Debating the Pros and Cons of Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

When Google launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project in February of this year it touched off a debate on the pros and cons of the new platform.

To help you understand more about Google AMP, we wanted to evaluate it for you. That is why we asked some of the biggest experts on Google search and Google AMP evaluate the pros and cons of using the platform for content creators and website admins.

Below are their responses both positive and negative on why you do or do not need Google AMP, along with a description of how to use Google AMP for your business.

What is Google AMP?

Google AMP started as a response to other platforms like Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. Because of this, the platform is not as integrated throughout their search console like the other major mobile software.

AMP is an open initiative to help publishers create mobile content that loads instantly on various user’s devices.

That is because AMP provides a stripped down, Google hosted version of your website. Alphabet hosts the AMP pages to ensure there is enough server space to instantly load pages to their search engine.

Furthermore, Google restricts what content can be included on AMP pages. Instead of traditional mobile pages, AMP has special HTML language and coding. It limits the styling of the page, but in return loads really quickly.

This can increase the amount of development work needed to create an AMP page. The one exception being for WordPress websites. Automattic, the company that created WordPress, created the AMP plugin to help users implement AMP into their mobile strategy.

So far, only 60,000 website admins have downloaded the plugin. However, this could change quickly as Google AMP becomes more popular.

Drupal has also instituted some new Modules with AMP included. However, not all Modules have this at this point.

Experts Thoughts on Google AMP Pros and Cons


Yulia Khansvyarova – SEMrush (@semrush)Yulia Khansvyarova

This format benefits users and Google as it is supposed to improve engagement and user experience through mobile search. If you are a content provider, you should definitely embrace it. But it’s not useful for sites with complete functionality.

Jeff Ferguson – Fang Digital Marketing (@fangdigital)

PROS CONS
Your mobile content loads INCREDIBLY fast. I’m not kidding – humming birds can’t see this load time. Load time is not a direct ranking factor for organic search results. There is some conjecture over the fact that faster loading sites mean better click-through rates and longer time on site.
Your mobile content appears in a special carousel at the top of the organic search results. There is some work involved to use AMP. If your organization is strapped for resources, this is more than just “flipping a switch.”
Implementation of the changes needed to make your content “AMP friendly” are fairly mild. Not all content works with AMP. For instance, one of my clients has loads of video content and while AMP will make the text content load faster, the video portion still takes a bit to load.
One of the big ranking factors for mobile organic search results is “mobile friendliness” and you can’t get more friendly than AMP. Back in February, Google’s Jeff Jarvis stated that “the carousel layout may not always be there, so if that’s your big selling point, don’t get comfortable.”

Lachlan Wells – Optimising (@optimisingseo)

AMP HTML pages are a great opportunity to increase traffic as Google is featuring these in a carousel at the top of SERPs on a mobile device. Given that they’re also faster to load, Accelerated Mobile Pages can improve your overall rankings thanks to a decrease in load times and improvement in bounce rate.

To implement AMPs, your Developer needs to use the AMP HTML source code, which can be found on the AMP Project website. WordPress users can use the AMP plugin. As the project is open source you can expect plugins for other CMS’ to be available soon as well.

There are no major cons, other than the small amount of time it takes to implement AMPs. As you’re creating an additional version of every page, you need to add a canonical tag to each to avoid duplicate content issues, and to maximize your chance of appearing in the carousel, you’re required to use relevant schema markup. It may take a little time to implement, but for the chance to appear at the top of mobile SERPs and significantly reduce bounce rate, AMPs are well worth it.

Maria Fiscina – Active Web Group (@awg)

PROS CONS
It’s Google approved, so it does help with bot accessibility Without the WordPress plugin it’s hard to implement unless you know code
Implementation is easy – especially in WordPress, it’s just a plugin Custom site styling doesn’t carry over, it’s Google default format
Site speed on mobile phones improves greatly Widgets & sidebar items don’t carry over. The lead designer here thinks that it may be possible to code them into the widget, but he says they haven’t experimented with it as of yet.

Noah Szubski – DailyMail (@noahrs)

So far, AMP has performed well against a number of metrics for advertising effectiveness and revenue. One encouraging stat is that we have seen an increase in viewability of ads within the AMP environment. As the industry moves more towards this as a measurement tool it is important we focus on optimizing for this metric.  We are encouraged by the open approach to both publishers and our tech partners and look forward to what’s to come.

Damon Burton – SEO National (@seonational)

Integrating Accelerated Mobile Pages gives website owners a potential advantage on mobile rankings. Not only can you rank higher with AMP, but your higher ranked result will be more prominent. This increased exposure and prominence can provide you with a significant increase in traffic.

AMP results receive prominent positioning at the top of results, can feature a large image, the AMP icon, as well as your website’s favicon. The results are much more visually prominent and appealing, which increase click-through rates. And we all know that more clicks equal more leads, conversions, and sales.

The down side of Accelerated Mobile Pages includes additional coding efforts and less than appealing layouts. AMP is a stripped down web language.

