Understanding Google AMP And Why You Should Consider It For Your Content

 

You may have heard in the press recently about Google AMP and even if you haven’t you will probably hear more and more about it over the course of the rest of the year.  What is the Google AMP project, who benefits from it, and why should you care?  In the following post that is exactly what we will look at.

What Is Google AMP?

Google AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is Google’s own answer to competitor’s like Facebook’s

Instant Articles and was introduced to help solve the problem of internet pages not loading quickly enough on mobile devices.  The AMP Project was established after many in-depth discussions between technology companies and actual publishers to improve and update the complete ecosystem of mobile content for not just the publishers or the users but for everyone.

Despite the fact that mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are more powerful now than they have ever been, the speed at which some content loads is not meeting the expectations.  Before the introduction of Google AMP in February 2016, loading certain pages of content could take several seconds to load, which doesn’t seem too bad until you consider the fact that many users would give up and click on a different site or page.  Because of the way Accelerated Mobile Pages are designed they load almost instantaneously, which is a huge step in Google’s eyes towards the mobile web improving for anyone involved.

What Are The Major Benefits Of AMPs?

Speed matters a lot when it comes to the mobile web with regards to publishers and users alike.  Research conducted by Google showed that the bounce rate on pages was approximately 58% for any web pages that took around 10 seconds to load on a mobile device.  As well as loading faster though, the AMP format enables publishers to more easily distribute their content everywhere much quicker, across various apps and platforms; which in turn can lead to more revenue through subscriptions and ad clicks.

How Do AMP Pages Basically Work?

Essentially AMPs are no different to ordinary HTML, apart from the fact that they only have a limited number of technical functions that are set and controlled by the open source spec.  Like any other type of web page, they will load in any modern and up to date web viewing app or browser.  In order to prioritise loading speed the AMP files use various architecural and technical approaches to offer users a faster web experience on their mobile devices.

How Can You Optimise Your Site For AMPs?

In order to optimise your site to run AMPs you first of all have to have at least two live and working versions of the same page of content – the original that any will see and the AMP version.  As AMP does not allow third-party JavaScript and form elements, you will not be able to use on-page comments, lead forms and similar elements that you may be used to having on your pages.

There is also some rewriting you will have to do to fall into line with the restrictions set for AMP.  For instance CSS has to be in-line and lower than 50KB.  Multimedia also has to be handled in a special way, using the custom amp-img element and a specific height and width.

Although there are still improvements that can be made and it is by far a perfect system, the results so far in its infancy seem to suggest that creating websites and pages with Google AMP in mind is the right way to go.

Google’s Ad Format Changes And The Implications

 

Google ads have been in the same position on the search engine pages for 15 years now, following the same basic format of 3 ads above the organic search results and various to the right of the results.  They have conducted various experiments over the course of time when it comes to ad space and introduced product advertisements and tried image extensions that were found inside text ads and as time as passed the space for ads has become bigger.

However in December last year, Google had started trying a very different approach to ads by removing all ads from normal, desktop searches.  Gone are the ads displayed down the right hand side.  Instead, the 3 text ads above the organic search results are displayed alongside a 4th.  As there are now 4 text based ads above the SERPs, it does leave the question as to why has Google done this and what does it mean for marketers?

What Has Google Done?

Before we look at why, let’s just outline briefly and clearly what Google has actually done.  They have removed the ads to the side and increased the number of ads at the top of the search results page to 4 from 3.  For the time being the Knowledge Graph and Shopping results/Product Listing Ads are still shown to the right of the search results for some searched for queries.  However, it is unclear whether they will keep this permanent placing.

Why Has Google Changed Their Ad Format?

Google have not been secretive to the fact that they have spent the last year to year and half working on the mobile web.  During 2015, mobile searches overtook desktop searches which increased their important in the search space and it is a trend that is continuing to increase.  The mobile’s year has finally come and Google was ready for it, as the changes to its desktop ad format transforms the  search results page into something that looks more like the mobile version to make a more similar search experience across all forms of device.

What Will The Impact Of This Be?

Although this is a seemingly very simple change to the layout, it could have a rather substantial impact on marketers who rely on searches, with both organic and paid results being affected.

Impact On Organic

On the search results pages that feature the changes, the organic links will be further down than they have been ever before.  This will mean for some users at least that above the fold the screen space will only feature paid for adverts, that in turn will mean some level of change to the click-through rate from organic search results and decrease of traffic for some sites.

In time, it could mean because of a lack of right side ads, brands losing the bidding wars for paid spaces may shift their attentions to organic to compensate, particularly if they do not have a top ranking position.  Marketing terms often place higher value on getting sites and pages a little higher in organic results than just spending on 4 paid ads.

Impact On Paid

The biggest impact the ad format changes have on paid results is there is less advertising space.  While in the past there was space for approximately 11 ads, there is only space for 4.  This will mean an increase in competition and of the CPC or cost per click and will make it harder for some marketers to get the most prominent places on the page.

There will be potential issues for brands because of the impact of less space for adverts and the moving of the organic results further down.  Retailers will most likely emphasise having a good product feed pushing specific products and lines.  Although their presence within the actually Shopping results pages should already be important to retailers, the changes in format make it even more crucial.

Finally, as the CPC increases, it will push some advertisers out of the picture and force them to tweak their targeting and more tactfully advertising to get the best traffic at best price.