There is a lot of buzz around AMP, but what is it and how can you implement it? And how do you use AMP for WordPress? We’ll answer these questions in this blog.
AMP is an acronym for ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’ and it is a project from Google to make mobile pages load faster. It is not a server technology but a way to build web pages. AMP consists of AMP HTML, AMP JS and a proxy-cache run by Google. The AMP HTML and JS omit some slow parts of HTML and JS and add some mobile specific extensions.
When you implement AMP on your website you will generate an AMP version of an existing page. The AMP version is stripped of all the unnecessary stuff which makes it much smaller and faster to load.
Pros and cons
The main advantage of using AMP is that your pages will be loaded faster on mobile devices. Google stated AMP is not a ranking factor at the moment. There could be a bonus using AMP since Google is experimenting with showing a slider featuring AMP content in search results. This is especially the case for news sites and news queries, but AMP is making headway for other types of content too. The slider will probably dissappear when the adoption of AMP is at a level high enough for Google’s liking.
Using AMP has some serious drawbacks. By implementing AMP, some essential functionality as ads, tracking, interactivity (e.g. comments) and unique design may be lost in the AMP version of your pages. Some of this functionality is possible within AMP but requires a good configuration of your WordPress AMP plugin or some serious coding.
Google provides AMP support for the most popular ad networks, including their own networks AdSense and DoubleClick and social networks.
All in all, the AMP page is a very stripped down version of a normal page. We value speed but removing essential components such as ads, tracking and interactivity is not the way to go as far as we are concerned. In addition to this the AMP standard is not really open for all ad networks, social networks, etc. These points have been improved since the conception of AMP but it still is a proprietary Google technology.
Implementing AMP for WordPress
If you are okay with omitting some features, implementing AMP for WordPress is pretty straightforward.
Option 1: The Automattic AMP plugin with the AMP Glue plugin from Yoast
Automattic has released an AMP WordPress Plugin. This plugin generates an AMP version of all your posts. You can view these versions by adding /amp/ to the URL of a post. The plugin also adds a ‘link rel’ metatag to your <head> to inform search engines there is an AMP version of the page. After installing the AMP plugin you have basic AMP pages.
If you want to tweak your AMP pages a little you can use the AMP Glue plugin by Yoast. This plugin allows you to toggle AMP per page type, make some design changes such as colors and icons and insert analytics scripts. Please note that adding scripts stops your pages from validating properly.
Option 2: The AMP for WP plugin
The AMP for WP plugin is a good alternative for option 1. It offers a lot of options to implement AMP pages that include tracking, ads, menus, social sharing buttons and custom design. Through an intuitive configuration screen, it is easy to set whether AMP pages should be created for posts only or also for normal pages (something the automattic plugin can’t do). You can even exclude certain pages on an individual level. The plugin offers paid extensions for integrating popular plugins like ACF or ContactForm 7 in AMP pages.
The developers behind this plugin are actively working on their product and releasing new features on a regular basis.
We are running AMP for WP on our websites.
AMP vs normal mobile view
Testing and validating AMP pages
After configurating an AMP plugin it is important to test if the AMP pages validate. Luckily, Google has created a testing tool: AMP Test. It is also a possibility to paste HTML in ‘The AMP Validator‘ tool. Validation errors are also visible in the Google Search Console.
In our opinion, AMP is a technology with lots of potential but currently not a finished product and too closed for outsiders. If you are running a news site or a blog you could reap some benefits (organic traffic) when implementing AMP. The current WordPress plugins make it easy to implement AMP with support for ads, tracking and comments.