AMP: is it still worth it?

If you are a publisher and you care about the ranking of your website on Google’s search engine, you’ve no doubt heard of AMP (“Accelerated Mobile Pages”). AMP is a technology created by Google in 2015 to improve the performance of the mobile web. Back then, it was acclaimed as a great initiative, but now many things have changed, and today several publishers wonder: is AMP still useful? In this blog post we will see what AMP pages are, why they were created and if they are still worth it.


What are AMP pages?

AMP is an initiative that was launched by Google at the end of 2015 with a precise goal: improving the performance of mobile websites. The project is open source, and is based on a framework of technologies (AMP HTML) that allows publishers to build light-weight versions of their webpages, able to load content and ads way faster than usual. At the time of its debut, Google claimed that an AMP page could load content four times faster than a standard webpage.

Google launched this initiative to ensure the mobile web could work better and faster for everyone, in the interest of both users and publishers. Indeed, many websites originally developed for PC were not responsive on mobile, and they often featured rich elements – like widgets, big multimedia contents, pop-ups – that had negative effects on loading speed. As a result, users often gave up and left those websites even before they were fully loaded.

To promote AMP pages, Google gave them more visibility on its SERP (Search Engine Results Pages), showing them on the Top Stories news section in Google search.

AMP: is it still worth it today?

Some years have now passed since the AMP launch, and many things have changed. As mobile has increasingly become the preferred medium to browse the internet, publishers are now more conscious of the importance of having fast-performing mobile websites. More generally, today publishers are more aware of how critical it is to offer a positive user experience in order to get traffic and, therefore, ad revenues.

They’ve learned to use tricks to address the problem without the need of AMP: for example, using light-weight and smaller images, limiting the number of page redirects and plugins, and avoiding too many ads or some rich media ad formats. Another solution that turned out to be a very good one was transforming the webpages into Progressive Web Apps (we will talk about this later).

In this, Google has played a significant role with its Core Web Vitals, a group of quality signals that evaluate whether or not a website provides a good user experience (here we explain why they are important, and here we offer some tips to improve them). 

So are AMP pages still useful? Many publishers are starting to wonder if the advantages of  AMP technology balance its disadvantages. Because, as with everything, AMP has pros and cons!

AMP: pros and cons

As already discussed, the main advantages of AMP are faster loading speeds and improved user experience, as it uses lightweight pages that are optimized for mobile. This improved speed can lead to more traffic, lower bounce rates and increased advertising revenues. 

But there are some flaws, too. First of all, there is some development work to do, with new code to implement and additional technologies to adopt; for small publishers with limited resources, this could be a problem. And AMP can also make analytics more difficult, since AMP pages are cached on Google’s servers, not on the publisher’s, and don’t directly count towards traffic to the site. 

Finally, AMP limits the options available to publishers to customize their sites: the use of HTML, CSS and JavaScript is restricted, making the installation of animations and dynamic elements on the site impossible. This means publishers are more limited in the layouts and advertising formats they can deploy, which in some cases could negatively impact revenue.

Do AMP pages still have more visibility on SERP?

Finally, there’s the SERP ranking matter. As already mentioned, initially AMP pages were displayed on the Top Stories section in Google search. But for some time now, that’s not been the case. As part of a recent Core Web Vitals update, Google announced that AMP would no longer be necessary for webpages to appear on the Top Stories news section in Google search. Those privileged positions can now be filled with both AMP and non-AMP pages, as long as they respect the Page Experience criteria of the Core Web Vitals.

Having lost this last, big advantage of AMP, many publishers now believe the pros of AMP technology no longer outweigh the cons.

Prism, Clickio’s alternative

That said, having a website optimized for mobile still remains of critical importance, and Clickio offers a solution to this. Prism is a technology that transforms any content site into a progressive web app, making it faster, more interactive, and more stable.

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a mobile webpage enriched with the typical features of an app, such as its light-weight structure. Thanks to this structure, a PWA guarantees a positive web experience, an essential factor for attracting users back on the site again in the future.

Prism can tailor a progressive web app to the specific needs of the publisher. It can apply customized scripts and widgets and optimize the ad layout of the website, improving user experience and increasing revenues.

To find out more about Prism, or set up a free A/B test against your current website, please contact us here.

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