Last year, Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages, an open-source project with the primary objective of significantly improving the performance of the mobile web. AMP pages (for those afflicted with RAS syndrome) are alternate versions of regular web pages created by online publishers in order to increase page-loading speeds and streamline ads for users browsing on mobile devices.

AMPs are created on a framework that uses a restricted set of code, including lighter HTML and CSS (and practically no JavaScript), with a focus on delivering the content quickly and cleanly, omitting unnecessary features that could negatively impact the user experience. People expect websites to load almost instantaneously, with over half of mobile visitors leaving a page after just three seconds of waiting. AMPs will generally load four times faster than regular web pages, while only using 10% of the data (source: Google’s AMP Top Stories Now Live In Mobile Search Results), differences that can determine whether or not a visitor bounces from a page before it has time to load. A controversial attribute of the project is that all AMPs are hosted on Google servers. While this does further reduce lag time, it also ensures that readers remain on Google as they browse, giving the company more control over the search process.

A loading speed comparison of a regular web page (left) and its corresponding AMP version.

Publishers adopting this technology must create a separate AMP version of the page along with the original desktop article. They are still able to serve ads on these pages, but only types formatted specifically for AMP. Each ad needs to be validated for acceptable speed and safety, and also to make sure the ads don’t obstruct the content. High data-consuming ads are a major source of slow loading times and they are compelling users to install ad blocking software to avoid an inferior mobile experience. Google, whose main source of revenue is online advertising, is heavily invested in people continuing to browse the mobile web, one that contains relevant, unobtrusive ads.

The different ad formats permitted on Accelerated Mobile Pages. (The AMP Channel)

The convenient navigation of AMPs is another improvement over the traditional method of consuming articles on mobile phones and tablets. After clicking on an AMP, which is indicated by an accompanying lightning bolt symbol on the search results, users can simply swipe to the right to browse related articles in the same format, including those by different publishers. This carousel, which appears near the top of the results page, highlights stories that appear on AMP-enabled websites. Along with this feature, with Google emphasizing mobile-friendliness and page-speed for SEO, AMPs are beginning to see improved rankings over incompatible pages.

Accelerated Mobile Pages are being used on over a million domains, including Twitter and CBC, and even e-commerce sites such as eBay have adopted the technology for its products. A growing number of content management systems such as WordPress are now integrated with AMP, making it increasingly accessible for companies to deliver a better mobile experience to their users. People are consuming more content on mobile devices than ever before, and all content publishers should be modernizing their processes in order to be able to serve AMPs, which will prevent them from losing visitors to their competition. The proliferation of Accelerated Mobile Pages and its emphasis on a faster, more engaging mobile web is beneficial for publishers, users and advertisers, and the project is an important step for Google as it continues to shape the internet landscape.