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Getting Amped for AMP Project

What you need to know about a new way of serving up content for search engines and users.

There’s a new project in town that promises to influence how your content performs in search and how your users experience and consume it. If you’re a healthcare marketer responsible for the search and experience side of digital strategy, you’re going to want to keep it on your radar. Early indications already suggest that it has the potential to reshape how you publish content to the web.

So what is this new project? It’s the new Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project.

What is the AMP Project?

AMP is a collaboration between technology partners and content publishers that provides a new way to serve content to mobile users at blisteringly fast speeds. It does this by a number of means, including:

  • Extending HTML with a new ‘AMP HTML’ that restricts the use of many of the web design techniques that slow down page load times and contribute to page bloat.
  • Restricting the types of JavaScript used on a page. Asynchronous JavaScript only, and no third-party scripts allowed (with some exceptions).
  • Caching pages and content using Google’s new AMP Cache.

The result of all this is that on average, pages that correctly implement AMP and are served from Google’s content cache load five times faster and use ten times less data than their non-AMP equivalents.

What’s more, search results for mobile users will link to the corresponding AMP pages that Google has cached on its own servers. This means your servers and hosting infrastructure will not be used to serve AMP content to mobile users when they follow links from Google search results.

Why would I want to use AMP pages?

The truth is, you might not. There are certainly some vocal opponents to AMP out there, and nobody will force you to create AMP versions of your content. But like it or not, making Google happy is often good for business. To encourage publishers to adopt this new project and embrace AMP, Google is promising lucre in the form of rich snippets in search results, improved ranking signals and more. But be weary: some of these benefits will only appear if you’re using the appropriate schema.org markup and have a sound AMP implementation that isn’t rife with errors. There’s even some speculation that you should meet the general, quality and technical guidelines for Google News in order to qualify. As is frequently the case: there are no guarantees. You can have a sound technical implementation but never see a rich snippet or SEO boost.

How do I AMP-lify my content?

Unless you are hand-coding your web pages, chances are that you’ll need to look towards your CMS vendors and partners for recommendations and solutions. Most content management systems today do not render AMP HTML out of the box without some tweaking. With that said, we’re currently evaluating AMP support in VitalSite, and need to hear from you if this is a feature you’re interested in. If so, please discuss with your CA or let us know by using the contact us form on our site. We may even have followup questions for you as we continue.

Should I AMP-lify all my site pages?

At this time, no. AMP is currently identified as being for news and syndicated content types. So if you have a press release section on your website, it’s possibly worth investigating. If you have a blog, it’s likely time to consider whether it will make sense to use AMP there.

At this time, AMP is not for all your content pages. But don’t be surprised if that changes. There are already tantalizing (or frightening) indications of this on the AMP Project blog:

The goal is for all published content, from news stories to videos and from blogs to photographs and GIFs, to work using Accelerated Mobile Pages. (emphasis added)

As a result, I’ve already seen people add AMP versions of all their site pages. Personally, I don’t think that’s warranted yet…but I won’t be surprised if we see the scope of AMP grow to become more inclusive than it currently is positioned.

Staying current with AMP

AMP is an important topic for webmasters and web publishers alike. Even if it’s not something you’re interested in pursuing today, it’s something you can’t afford to ignore completely. Changes in this space could reveal real opportunities that force you to reconsider your approach to AMP. For that reason, it’s a topic we’ll continue to cover in the future. So if you’d like the latest on AMP for healthcare marketers delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.

Getting Amped for AMP Project