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How switching to Google AMP could boost your mobile search traffic

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) could help website owners improve their search performance, the company has said.

AMP is an open-source mobile platform due for its official unveiling in the coming weeks.

The aim is to help website owners provide a quicker, more consistent user experience on mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones.

And because speed and mobile-friendliness are both important ranking signals there could be a search benefit to moving over to the new platform.

Google’s search algorithm uses some 200 signals to determine the best results when you type in a search query, so like any optimisation tweak you make to your site it’s not going to be a magic bullet. But if switching to AMP leads to a better experience for users it could well filter through in a positive way to how your site performs in search.

“[It] doesn’t mean adopt AMP and get a massive boost in search ranking,” Google exec Richard Gingras cautioned in recent comments to the trade magazine, AdAge.

He added: “But without question speed matters. If we had two articles that from a signalling perspective scored the same in all other characteristics but for speed, then yes we will give an emphasis to the one with speed because that is what users find compelling.”

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Google’s push for mobile first

Google has taken a number of steps to encourage website owners to provide an improved user experience for mobile.

Last year, the company rolled out its Mobile-friendly Update, which it warned ahead of time would be bigger than Penguin and Panda.

The Mobile-friendly Update started showing a strong bias in mobile search results towards websites that met Google’s mobile compatibility guidelines.

With more and more web traffic moving to smartphones and tablets Google is concerned that the sometimes clunky and frustrating experience of using desktop-optimised sites on mobile devices will drive users away from the open web and into the walled garden of apps.

Smartphone apps, which are often tricky for Google to crawl and index, have the advantage of being able to offer a slicker, more consistent user experience, which is appealing as the expectations of users rise and their tolerance for delays and inconvenience falls.

Keeping users off the open web

Just as Google is hoping AMP will help keep users on the open web the likes of Facebook are pulling them in the opposite direction.

Facebook initiatives such as Add A Link and Instant Articles are aimed at keeping hold of users rather than sending them out to third party sites via shared links to news stories and other interesting content.

With Instant Articles, users get access to high-quality articles from well-known publishers such as The New York Times and National Geographic on a mobile-friendly platform within the Facebook environment.

This familiar user experience and much quicker load times (up to 10 times faster than opening an external link, according to Facebook) are good for users, while the publishers get a share of the ad revenue.

For Google, these sorts of initiatives are potentially bad news as it means more content that’s difficult to crawl and more eyeball time spent behind a log in.
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