far as I can tell, this is the only regularly updated plugin which offers support for ads, even if it is only AdSense.
If you want the most functionality, you should definitely go with AMP Toolbox. It’s regularly updated and still adding new features, so it will only get better with time.
Google AMP is a powerful way to improve your site’s user experience, and potentially search rankings, for mobile users. It’s also incredibly easy to implement thanks to the plugins I listed. Compared to setting up Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP is a piece of cake.
The only thing you’ll want to consider is whether the potential loss of ad revenue and/or list building is worth it.
And here’s one final thing to consider:
Because Google backs AMP, there’s a chance it could become a direct search ranking factor at some point in the future. As far as I know, Google hasn’t publicly said anything to indicate that, but given how they’re committed to improving the mobile experience, it’s definitely a possibility.
Have you all noticed AMP pages as a mobile user? Do you like them or not?