Google Highlights Accelerated Mobile Pages in Search Results

AMP Accelerated Mobile PagesGoogle has begun to highlight web pages in its search results that make use of its Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) simplified HTML coding, which aims to reduce load times and provide a more seamless browsing experience for web users.

The open source project, which was announced by Google in October last year, mirrors Facebooks Instant Articles technology and hopes to dramatically improve load times for websites that make host a lot of rich content (or have a heavy amount of ad tech integrated).

The project is a response to some of the most common complaints by ad-blocking advocates, who have argued for the adoption of content blockers based on how advertising technology can slow down load times, especially on browsers relying on a cellular data connection.

The technology launched last week, and from today, mobile search results that include AMP-enabled pages will include a label and tiny green lightning bolt icon, much in the same way Google already highlights “mobile friendly” websites. Among those already making use of the AMP coding are the New York Times, BuzzFeed, the BBC, ABC News, the Financial Times, Vox Media, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek.

At the moment, AMP is focused on accelerating news sites, with a carousel-style display at the top of search results similar to when searches produce Twitter results. While Google is doubtless eager to get websites to adopt this new technology, how keen publishers will be to force their content into AMPs more limited frameworks and strip out some of their ad measurement and analytics technology remains to be seen.

David Murphy writes:
IBT Media, which publishes Newsweek and International Business Times, is among the launch partners for the AMP project. Earlier today, I spoke with the company’s head of digital product, Simon Phillips, about why the company had decided to get involved with AMP. He told me: “We want to use very channel at our fingertips to get our message out there and Google is an important channel for us.”

IBT Google carousel tablet & phone HIGH RESHe added that for IBT, AMP was about providing a better user experience, and that in implementation terms, it had not been one of the company’s bigger projects. But he suggested also that it would be wrong to think of AMP at this stage in its evolution as a faster-loading replacement for a publisher’s entire current mobile web offering. “The way it’s been implemented, it is an extension of Google news,” he said. “We still have our mobile site, but for people who use Google News, AMP offers instant loadability.”

IBT’s AMP pages include all the news articles a reader would find on the company’s mobile site, but there’s no home page as, in Phillips’s words, “it’s tricky to build a home page in AMP.” They are also, as per the AMP specifications, stripped of a lot of the third party ad tags that can make mobile pages so slow to load. Certainly, the AMP page links I followed today after searching for ‘The Oscars’ were impressively fast to load and made me realise how slow the typical full-fat mobile web page is by comparison.

Implementation has been fairly painless, Phillips said in conclusion. “It’s a learning process for everyone; two weeks before launch there was no solution round ads, but then it came through, so in the end it was not a problem. Early results are promising; there has been a growth in traffic from Google News but one swallow doesn’t make a summer.”