Getting up to speed with Accelerated Mobile Pages

It’s fair to say that the majority of us don’t like waiting. From standing in line, to being stuck in traffic or waiting for a webpage to load; the thought of it alone is enough to set your teeth on edge. Luckily for us, Google, Twitter and a number of other companies have heard our cries of impatience and have mobilised an initiative that has been steadily gaining more and more momentum.

They’re called accelerated mobile pages, and their purpose is to let those browsing the web on their phone hit the gas and live life in the fast lane.

‘So what exactly are accelerated mobile pages?’ we hear you ask. Well strap yourself in, we’re here to get you up to speed, and help you decide whether accelerated mobile pages are something you should consider for your website content.

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

In answer to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News, as well as the overwhelming escalation in users favouring mobile phones to browse online (specifically 50% of the global population who prefer to use mobile over desktop) Google and Twitter banded together on a project to deliver pages faster on mobile devices. The result was AMP (accelerated mobile pages), stripped back HTML pages specifically designed for mobile that are ultra lightweight and load almost instantaneously. The tech initially began rolling out in early 2016, and has continued to improve over time. AMP content typically loads in a carousel above the organic blue links in the search results. Prime candidates for these high speed pages are news stories – who wants to wait when it comes to hearing breaking news? Understandably, one of the first companies to get on board with AMP was the Washington Post.

How does it work?

In order to get an AMP page up and running, you’ll need to create an alternate page and link to it in the source code of your desktop version using the rel AMP HTML link. These pages are designed to be heavily cached by Google and others online, resulting in its fast delivery. It is crucial that canonical tags be implemented to tell Google that your AMP page is intended to be a mirror of the original desktop page, and not simply duplicate content.

Why are they are faster?

Just like a flashy sportscar, the best way to improve performance and beat the clock is to shed some weight, and that’s exactly what AMP pages do. These pages use lean HTML, stripped of heavy javascript and tags that would otherwise slow the page down, such as form, input and script, replacing these with a number of AMP tags that serve to optimise resource loading while still retaining interactivity. The end result is stripped back pages that are designed purely for use on mobile.

Why you should consider them:

While the technology is expected to develop and in turn see material previously thought limited by AMP become accessible; at present, AMP pages are best reserved for pages that push content, rather than pull information from users – such as sign up forms, quote request pages and shopping carts. If you already have a website, we recommend tapping into your Google Analytics to see which pages are driving the most traffic, and more specifically, which pages are being reached via mobile frequently; these are the ones that you should target with AMP. Furthermore, if there are any particular pages that you want site visitors to see, for example, pages that link directly to a primary product or service offering; look at the average time spent on these pages. If this time is lower than expected, one reason could be pagespeed sending visitors to the ‘X’ sooner than hoped, and as such, an accelerated mobile page could be a good option here.

For any other questions regarding AMP, Mobile or Web Development, we’re here to lend a hand, so give us a shout.