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Google AMP for Digital Publishers

Slow mobile pages are incredibly unappealing for users. The desire to produce a better mobile experience prompted digital publishers to use Google AMP. The use of this also encouraged user traffic to their sites. According to “What Publishers Need to Know about Google AMP” by Ellen Harvey, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is “an open source initiative with the goal of speeding up the mobile web”. Google AMP allows users to rapidly get the content they want. For digital publishers, keeping track of how Google AMP affects “their SEO, ad earnings, and user experiences” can determine their future success.

Since its launch in February of 2016, Google AMP has transformed how search engines and other publishing websites function on the mobile web. In recent years, smartphones and tablets are the go-to devices for viewing content. Rather than have a separate app for users to download, Google opted to create a more “quick user-friendly way“.

Functions of Google AMP

The sole purpose of Google AMP is to make accessing mobile web pages faster. A web page that has implemented AMP will have all the basic information a user would need. Carlos Alonso, writer of “Google AMP for Publishers: What You Need to Know”, explains the AMP process:

  • AMP HTML is a subset of HTML. It reduces the number of elements you can use while adding some new ones.
  • AMP JS is a Javascript framework focused on handling and loading resources. No other Javascript libraries are allowed in AMP.
  • AMP Content Delivery Network is an optional element that you can use to deliver your content even faster thanks to its cache.
  • CSS is also limited to certain elements.

Essentially, there is a trade-off “between flexibility and speed” when it comes to elaborate design on the mobile web page. Google AMP provides the bare-bone functions for users to view their content.

Revenue Gain

Digital publishers aim to increase revenue by using Google AMP. In “Google AMP and the Publishing Industry: What Happens Next?”, Lydia Gilbertson explains:

“Digital Publishing has been struggling to find a way to better monetize its industry since it became more common for its users to be found online than reading a magazine….Facebook and Google digital advertising account for 77 percent of the total growth in ad spend in 2015 and the gap is only growing. In response, many digital publishers have begun placing a heavy emphasis on their native advertising efforts.”

Digital publishers need platforms such as Google for their content to be seen, and in turn the platforms need users to continue regular interaction with them. Consequently, Google AMP has attempted to create a mutual partnership “to make it even more appealing for publishing sites to focus their energy on making content available on their platforms.”

Obtaining revenue is both a pro and con of Google AMP, due to several factors enabling or hindering it. The flexibility of Google AMP allows ads to be placed on mobile web pages to encourage users to click on them. Alonso states:

“AMP supports a wide range of ad formats and technologies, and more than 150 ad networks support integration with AMP pages. AMP also supports paywalls and provides an accessible framework to regulate access to content for subscribers, metered users and anonymous users.”

However, technical limitations on the number of ads on a page can cause a deficit. A few ways to combat this drawback is to place ads on both AMP and non-AMP pages, ads themselves can be AMP pages, and completely avoiding heavy ads can lead to a better experience.

Pros of Google AMP

First and foremost, the speed of a mobile web page encourages users to continue interacting with a publisher’s website. Faster loading pages show the necessary content that will keep users interested. Due to the key content loading first, users are less likely to “bounce.”

According to Alonso, “There is a direct correlation between implementing AMP and an increase in organic traffic.” By users clicking onto publishers’ sites, the overall user experience and search engine optimization (SEO) is enhanced. The increase in online traffic can be attributed to the fact that Google supports publishers who also support them.

Similarly, Google rankings push publishers to implement AMP to gain more visibility. Of course, Google will encourage its own designs; therefore, publishers who support Google AMP will be placed at the top of “rich results in Google and mobile search.”

Cons of Google AMP

Despite the innovative technicalities of Google AMP, drawbacks were likely to arise. The basic formatting of the AMP page removes the original version of the page. AMP is essentially a plugin that does not fall under the publisher’s website. The AMP plugin will affect the SEO based on the “different cache and different notation on the website“.

Likewise, there will be considerable variation between the display on the desktop and on the mobile version. Users may see the content as completely different. Having content suited for Google AMP is necessary and having bad content can cost publishers the users of their sites. Basically, Google directly affects the mobile sites. Incorrectly implementing Google AMP or experimenting with the Google algorithm may cause problems because AMP is still relatively new.

Google AMP will favor publishers’ sites that directly correspond with their platform or are more established. New digital publishers will be overlooked and will not have their content seen. Similarly, designs on custom sites are not being placed on the site. Gilberston states:

“Many publishers are finding that parts of their brand are being lost within the platform. Some of the functionality, such as the inability to add a “read full story” buttons, which are often used to keep mobile users on a page, is another common complaint among publishers.”

Google AMP is an innovative platform that still has a few kinks to sort out. As the program continues to evolve, publishers will be able to have more liberty to do as they please.

Google AMP provides a unique experience for both users and digital publishers. Converting content, in the correct manner, will guarantee positive results in the digital publishing market. Although pros and cons exist, the publisher must decide whether Google AMP is worth delving into.