Since it is its own language that means integrating it requires additional knowledge beyond regular HTML and CSS. And once you decide to use AMP, your design options are extremely limited. That’s why AMP works so fast, because there’s so little to load.

Do you sacrifice design and conversions for page speed and rankings? It’s a case-by-case basis. For journalists and news organizations, probably yes. For business verticals that require visual stimulation to convert leads and buyers, maybe not.

Ivan Kostadinov – Local Fame (@GetLocalFame)

My favorite thing about AMP is that they live up to their name – I can’t recall how many times I was grasping at the last straws of Wi-Fi, trying to follow some news piece I care about.

Those days are gone now – the AMPs load ridiculously fast (although they might not be as fast as static HTML when accessed directly). My biggest issue with them is the fact you need to make sure that your code is 100% bug free. This makes them inaccessible for a broader range of bloggers, but that may be my preference for Facebook Instant Articles talking.

Anthony De Guzman (@anthonydgs)

PROS CONS
Provides an instantaneous mobile web experience for the user Duplicate content if not canonicalized correctly
Greater CTR when featured in Google’s Top Stories carousel Difficult to implement if not a developer
Inability to use any author-written or third party JavaScript

Chelsey Moter – seoWorks (@SEOWorks)

However, while accelerated mobile pages are relatively new, there are other positives and negatives that can affect both businesses and the user. Here are some of the pros and cons that I see with Accelerated Mobile Pages:

PROS CONS
No pop-up ads No user created JavaScript
No lead generation forms No external CSS; only inline up to 50KB
Creates a great user experience Really only for news or blog articles
Makes publishers happy Images must state their size in HTML
Rank pages higher in Google Domain authority could suffer
Possible carousel spot in mobile SERP’s Will require additional developer time

I would say most of the pros are on the user side and majority of the cons are on the developer side so it’s a compromise. Overall, Googles main focus was to create a better user experience and that’s exactly what Accelerated Mobile pages does.

Oleg Korneitchouk – SmartSites (@SmartSitesNJ)


AMP is still relatively new and I’m sure it will keep evolving for the foreseeable future, but here are some important points:

  • How does it work? Google caches many of the resources beforehand so they can instantly serve the contents when a user clicks on the page. They use streamlined JS/CSS which can be a bit more limiting.
  • AMP pages also remove 3rd party JS (to improve speed) but may affect your tracking/conversions/experience depending on what JS your website uses
  • Since your JS/CSS is limited, you might not be able to replicated the exact design/look of your brand
  • AMP results only/mostly appear for head tail terms. Not so much long term (also likely to change)
  • AMP is currently NOT a ranking signal (likely to change)
  • AMP is more time sensitive (recent articles rank better). There are definitely older pages there too but recency is a big factor.

Timothy Clarke – Clutch (@clutch_co)

PROS CONS
They get a “FAST” label designation on the SERPs (mobile users are more impatient, higher standards for load times) It can be harder to code because you cannot use JavaScript
Google prioritizes these pages and apparently takes into consideration for their ranking factors You must use a stripped down, simple version of your site that could lose core elements and design scheme
Most full desktop versions of sites have a lot of unnecessary info and junk You must use their Javascript library
Pretty easy-to-install plugin for WordPress websites

Jason Parks – The Media Captain (@themediacaptain)

The Accelerate Mobile Pages pros are the fast site load speed time and usability across all devices. 40% of people wait no more than 3 seconds before abandoning a website. Google realized this and made site load speed time a top priority.

The cons are that it requires a lot of custom coding for developers and isn’t simple to figure out. This can be costly for publishers to implement.

Overall, it is great for the user, which is the most important thing. It can be more difficult for publishers to get going with this though unless they have the development resources readily available.

Final Thoughts

As you can see Google AMP is just starting to make an impact on how mobile websites operate. However, the extraordinary changes they make to a website could alter the way businesses use the mobile web for the next few decades.

That is why it is important to understand both the pros and cons of using Google AMP for your business.

At Appticles, we understand more than most how mobile content can help a company build their business. That is the reason why we created our platform as a all-in-one mobile publishing platform: today, having just one mobile application doesn’t cut it; instead, having the option to distribute the content on various mobile channels is the ultimate goal and publishers need to embrace this mindset – be where the readers are.

We see that Google AMP is an important part of this conversation. We hope this provided insight into the process. Let us know in the comments below what you think of Google AMP?

CEO at Appticles. Tech-Biz in between guy. Passionate about entrepreneurship. Love to play tennis.

14 Comments

  1. To me, Google AMP is a temporary solution until our smart phones and wi-fi or the next generation of data transmission becomes faster and more powerful. Until then, I think it’s good compromise for mobile users.

  2. I admit having had only a brief glimpse at the docs, but that was enough to scare me away. Not because I’m lazy to learn something new, but simply because I fail to see the benefits of running after yet an exotic non-standard thingie to meet the hype.

