They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice, but you might have noticed that a tiny thunderbolt icon is showing up on the same Google mobile device search results again and again.
If you are not a web developer, you might think the symbol is a warning to check out your local Doppler Radar or that a J.K. Rowling fan snuck a Harry Potter shoutout into the code.
Rest assured the lightning bolt is about neither weather nor wizards, but a sign alerting you that the link you are about to click is a Google AMP page.
Google AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, are pages designed via open source framework for instantaneous or lightning fast load times – thus the thunderbolt icon.
Launched in 2016, Google AMP had a smallish foothold in 2017 with under one million domains utilizing the format for about two billion pages.
Google estimated in 2018 that AMP users had jumped to 31 million domains and more than five billion pages. Statistics by W3Techs show that AMP grew by an estimated 70 percent in 2019 with more than 50 million domains using it.
What is Google AMP
While Google AMP started out with a focus squarely on delivering fast mobile web pages, the framework can also be used to create user-first stories, ads, and emails.
"We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously," said David Besbris, Google’s Vice President, Engineering, Search, "We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant — no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you're using."
Two main things make an AMP page different than a standard HTML page:
- AMP pages have design restrictions that help pages load instantly, including all CSS, which must be in-line and size-bound with size limitations such as CSS to 50KB and JS to 150KB.
- AMP pages are pre-rendered by Google, meaning that AMP pages are already loaded and ready to go before you click on a link. Non-AMP pages do not load until you visit them.
The pre-rendering is really where the speed advantage for AMP comes into play. It is a bit like fast food restaurants where they pre-make certain high-demand items and when you order, you get your food right away.
Value of Google AMP for Bloggers
If you are a blogger, providing quality content is only half the battle because the greatest content in the world will not make a difference if your audience can not find it.
That is why it is important for your content to rank high in search results and why your readers, once they discover the content, can consume it effortlessly.
Moving to AMP should help your page ranking on two fronts: page load speed is a factor in Google ranking results and AMP may be a requirement to rank well in the mobile version of the new Google carousel.
Google said at Amp Fest 2020 that “60 percent of AMP domains pass the Core Web Vitals metrics, compared to 12 percent of non-AMP domains passing the same criteria.”
These Core Web Vitals say your pages should load within 2.5 seconds or better. This is important because Google statistics shows that every one second delay in load times can impact mobile conversions by up to 20 percent.
Benefits of Google AMP for Viewers
The benefits of Google AMP for viewers is clearly the speed with which pages load on mobile devices.
While we live in a world moving to 5G internet, the reality is that many people around the globe are still on 3G or even slower connections. This means that slimmed-down mobile pages that load smoothly are a must to access content.
Keep in mind that Google estimates that the average mobile page takes 15.3 seconds to load on a 4G connection while the medium load time for an AMP page is 0.7 seconds.
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