If you’re designing your marketing strategy to maximize your user experience (and you should be!), you’ve no doubt heard of AMP pages. Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, is an open-source Google-run project that allows users to create super-fast mobile content pages. This is good news for you as a business owner, because AMP pages allow you to serve dynamic content to your leads and current customers faster than ever, which can reduce your bounce rate, increase time on page, and improve the user experience for mobile, all of which are critical for a successful SEO campaign.


What are AMP pages?

AMP is basically a stripped-down HTML format that is designed to load content instantly. The project was rolled out by Google in 2015 as a competitor to Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News, with several big-name digital content companies onboard, including Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. More than 30 news publishers also joined the project shortly after its announcement, including India Today, The Washington Post, and CNBC. AMP’s paired-down backend makes it simple to serve well-designed, high-performing pieces of content with zero load time, meaning your users can get what they need faster and you can retain them much easier than with a traditional, clunky webpage.

The AMP Project is open-source, meaning anyone can access the source code and create content that is beautifully designed, performs consistently, and loads quickly across all mobile devices. Currently, there are about 1.5 billion AMP pages on the web and the source code gets better all the time, with collaboration from the top web developers, analytics, publishers, tech companies, and many others.


How AMP Pages work

AMP Pages use an extremely streamlined source code to serve content virtually instantly to mobile users. The AMP framework has three components – the AMP HTML, the AMP JavaScript, and the AMP caches, which actually validate and serve AMP pages to users. Most AMP pages are served by the Google AMP cache, but many other companies also currently support AMP caches.

AMP pages, as mentioned, are designed to load a quickly as possible, so they are built with what is essentially “diet” HTML – it has only the bare essentials needed to serve a visually attractive piece of content as quickly as possible. To this end, there are many HTML tags you can’t use in your source code because it will cause the page to load too slowly. In addition, your CSS must be streamlined as much as possible, and custom Javascript is a no-go. The AMP Project has a pre-built JavaScript library for its users for critical loading elements and nothing more. This may be frustrating at first, as there will be many elements of your normal website that you can’t use in your AMP pages, but trust us, the speed and performance of these pages is worth sacrificing a few JavaScript attributes for.

When designing your AMP page, you want to keep speed at the forefront of your mind. Because the source code is so paired down, AMP pages are ultra-light and load virtually instantly. Images do not load until the user scrolls to them, and all of the responsive elements of the page are accomplished through this built-in JavaScript library. This allows your content to be customizable, while maintaining page speed and dependability.

Any company, publication, or person can build a site with AMP pages, as long as it adheres to the AMP Project guidelines. The pages can be displayed in most browsers, and when a regular page has a mobile AMP version, there is usually an HTML tag in the source code of that page to tell the browser to serve the alternate AMP page when a user is browsing on mobile. Because Google built AMP to be easily crawled by its spiders, these mobile-only versions of a site are easy to locate, and can be linked to directly by search engines and other websites, rather than the default webpage.


How AMP pages could affect your SEO

Creating good content takes a lot of time and energy, so it’s especially frustrating to see high bounce rates on content you’ve invested significant resources in, simply because the page takes too long to load. In today’s world of high-speed internet and instant access, if your pages don’t load immediately, your users are going to click on another link. If you’re seeing high bounce rates on high-quality content, AMP pages could be an incredible solution for your site’s SEO metrics. Due to their very nature, AMP pages load instantly and consistently serve visually stunning, responsive content, which is good news for both you and your end users.

Google has stated that pages are not ranked based on whether they are AMP-compliant, but some analysts have speculated that AMP may soon become a factor in ranking as Google moves toward mobile-first indexing. In addition, Google recently announced that page speed will soon affect rankings, so it’s very possible that sites with AMP-compliant pages may see a boost in search engine rankings and, therefore, traffic, in the coming months. In any case, staying on top of trends in content and SEO is a good idea, and AMP is only the beginning of big changes to come for digital publishing.

We don’t know for sure how AMP will affect your rankings in the future, but what we do know is that AMP pages outperform traditional web pages when it comes to speed, load times, and responsiveness, and sites with these elements tend to have lower bounce rates, improved time on page, and better overall UX, which does improve SEO. Content publishing sites will most likely see these benefits the most, as AMP pages are designed to quickly serve highly dynamic content. If your business has a blog, news, or other content aspect, those are the pages that you will likely want to invest the time and resources into converting to AMP. If you publish your content using WordPress, you can easily install AMP as a plugin with this SEO Hacker tutorial.


How to build AMP pages for your website

You can begin building your AMP pages by using the AMP HTML template provided by the AMP Project. Simply copy the source code and save it as a file with the .html extension. From there, you can customize your page and add your content. The AMP Project has also provided tutorials to help if you are using a CMS, starting from scratch, or trying to convert an existing page into an AMP.

The most critical element of building AMP pages for your site is to ensure that they are valid. As discussed earlier, your pages must adhere to the AMP Project specifications, meaning you must follow their guidelines as far as what HTML and CSS elements you can use, and you must include certain tags in specific places to ensure that the page loads correctly. If any piece of your page does not adhere to the guidelines, it will not be validated by Google.

Google makes it easy to check the validity of your AMP pages and has provided a free Chrome web extension, called, creatively, AMP Validator. The plugin checks each page to ensure its validity and indicate whether it passed or failed. If there are warnings or errors in that page’s source code, the extension will list the errors by page. This makes it easy to correct any errors or broken code your AMP pages might have to ensure that they will load properly in the browser.


Criticism of AMP pages

AMP has been criticized by some in the tech sphere who consider it anti-open internet. Some see it as an attempt by Google to dictate how websites can be built and used, and because it locks its users into a specific “ecosystem” and makes them reliant upon Google to build any additional pages. In addition, some are concerned about the fact that it is unclear to users whether they’re viewing a page on the open Web or a page from Google’s cache. If you are concerned about how installing AMP will affect your website or end users, it’s a good idea to test the waters before you convert all of your content to AMP. Search Engine Land has designed a test to see how installing AMP might affect your page’s rankings, if you’d like to “try it before you buy it.”


Get expert help with your content strategy

You’ve built a stunning website, you’re sold on AMP pages, you’re a thought leader in your industry, and you have tons of content you’d like to share with your audience. But how do you ensure that your content reaches your target audience, performs well, and meets your KPIs? That’s where we come in. Big Leap has created intelligent content strategies for companies of all sizes to be sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. Not ready to commit just yet? Sign up for a free Big Leap Content Marketing consultation to learn how you can use content to dominate your industry and exceed your performance goals.

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