    My own site is pretty much all-out optimised for both desktop and mobile users with a 100/99 score – the missing 1% is the result of not using a CDN to outsource a silly favicon.

    AML may be OK if you are just starting a (text) project; and are fine being forced to keep your layout to the fundamentals. However, merging anything just slightly more than basic mark-up would seem near impossible to port; at least for the time being.

    That said, I’ll grab a fresh cuppa and enjoy the liberty of coding standards compliant sources to my hearts content. Clever and validating design is at least on par – if not faster and better – in terms of speed and compatibility and should always take precedence over hype-ish freak stuff hosted on someone elses cache boiler; who might just as well start charging a pretty penny soon enough.

    Just my own point of view, so no offense. I quite enjoyed reading down the article, albeit it didn’t really succeed in changing my mind.

    Regards,
    P. H. Claus

  3. Hi Ciprian,

    Very good article and analysis.

    In my case I have a company with large web projects and it is increasingly evident that we are delivering all the power to Google … now we deliver “on the tray” user experience and content, among other things.

    Every day is more dangerous and necessary. Let’s hope I’m wrong and there are more benefits than I see right now in general.

    Thans again!
    Greetings from Sevilla
    Emiliano

  4. For the speed point-of-view AMP maybe good solution, but I have another thing to concern. AMP page are very easy to scrap the content, so for web scrapper AMP format is easy to scrap content in AMP format, easy to parse, easy to steal content. Previously scraping content needs more complex parsing, but with AMP it’s easy. So that’s the bad things or bad side effect for web providing AMP format.

  5. Sometimes I thought Google is tricky with AMP format. They might say AMP is good for us, promise fast access to web. But please remember, AMP format is like providing our rich web with very limited features for the web. That’s why I smell bad things here, I think Google has it’s own agenda with AMP, imagine if all web content provide AMP format, then Google crawler will super very easy to scrape all content to their index database. The good things is of course for speed 😉 Speed for access, speed for web scraper to scrape content hahaha.

  6. None of these people add any input as to how AMP pages regress the UX of mobile experience for websites. For me, this is the biggest downfall of AMP. Yes, the pages load super fast, but you also are adding an intermediary wall in-between your site an the user, making them request the same content twice. The most common form of this I see on AMP pages is few paragraphs of truncated content with a button that says see more, which takes you to the same page on the real site in Chrome. You are effectively clicking a button to load the same page because Google only gave you a little piece so they could stick it in their news carousel… The benefit of this is not worth sacrificing UX if you can provide a better experience yourself. Plus, if you are already using a CDN, what’s the point of using another with AMP?

    Google AMP needs to go away instead of asking people to sacrifice their mobile UX in order for Google to compete with Facebook and Apple in a personal vendetta.

  7. Hi all,
    Really interesting article on the pros and cons of AMP. Whilst, for a content driven site this appears to be a no brainer, however what it fails to touch upon are the more dynamic content driven sites such as ecommerce. What can AMP add when a lot of elements of an ecommerce site are dynamic and prone to change? Do we sacrifice a user journey we know converts to offer up a less slick looking website for AMP? Not sure I know, any thoughts welcomed!

  8. One important point that I have not seen mentioned in any AMP related articles is this: PAGE LOAD SIZE, & the total download size required if viewing several pages of an AMP site. Duplicating the CSS in every page etc.

    Why is this important? The mobile ISP vultures are circling with their monthly download data limits + here in the EU there is a potential for pop-ups advising site visitors if viewing a page will take them overthere download limit & th ecosts involved.

    The only TRUE solution to a good mobile UX is well designed small download size pages which improve page load speed & reduce mobile browsing costs.

    As others have said, it’s a Google thing NOT a better mobile web thing.

  9. Developing content and resources that are accessible via smartphones is a no-brainer.

    This is a broad debate but the more you understand about your target audience (demographics, devices they use, where they “hang out” on the internet) the better understanding you will have of whether to optimize your website with AMP.

  10. I fail to understand why is “Faster load time” linked with “Better UI Experience”?

    Users don’t just appeal to a fast load time, they look for several other features too such as better navigation like “Table of Contents”, accordions, tabs and spoilers. All these add up to a good UI.

    What good is that design which loads fast but looks pathetic?

    Honestly I don’t consider AMP to benefit the web community especially the publishers who will suffer even more when it comes to low Ad revenue and limited support for analytics. I believe Google is just trying to compete with Facebook and crawl the web even more faster to improve its ROI by sacrificing publisher revenue and UI.

  11. Really great post here Ciprian! After a year I still find that many website owners and webmasters are still reluctant to make the change over to updating to AMP pages. From my experience I believe it really depends on the platform, as in WordPress its very easy to upload the AMP plugin and VOILA! All your posts are now AMP pages. For other platforms its a much bigger undertaking and that’s why I think many people are reluctant.

    I predict that when the mobile first index finally rolls out next year lots of people will finally take the plunge, but until then only the early adopters are really going to be benefiting from upgrading to AMP pages. Thanks for the great tips in this post!

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