By James A. Martin

The next big thing in SEO is AMP, or Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages. Search pros break down AMP and share insights on what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve.

Last year, the search engine optimization (SEO) community was all abuzz about “Mobilegeddon,” or Google’s mobile-friendly search engine algorithm.

This year, the mobile SEO buzz is focused on Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), though this time there’s less “doomsday” urgency. But what exactly is AMP? Who needs to implement it and why? What are the potential pitfalls? And what role does the IT department play?

We asked a number of SEO experts for answers.

1. What is Google AMP?

AMP is an open source project designed to help web publishers create mobile-optimized content that loads instantly on all devices, according to Google. “We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously,”Google wrote in a blog post. “We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant — no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using.”

Google’s goal with AMP is to deliver the best possible mobile experience to its users. “Google wants to get information to the end user as fast as possible,” says Michael Bertin, search marketing expert for digital marketing agency iQuanti. “Google doesn’t want the user to have to wait to read or see something.”

Rudy Galfi, Google’s AMP product manager, said at a recent marketing conference that the median load time for AMP-coded content is 0.7 seconds, according to SearchEngineLand.com. In comparison, the median load time for non-AMP pages is 22 seconds, or “the time it takes for you to leave the site and never come back,” Galfi said.

On February 23, 2016, Google officially integrated AMP-powered web pages into its mobile search results. AMP-coded pages appear in a mobile search results “carousel,” and they feature an AMP icon that looks like a thunderbolt, as well as the acronym “AMP.”

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6. What are Google AMP’s potential pitfalls?

Like any significant technological change, AMP takes some getting used to, according to Petty. “It’s harder to implement at first, but tools, plug-ins and add-ons evolve to make it almost automatic,” he says. “Think of where SEO was a few years ago. Manually hand-coding meta tags and other elements was the norm. Now SEO plug-ins prompt users with exactly what they should do to improve ranking, without having to know SEO.” And an AMP WordPress plug-in “does a pretty good job, and it will evolve over time” to make it simpler for everyone, Petty says.

The main pitfall “is understanding the limitations of the AMP platform,” Enge says. “One of the big reasons AMP is faster is that it restricts how you can code your pages in significant ways.” For example, you have to use an AMP-supplied JavaScript library (if you use JavaScript), which is very limited in what it can do, he says. “Currently, you can’t implement forms unless you use iframes, and even then, they must be below the fold.”

“It’s a bit like going back to the early days of HTML websites, so it may not allow your fancy branded design the way you’re used to doing it or give you all the functionality you’re used to having on your pages,” Enge says. “Effectively, you’re starting your site design over again, but this time you make site speed one of the top two or three requirements. ”

Another downside is that when readers share links to AMP content that they clicked on through a Google search, the links point to Google.com URLs, rather than to the content developers’ sites, as pointed out by Wired.com earlier this year. This change could negatively impact content developers’ site traffic, according to Mike Kisseberth, chief revenue officer of digital content and services firm Purch.

AMP “creates a potential challenge on the analytics side, as it’s impossible to be 100 percent sure where a publisher’s content will be loaded from, as well as complications with visitor identification due to tight cookie restrictions,” says Paulsen.

Read the full article here: http://www.cio.com/article/3091071/search/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-google-amp.html

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