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)

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)

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)

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)

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:

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:

Timothy Clarke – Clutch (@clutch_co)

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?