How important is AMP for SEO?

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AMP is a growing part of the modern web. While AMP will help you to speed up your content, it can also have a significant impact on your SEO and Website Visibility. Read on for a detailed explanation of what to expect with the implementation of AMP.

What is AMP?

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are stripped-down HTML versions of webpages designed for mobile web browsing and fast mobile speeds. You can choose to have a non-AMP version and an AMP version of your page, or just an AMP version.

AMP logo

AMP was originally created by Google as a possible competitor to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. Google fetches AMP HTML pages, caches them, and improves page performance automatically. In fact, AMP page loads about four times faster than its non-AMP counterparts.

AMP as Search Results

Google initially showed AMP results only in their news section of the search. Later on, Google announced AMP as part of the ten blue links, and now, if a site with AMP has a page shown in the mobile search results, Google will replace that page with the AMP version of the page, and include an AMP designation at the front of the description snippet. But wait, there’s more. AMP can appear in:

  • Top stories carousel
  • Host carousel
  • Basic results
  • Rich results
  • Visual stories
Google Top stories carousel

AMP as Ranking Boost

Ever since the appearance of AMP’ed results in Search, many SEOs have been putting a serious effort into AMP implementation and using it as the mobile version of their sites in order to receive an additional ranking boost from Google.

Is it true? Does it pay off?

Well yes, but actually no.

While it’s true that AMP improves loading speed, there won’t be any extra ranking boost simply for enabling AMP on your site. AMP itself isn’t a ranking factor. There is only one boost available for being mobile-friendly, regardless of the technology used to build the page.

AMP and Mobile-first Indexing

Not everybody understands the differences between AMP and mobile versions of pages. Not even every SEO expert can discern these two implementations.

AMP is super mobile-friendly, it is lightning-fast, and it is specifically designed for mobile. However, AMP is not the same as having mobile-friendly pages. It’s simply a separate format and it shouldn‘t be used as an alternative to the mobile version of your site.

With the mobile-first indexing change, there was some concern about how Google would handle AMP indexation.

AMP mobile-first indexing

And here‘s what will probably disappoint some of you out there. By default, Google won’t use the AMP version of your page for the mobile-first index, even if there is no other mobile version apart from AMP. It will pick your desktop version, instead. The only exceptions to this rule are if you have an entire website built in AMP or you use a “rel=alternate” tags to force Google into using the AMP version.

The underlying message is clear: the mobile-first index isn’t crawling your site for AMP pages, they’re looking at whether your actual site is mobile-friendly or not.

Should you adopt AMP?

As explained above, whether or not you should use AMP isn’t directly related to the mobile-first index.

Some Positivity about AMP

amp advantages

Loading speed aside, AMP does have some other benefits, especially when it comes to rich results on mobile search. It is an open secret that Google favor AMP articles for rich results and carousels.

It’s important to note that rich results appear at the top of the SERP, even if you aren’t ranking top in the basic results. That is to say, users see them first.

Increased visibility is crucial for such publishers as The Washington Post, Wired and CNBC. So it’s not surprising that they all saw big improvements with Google AMP. However, these are news-based sites with lots of daily content and an ad-driven economy.

Understanding the Drawbacks of AMP

As with any process, there are also disadvantages that must be considered along with the benefits of AMP.

AMP disadvantages

Conflicting information and consistent template updates can make AMP difficult to implement. Hence, you will spend a lot of time and effort on creating the AMP version of your website.

Converting your content to AMP will provide a potential positive impact only if implemented correctly. And even then, AMP puts significant restrictions and limitations on many things like ads, link building, JS, CSS, forms, and pop-ups.

So it can be an entirely different story for small websites whose primary focus is generating leads and signing up customers. For such businesses, AMP implementation creates extra maintenance work that will eventually be more costly and troublesome than just actually working on optimizing the page performance in general.

Whether or not AMP is right for you depends on a variety of factors that aren’t even universal to every website.

However, one thing is clear: AMP is not for everyone. But the choice is yours, of course.