AMP (or Accelerated Mobile Pages) is, simply put, a way of showing visitors a stripped-down version of your website. AMP is for any website – not just WordPress. But if your site runs WordPress it’s easy to add AMP if you decide you’ll benefit from it (I’ll provide the steps below).
First, though, I’ll give you enough background on AMP to help you make the choice that’s right for your site.
The Google-led AMP initiative has been around for a couple of years. Even if it’s news to you, I bet you’ve noticed AMP links in Google search results. Or, you might’ve found yourself unintentionally reading the AMP version of a blog post on a favorite site, while wondering if the site owner had suddenly embraced minimalism.
Here’s a recent A Fearless Venture post as seen on mobile, in both formats.
Wondering why you might want to implement AMP after spending thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours perfecting your site design?
There are good reasons, as well as some caveats. I’ll give you quick & dirty details that’ll work for probably 95% of us, plus some links for additional reading for the other 5% (as well as you nerds who just want to know…love you guys 😉 ).
What’s good about AMP?
First of all, AMP pages usually load really, really fast. They’re geared toward mobile users, who have to contend with much slower internet connections than people browsing via cable connections.
In addition to quicker page load speeds, the post content area in an AMP page is larger and easier to read. Again – providing a better experience for mobile users.
No extra work
AMP isn’t an old-school separate mobile design. It’s a technology that takes your existing content, filters it for what it thinks is important, and spits it out onto the screen with minimal styling.
While this is a mixed blessing (we’ll talk about that in a sec), it’s far better than dealing with a separate design like we did back in the dark ages of website design.
If your site is on WordPress.com, you’ve been delivering AMP-formatted posts (whether you want to or not) for the last couple of years. You don’t need to do anything to take advantage of AMP.
Potential SEO bonus
Lastly, there’s evidence that AMP pages are ranked more favorably in Google search engine results. Hmmm…favoring pages that use a technology they are pushing? Imagine my surprise…
As you might expect, according to some people that last “good thing” is self-serving and maybe even nefariously motivated.
A peek at potential downsides of AMP
It’s not automatic
AMP pages won’t load automatically for visitors using mobile devices. I actually don’t consider this a downside, but you might.
Although there are ways to force all mobile users to your post’s AMP version, if you have a well-designed responsive website you may want to skip this intervention.
If you don’t do anything, visitors who see your AMP content will most likely show up via Google search results.
It’s not ugly, but it’s not very pretty
A Fearless Venture is a responsive site. I like the elements I’ve employed in its design better than the those in the out-of-the-box AMP version.
But you know what? If my site is more about my preferences than making it easy for you guys/girls/gangstars, my priorities are messed up. That’s why I’m leaving the AMP versions out there, even if it’ll be 2019 before I get around to tweaking their styles to make them prettier.
AMP omits things you might wish it didn’t
Some of your plugins won’t work right or at all on AMP pages.
Despite my multiple references to pages, and the ‘P’ in AMP standing for Pages, AMP works only on posts right now. I guess that covers most of the leisurely reading people tend to do on mobile devices.
If you depend on revenue from ads that are pushed to the bottom of the page (or not loaded at all), AMP will probably reduce your ad revenue.
AMP depends heavily on Google
Part of the built-in speed comes from Google’s caching of the content. This could be a non-issue or a biggie, depending on whether the post changes or Google’s caching craps out.
There are potential issues with accurate Google Analytics tracking, although the WordPress implementation I’ll cover in a sec should sort that out.
Lastly (as far as I know), there’s the whole Google Wants to Control the Universe argument.
Some media companies believe that what the search giant really wants is to strengthen its control over the web—and more specifically, its control over how the web is monetized.
In a nutshell, these publishers are afraid that while the AMP project is nominally open-source, Google is using it to shape how the mobile web works, and in particular, to ensure a steady stream of advertising revenue…
— Mathew Ingram / Fortune.com
If I had to guess I’d say the truth of the matter is somewhere in the middle, and you ought to act in a manner that best serves the interests of you and your audience.
In other words, yeah – 95% of you should go ahead and set up AMP.
What’s the best way to set up AMP on a WordPress site?
As much as I preach about not installing plugins, this is honestly the best way for most people to deal with the AMP situation.
This method requires the Yoast SEO plugin (free), which you should have for dozens of other reasons besides that the Glue plugin won’t work without it. Install Yoast SEO before proceeding if you don’t already have it.
Ready to get AMP up and running on your site? If you’ve got a whopping five or ten minutes, proceed through the following steps and you will be good to go:
- Install and activate the AMP for WordPress plugin from Automattic, the people who make WordPress.
- Install and activate Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP.
- Check out the AMP version of any of your blog posts and see what you think about the default style. To get to the AMP version, click the new AMP button next to the Preview button in your WordPress post editor. Alternatively, just add /amp to the end of any post URL.
- Tweak styles as needed using the Design tab you’ll find by going to Yoast SEO > AMP in your WordPress admin.
Questions, concerns, comments or corrections? Use the handy form below & let me know.
Further reading & resources
Should You Be Using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)? on Forbes.com
What Are the Pros and Cons of AMP? at SearchEngineJournal.com
The official Accelerated Mobile Pages Project website at AMPproject.org