In 2016, Google began displaying Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in its search results, under the Top Stories section. This was aimed to allow mobile users to load news articles quickly, on their tablets and smartphones. Recently, Google has announced that it will be extending its AMP support to ordinary search results as well. This should improve the user experience on mobile devices, as the users will be provided with a list of faster loading websites. However, it raises a very pertinent question – Will accelerated mobile pages now have an impact on SEO? Here is a detailed analysis of the subject.
AMP is an open source coding standard that allows publishers to create extremely lightweight versions of their websites. It is supported by major platforms, such as WordPress, Twitter, and Google because it offers a smoother browsing experience on slow internet connections. Due to the faster loading times of these stripped down versions of the websites, Google began displaying AMP pages in their Top Stories section, with a lightning symbol. With the recently announced changes, Google will give preference to the AMP version of a website, if available, for searches carried out on mobile devices. This means that the duplicate desktop and mobile optimized variants of the web page will not show up in the search results.
Even though Google has clarified that AMP pages will not provide any additional boost to the ranking of a web page, there are certain indirect SEO optimization benefits of making the switch to AMP. It is a known fact that many users prefer sites that take no more than 3 seconds to load, therefore, if your competitors come up with an AMP page and you don’t, chances are that you will lose some of your traffic to those pages. Opting for AMP will improve your bounce rate because AMP pages usually load four times faster than a mobile-optimized web page. Some users may only opt for AMP pages when they are out and about, hence, by introducing an AMP version of your website you might see an increase in your traffic because of these visitors.
Whether or not you should make the switch to AMP depends on the nature of the content of your website. If your website primarily attracts traffic due to its striking design then switching to AMP may not be useful because it essentially strips down a web page and cannot support intense graphics. This may reduce the impact that your web page makes on the customers and the overall experience might get dampened. Google has assured that it will not penalize the websites that do not switch to AMP, so do not feel obliged to switch even though you feel that an AMP page will not do justice to your website. On the other hand, if you own a content driven site that focuses on text-based articles then perhaps opting for an AMP page may offer you some SEO benefits, as mentioned above. If your target audience largely comprises of smartphone users then an AMP page can significantly reduce your bounce rate.
The bottom line is that AMP might provide some SEO benefits to certain websites but may not be as useful for the websites that are known for their spectacular design. Website owners need to make the decision regarding the introduction of an AMP page based on the targeted traffic and the desired user experience.