Mobile SERPs: Is AMP Important for SEO?

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) first rolled out six months ago and Google made it clear more changes would be coming. Initially, AMP results only displayed in the ‘Top stories’ section of mobile searches and within the Google News app.

However, this is about to change as Google says AMP will display in the main stack of organic results. So how will this affect your mobile rankings and is it time to sign up to the AMP project?

Here’s what organic AMP looks like

If you’re reading this on mobile, Google has created a live demo where you can see the AMP update. Otherwise, you can get an idea of what’s ahead from this screen grab:

Mobile search results animated

As you can see, the results look just like any other – aside from the AMP thunderbolt icon where you would normally see ‘mobile-friendly’.

AMP is not a ranking boost

Google said early on that there’s no ranking boost associated with AMP, although it hasn’t ruled this out from happening in the future. So at this stage there is no direct ranking boost to having your pages built with the AMP framework – that’s the key point.

Another important note is AMP will replace the regular version of the same page in mobile SERPs. There won’t be any duplicate results and AMPs don’t have any advantage over other results around them. They’ll be ranked according to how the regular version of that page performs in Google.

This means the speed boost and low-ad percentage of AMP pages have no impact on your overall ranking. However, there could be indirect boosts from lower bounce rates, more time spent on pages and more pages visited.

Is it time to create AMP pages?

AMP certainly ticks a lot of boxes for mobile users. These pages aren’t just lighter and faster, their ads are far less obtrusive too. Sadly, things aren’t quite so clear-cut for website owners. Google knows setting up pages in AMP can be tricky – especially for existing pages that rely on heavy code.

“We want to give everyone who might be interested in ‘AMPing up’ their content enough time to learn how to implement AMP and to see how their content appears in the demo.” Google

What Google isn’t making particularly clear is that AMP is only really designed for content publishers. So we’re talking about blog posts and news articles here, not feature-rich pages on eCommerce stores. Any of your pages running Javascript for animations, pop-ups, contact forms or anything else simply aren’t compatible with AMP at this stage.

If the traffic you generate from your blog posts is particularly valuable, then AMP is definitely worth looking at. Otherwise, you’ll have to assess how much work it takes to build AMP pages and ask whether it’s worth it.

The good news for WordPress site owners is you already have various plugins promising to make this process easier. So, if you’re excited about the idea of AMP, testing out a few pages in WordPress is a good way to introduce yourself to the technology. You may find the lack of functionality simply doesn’t work for you, but the good thing about AMP is you can take it one page at a time.

Don’t get swept up in the hype

Understandably, there’s a lot of hype around AMP right now and it’s easy to see why. The promise of lightening-fast pages and higher click-through rates is compelling stuff. However, it’s important to understand the limitations of AMP and the compromises you have to make by using it.

The majority of brands have little more to gain than speeding up their blog posts. And this is fine, but it often comes at the expense of lead-capturing techniques like email signup prompts or contact forms.

Finally, let’s make it absolutely clear you don’t need AMP to build fast web pages. Any developer can match the speed of AMP by taking it easy on the code and keeping things lightweight. The difference is you get to decide which features are essential and which ones to drop. The downside is you don’t get that snazzy lightning bolt next to your result in the mobile SERPs, of course.

More mobile-related content:

9 reasons your website doesn’t work on mobile

How to use context to improve your mobile search results

6 tips for creating mobile-friendly content

Need help with your mobile SEO?

Find out more about our mobile SEO services or if you’d like to speak to one of our SEO / content specialists, contact us on 02392 830281 or submit your details here.

Dave Colgate profile picture
Dave Colgate

Dave is head of SEO at Vertical Leap. He joined in 2010 as an SEO specialist and prior to that worked with international companies delivering successful search marketing campaigns. Dave works with many of our largest customers spanning many household names and global brands such as P&O Cruises and Harvester. Outside of work, Dave previously spent many years providing charity work as a Sergeant under the Royal Air Force Reserves in the Air Cadets sharing his passion for aviation with young minds. He can often be found in the skies above the south coast enjoying his private pilot licence.

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