Ever since last year, when Google first announced the rollout of its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, questions about how this new technology will affect search results have been fast and furious. With the search giant promising wide implementation as quickly as possible and news outlets adopting the AMP as a way to speed access to mobile devices, it’s easy to see why. Here at Integrated IT Solutions, we decided it’s important to take a minute to sort through a few of them, particularly the ones related to how Google AMP will affect search results.
In the early days of the project, the only place that AMP pages were indexed was in the “Top Stories” carousel on Google News. This made sense during the pilot phase, because it was news and media sites that were driving the adoption of the new platform and benefitting from it, with some 4.2 million pages of AMP content per day going live. Now, as the program expands to organic results, it appears that the choice has been to place them side by side in the listings.
This means that when a site has AMP support set up, the familiar lightning bolt icon that Google already uses will show in its results, right next to the blue link.
Google insists that the rollout of AMP is not designed to change search results, but this only means that the algorithm is not being tweaked to privilege them. It’s important to remember that, because there is a difference between the algorithm being changed and user behavior that changes rankings. While the company did not design or intend for this new platform to change organic search rankings, it most assuredly will, even if it is regular user behavior that instigates the change.
The scenario looks something like this:
Google AMP supported content works six to eight times faster than alternatives.
Users realize this through their contact with AMP in media sites.
Users begin to choose accelerated sites over others for their enhanced experience.
As AMP rolls out to other sectors, user knowledge transfers.
Automated Landing Pages customers realize this and integrate the technology more competitively.
Search rankings change to reflect new user preferences.
While user experience is not necessarily the only factor driving consumer behavior, it is still a factor, and so any disruption that has the potential to greatly shift that order is one worth understanding.
First and foremost, moving to support AMP content is not necessarily a good move for every company. There are costs associated with it, and one has to consider the size of a company’s audience and the relative level of competition for services they face as part of any cost/benefit analysis on the topic. That being said, for companies that are on the fence about whether or not to implement it, there is a strong case to be made for putting it in place. Before you do that, standard web optimization practices should already be put into place and followed. In short: Write engaging copy. Use graphics that support your page organization and content. Optimize for performance across all devices. Then, once you have a stable and engaged SEO practice that is showing you results, it’s time to move into AMP adoption.
There are new best practices to follow to get the most out of AMP, and Google has created a site for developers who are interested in following through with adoption at ampproject.org, making it easier for companies to identify the key differences and follow through with them. Out of the box, the performance increase is fantastic, and with optimization, early adopters of this new platform stand to gain a significant number of page views. When that happens, get ready for changes in the rankings.