And Why Are They Important?
The short answer: The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is the the latest push from Google in its keen understanding of our need for speed. They are a standard for mobile pages that load almost instantly thanks to a super-streamlined format. And Google is rewarding them. They are a natural progression from responsive sites — those that know how to open on a desktop vs. a tablet vs. a mobile phone. The shift toward responsive websites was huge and gone are the days of trying to access a website on your phone and getting a jumbled mess of content, images, and video. Sure, there may be a few (I’m looking at you, weather.com) but for the most part responsive sites are everywhere and make it easy to access anything on our phones quickly.
But are responsive sites quick enough? In a world where we keep getting faster in our decision making and decreasing the amount of time we’re willing to wait are responsive websites keeping up? Google doesn’t think so and that’s why it’s setting this new standard of AMP. Why doesn’t Google think so? Because the average person will click to another site after waiting three seconds. Three. Which means the faster a mobile site loads the more loyalty it will build. So how do you make make fast even faster?
The Race Car Analogy
Yoast recently compared AMP to a race car.
Let’s compare this to a race car. If you want to make a race car faster, you give it a faster engine and you strip all the weight. In this weight stripping, you also remove things like back seats, air conditioning, etc. AMP is not unlike that. It’s the trimmed-down version of a normal web, because Google cares for speed more than for nifty features.
Forget about the frills — sites certifying as Accelerated Mobile Pages load what seems like instantaneously. Content is streamlined with easy sans serif fonts, limited color and graphics. Essentially it’s a “Just the facts, ma’am” version of pages.
Want to see?
- Grab your mobile phone.
- Open your browser and go to g.co/ampdemo.
- Type in a search term that’s newsy like “summer movies”.
Leading the search results you’ll see stories with a small icon followed by AMP. Click and — yeah, you’ve already read the first paragraph. It’s fast. Notice the blue bar at the top with the status dots? You can flip through all of the AMP certified articles quickly, finding one from a source you prefer. Welcome to the next phase in mobile SEO. Google’s peek into mobile search results reinforces that they will reward sites that qualify as AMP.
Who Needs To Create These Race Cars?
Right now it appears that Google is basing its rewarding these sites on people’s consumption of news. We want it now, we want it fast, and we don’t want to have to wait for it to load. Whether it’s a national crisis, a candidate backing out of a race, or the latest celebrity scandal, we devour news on our phones. Currently news and blogs are the focus. But we’ve all seen the way these things work and the ramifications will likely reach far beyond news media. And far beyond Google’s spiders.
The Genesis of Accelerated Mobile Pages
In 2011 Google came up with the idea of the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT. Essentially this is the summative embodiment of our need for things done NOW. Not later. Not maybe. Now. Consider some changes in your life as compared to when you were a child or to your parents’ childhoods or even when they were your current age and you can see we have truly become a people of this ZMOT. Knowing this moment existed was one thing, but now Google has answered it by certifying AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages. Let’s look at what these are and why they’re so important.
For those who love numbers, most of these sites load enough information to start scrolling in .33 seconds.
Understanding The Zero Moment of Truth
Remember 1992? Here’s what a Friday night looked like: About a week or two earlier you and friend decided to go out to dinner. You called the restaurant during its business hours and booked a table. Over dinner you mentioned a movie you really wanted to see. Your friend said she wanted to see it too so you’d scrounge up a newspaper or head to a payphone and dial 777-FILM* and hit a LOT of buttons to find out that the last showing started ten minutes ago. You’d furiously scrawl the show times for next Friday on a napkin and make plans for the following weekend over dessert. Once home and hit the play button after seeing the light blink on the answering machine connected to your land line. Someone called while you were out… maybe you’d call him back tomorrow.
Decisions were made after gathering information the slow way. The Zero Moment of Truth didn’t exist. Now you text a friend to say you’re in her neighborhood, book a table on Yelp in the car while walking to meet her, ask Siri about movie times when you’re putting on your coat, and get texts throughout the night that allow for instant conversation. Mobile devices have fostered immediate access. But that means that devices have to keep up. And that’s where AMP comes in for our predictions of the future.
What’s The Future Look Like?
If we had to bet, eCommerce will be greatly affected by Accelerated Mobile pages. Even now, think about how many decisions, even big ticket ones, are made thanks to your phone. Should you go to Mexico over the winter or just stay at home and binge Netflix? You flip open your kayak app and see that between that and your accrued miles you can get to Mexico for free. Mexico here you come! It’s simple to get all of the information you need right on your phone and make a decision. And AMP websites will facilitate this even more.
If you cook, chances are you do it in the kitchen with a tablet or phone — recipes are a prime target for AMP — and that you search for the ingredients you have in the house.
Another place where AMP could have a significant impact is automotive sales. Being able to sit in a carpool or meeting and easily access automotive websites and gather information could make comparison shopping and research of larger purchases much simpler.
It’s probably a good time to assess the speed of your mobile pages and see if there’s not some stripping you could do to become a leader in speed in your niche — get ahead of the game by developing websites that will certify as AMP.
*No, it doesn’t exist anymore.