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What is AMP? A Comprehensive Guide

Table of Contents

Introduction

In our rapidly digitalizing world, more people are accessing the internet via mobile devices than ever before. Therefore, it’s essential for websites to optimize for mobile speed and usability. A technology that’s gaining popularity for improving mobile web performance is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). But what exactly is AMP? How does it benefit website owners and visitors? This article will explore these questions and offer a detailed guide on the role AMP plays in the contemporary web landscape.

What is AMP?

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, is an open-source HTML framework developed by Google in collaboration with Twitter. Launched in February 2016, AMP aims to make mobile web content load faster by stripping down the elements that slow down page speed.

An AMP version of a webpage is a lightweight, simplified version that doesn’t include elements such as JavaScript, certain CSS styles, and third-party scripts. When a user accesses an AMP version of a website on a mobile device, they’re served the AMP version, resulting in a much quicker load time.

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The Importance of AMP

As of my last update in September 2021, mobile internet usage exceeded desktop usage, accounting for over 50% of global web traffic. This emphasizes the importance of having a mobile-optimized website. Here’s where AMP comes in. AMP improves the mobile user experience by providing fast, smooth, and engaging web pages.

In addition, the reduced load time on AMP pages significantly impacts user behavior. Faster load times lower bounce rates, increase session duration, and may ultimately lead to higher conversions.

How Does AMP Work?

At its core, AMP works by limiting the use of HTML/CSS and JavaScript, and delivering pages through the AMP Cache. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how AMP functions:

  1. Limited Use of HTML/CSS: AMP provides a restricted subset of HTML/CSS. For instance, only inline styles are allowed in AMP HTML and the size must be under 50 kilobytes.
  2. No JavaScript: AMP disallows JavaScript for page construction, limiting it to interactive page features. For these features, AMP provides its custom JavaScript library.
  3. AMP CDN: When you create an AMP page, Google stores a copy of it in its AMP Cache, a content delivery network (CDN) that serves the pages.
  4. Prefetching: AMP prefetches the resources needed for your page before the user even clicks on it. This gives AMP a head start, resulting in near-instantaneous page load times.

Creating an AMP Page

To create an AMP page, you need to use a modified version of HTML, known as AMP HTML. Here’s a basic example of an AMP page structure:

<!doctype html>
<html>
<head>
  <meta charset="utf-8">
  <link rel="canonical" href="https://www.yourwebsite.com/your-page.html">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,minimum-scale=1,initial-scale=1">
  <script async src="https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0.js"></script>
  <style amp-boilerplate>body{-webkit-animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both;-moz-animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both;-ms-animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both;animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both}@-webkit-keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}@-moz-keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}@-ms-keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}@-o-keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}@keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}</style><noscript><style amp-boilerplate>body{-webkit-animation:none;-moz-animation:none;-ms-animation:none;animation:none}</style></noscript>
</head>
<body>
  <h1>Welcome to the AMP example!</h1>
</body>
</html>

This code is a bare-bones AMP HTML page. Note the special ‘⚡’ attribute in the <html> tag, which designates it as an AMP page, and the asynchronous AMP script that must be included in the <head> tag.

Implementing AMP in WordPress

If your website is built on WordPress, implementing AMP is straightforward with the use of plugins. The official AMP plugin developed by Google is a great option. Once installed, the plugin automatically generates AMP versions of your pages that comply with the AMP HTML standards. You can also customize the appearance of your AMP pages through the plugin’s settings.

Step 1: Install the AMP Plugin

To get started, navigate to your WordPress dashboard, select ‘Plugins,’ and click ‘Add New.’ In the search bar, type ‘AMP’ and look for the official AMP plugin by ‘AMP Project Contributors.’ Click ‘Install Now’ and then ‘Activate.’

Step 2: Configure the AMP Plugin

Once activated, you’ll see an ‘AMP’ option in your WordPress dashboard. Click on it to access the plugin settings. Here, you have two options:

  • Reader Mode (formerly Classic Mode): This option will create simple, separate AMP versions of your pages with limited customization options. It’s the easiest to set up and ensures AMP validity but doesn’t maintain the look of your original site.
  • Transitional Mode (formerly Paired Mode) and Standard Mode: These options allow you to use your existing themes and plugins, maintaining the look of your original site. However, they require more testing and debugging to ensure AMP validity.

Choose the mode that best fits your needs.

Step 3: Customize Your AMP Pages

AMP Settings for What is AMP

If you opt for Transitional or Standard mode, you can customize your AMP pages to match your site’s design. Navigate to ‘Appearance’ > ‘AMP’ in your WordPress dashboard, and you’ll find options to customize the header, colors, fonts, and other design elements.

Step 4: Validate and Monitor

To ensure your AMP pages are valid and error-free, you can use the built-in validation tool in the AMP plugin. Navigate to ‘AMP’ > ‘Validation’ in your dashboard, and you can check your AMP URLs for validation errors.

After setting up AMP, don’t forget to monitor your AMP pages in Google Search Console. It’s essential to regularly check your AMP pages for issues and keep an eye on their performance in search results.

By following these steps, WordPress users can efficiently implement AMP and enjoy its benefits. While it requires a bit of effort in the beginning, the payoff in terms of speed and mobile user experience can be significant.

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Benefits

AMP provides several benefits to both website owners and visitors:

  1. Increased Page Speed: AMP strips down the HTML and optimizes your content, resulting in faster load times.
  2. Improved User Experience: Faster load times lead to a better user experience, which can increase session duration and lower bounce rates.
  3. Potentially Higher Search Ranking: While AMP itself isn’t a ranking factor, page speed is. Therefore, AMP could indirectly help improve your search ranking.

Challenges of AMP

While AMP provides numerous benefits, it also comes with some challenges:

  1. Limited Functionality: The restrictions on JavaScript and HTML/CSS can limit the design and functionality of your AMP pages.
  2. Maintenance: Having separate AMP pages means you need to maintain and update both versions of your site.
  3. Tracking Issues: Due to its JavaScript restrictions, AMP can cause issues with tracking and analytics if not properly configured.

AMP and SEO

AMP can indirectly impact your SEO by improving your site speed and user experience, both of which are ranking factors. However, AMP itself isn’t a direct ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Regardless, AMP pages often feature prominently in mobile search results, particularly in the carousel of “Top Stories,” which can drive significant traffic to your site.

Conclusion

AMP is a powerful tool that can dramatically improve the speed and performance of your mobile website. By understanding what AMP is and how it works, you can make informed decisions on whether it’s the right fit for your website. While there are some challenges with AMP, the benefits of improved site speed, user experience, and potential SEO advantages make it a worthy consideration for any website owner.

Picture of Katerina Valeria
Katerina Valeria
Hi there! My name is Catherine and I am a professional content creator with a focus on WordPress. I write blog articles for Gloria Themes, sharing my knowledge and expertise on all things related to this popular website platform.

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