It’s Time to Get Acquainted with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

amp accelerated mobile pagesAs technology has become the latest norm, a lot of developers are seen jumping on the bandwagon to cash in on this interesting field. Did you notice how mobile browsing seems to have taken off in a big way? Now it’s time to explore AMP.

What is Accelerated Mobile pages?

According to its technical definition, it is a Google-backed project designed as an open standard for any publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices. A few years back when Google launched the mobile-friendliness update, things got pretty heated up in the mobile search engine realm. As a result, site owners started searching for a unique and faster experience for their end users.

There are times when mobile browser pages aren’t loaded quickly, and this can discourage users from enjoying your content. So, what needs to be done? AMP is the solution. Designed by Google and Twitter, AMP accelerates load time pretty well. At its core, it is a stripped-down form of HTML, a diet HTML.

Earlier, page speed was a ranking factor only for desktop searches, but nowadays speed has become a crucial factor for mobile searches as well. You will come across several tools and technologies that have the potential to design your web pages to load faster, and AMP is a project you should really look into!

The open source library aims to make the web faster and better for everyone by loading pages instantly. Gone are the days when you were required to wait for the page to load, as AMP lessens the waiting time. According to Google, the AMP plugin cut down the page load time between 15% and 85%, in initial tests.

3 Components of AMP Pages

1. AMP HTML:

It is basically HTML extended with custom AMP properties, i.e., some HTML tags are replaced with AMP-specific tags. Commonly known as AMP HTML components, these custom elements create common patterns, especially the ones that are pretty easy to implement in a performant way. Discovered by search engines and other platforms through the <link rel=” “> HTML tag, AMP does work wonders.

2. AMP JS:

The AMP JS library ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages by implementing all of AMP’s best performance practices. It also manages resource loading and gives custom tags of AMP HTML, all to ensure the fast rendering of the web page. AMP JS also makes everything that comes from external resources, asynchronous so no element of the page can block anything from rendering. It also sandboxes all iframes. That is, it pre-calculates the layout of every element on the page before resources are loaded.

3. AMP Cache:

Have you ever come across this proxy-based content delivery network used to deliver all valid AMP documents? AMP Cache fetches AMP HTML pages, caches them, and improves page performance instantly. Right from the document to all JS files, all images can be uploaded from the same origin, i.e. HTTP 2.0 when using the Google AMP Cache. This results in maximum efficiency. The Google AMP Cache is used to serve cached AMP HTML pages.

AMP cache also has a built-in validator that confirms if the page is guaranteed to work and if the page depends on the external resources. Along with this, there is another validator that comes bundled with every AMP page. It logs validation errors directly to the browser’s console when the AMP optimized web page is rendered. This eventually allows you to see how complex changes in your code might impact performance and user experience.

 

Steps to Implementation

AMP implementationIn order to implement things rightly, you are required to maintain at least two versions of any article page. One version that is seen by the end users and the other one which is the AMP version. Now since the AMP version does not allow things such as form elements and third-party JavaScript, chances are you might be unable to have lead forms, on-page comments and other elements that you were used to having on your page in a standard implementation.

This also means that professionals have to rewrite the site template to accommodate the restrictions. Let’s say that all CSS in AMP must be in-line and be less than 50KB. They all must be loaded using a special amp-font extension because of the loading-intensiveness of custom fonts. Apart from this, multimedia must be handled in a special way. Images need to utilize the custom amp-img element and must include an explicit width and height. If your images are animated GIFs, you need to use the separate amp-anim extended component.

Another interesting thing to take into consideration is the custom tag. With the help of amp-video, it must be used to embed locally hosted videos via HTML5. It also supports things such as slideshows via amp-carousel and image lightboxes via amp-image-lightbox, as well as social media embeds for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

What Will AMP Look Like On Google?

Google has already provided a demo of what an AMP feature would look like in the SERP. All you have to do is click on one for a reading experience embedded in the SERP. However, you can easily swipe right or left to read another AMP-enabled article, but at the same time, this might turn out to be a different experience from simply navigating to a publisher’s AMP page.

Activate AMP for my WordPress site

1. Install the AMP WordPress plugin by Automattic
2. Activate the plugin – it will simply append amp on all your pages, but it won’t redirect mobile visitors to your /amp pages
3. Edit your .htaccess file – you could use a FTP program to do this. I personally use Filezilla.

 

Conclusion

Overall, AMP is truly powerful and has the potential to influence a lot of mobile interactions. It also helps web pages load faster which improves usability and makes users stay longer on your site, reduces bounce rate and lifts mobile ranking provided you have good, engaging content.

Author Bio:  As a Manager of the offshore software development company Tatvasoft.com, Vikash Kumar Chaudhary wants to help you improve your website’s page speed by talking about the latest technology updates and hacks. He believes that knowledge is meant to be shared.

First image’ source: https://www.ampproject.org (PDF)
Second image by rawpixel on Unsplash