When it comes to your website, speed matters. The longer your page takes to load, the more traffic you’ll lose.
A few years ago, Google launched its mobile-friendliness update and made page load speed one of its mobile search engine ranking factors. Today, load speed affects your position in the SERPs; so uses may not be able to see your page at all if it loads slowly.
What’s the solution? Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP. Well, maybe — there’s actually been pushback on AMP pages in recent years.
What is AMP? Is it still relevant? If you want to dig deeper into AMP and learn how to use it to grow your online marketing strategy, you are in the right place.
What Are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)?
The AMP plugin was born out of a collaboration between tech giants like Google and Twitter.
In simple terms, Accelerated Mobile Pages is an open-source project designed to optimize faster mobile pages. It’s like taking a page that’s already mobile-friendly and making it load quicker, by stripping it down to basics.
If AMP isn’t already part of your marketing strategy, you should consider it.
Webmasters, marketers, and SEOs have analyzed how AMP can affect mobile web pages. They found AMP can have a huge impact on mobile search engine rankings, though Google maintains this isn’t directly factual.
In a roundabout way, however, it might be true. According to Google, the AMP plugin increases page load speed, and site speed is a confirmed ranking factor.
Faster mobile pages + readable content = better user experience
In a nutshell, pages that are AMP-optimized load faster and therefore rank better than other mobile web pages.
You can visit the open source initiative platform here.
How Does The AMP Plugin Work?
Paul Shappiro, from Search Engine Land, lays out the three part structure of AMP:
The AMP plugin renders mobile pages faster by cutting back on the HTML coding and rendering only those suitable for mobile users.
This diagram and explanation from Will Critchlow’s Whiteboard Friday make it pretty easy to understand:
AMP renders your pages using optimized HTML code. The pages are expected to load faster because certain HTML code tag manager aspects that would otherwise slow down the page are eliminated.
Here are a few more things you should know:
- With AMP, you have to use a streamlined version of CSS.
- For AMP sites to work every time, they must be properly validated.
- For a better experience, custom fonts have to be specially loaded.
- To avoid quirky-looking images, make sure to declare height and width.
- Use AMP-approved extensions if you want to have videos on your page.
- There has been some controversy with AMP, with some experts reporting it lowers ad revenue and makes it harder to spot “fake news” articles.
Benefits of Accelerated Mobile Pages
There’s a significant correlation between site speed, page views, and mobile search engine rankings.
One thing that you have to remember is that whenever a particular web page loads up quickly, mobile browser users will view more pages on the site, thereby reducing bounce rate.
When bounce rate is reduced and onsite experience increases, Google will reward the page.
Truth be told, there are many benefits to optimizing with the AMP plugin. Here’s the top four:
1. Insanely Fast-loading Web Pages That Users Love
Speed is the lifeblood of your mobile browser page. Great content is important, but unless your pages are accessible, users won’t read them.
AMP helps you to achieve that.
Remember the way and rate at which people consume content (e.g., articles, blog posts, videos, and podcasts) has changed dramatically. People browsing the internet want their content to load quickly as they jump from site to site, usually consuming many different kinds of content in quick succession or even at once.
If your mobile pages are as slow as a snail, you won’t get mobile browsers that land on your site to convert into customers. AMP gives you dramatic page speed increases that will help you keep users who click on your site from clicking away.
2. Improved Mobile Search Engine Rankings
There’s a strong relationship between site speed and conversion rate. If users are happy on a fast-loading site, they’re more likely to subscribe to a list or purchase a product.
Although a lot is still expected of AMP, Google hasn’t yet made it a ranking factor.
Since AMP works closely with mobile pages, it may never be used as an independent ranking factor; it has nothing to do with the desktop version of pages.
That said, since sites that are mobile-friendly are rewarded with higher rankings in organic mobile search results, pages developed with AMP tend to rank higher than non-AMP pages in the mobile results pages (MRPs).
3. Flexible Ad Support
Most people started a website or blog in order to make money and to possibly replace their day job.
Looking at the desktop and mobile browser versions of a site’s pages, it’s easy to conclude if there are too many distractions.
These distractions, such as the header image, navigational menu, sidebar, social share buttons, forms, popups, and other unnecessary elements, can lower your conversion rate.
With AMP, you can get rid of distractions on your mobile browser pages.
That means that you can make money more easily from your ads.
When you click on an Accelerated Mobile Page, it’ll load nearly instantaneously, even before you’re done clicking.
When displaying ads from a third party on your Accelerated Mobile Pages, make sure that you deliver ads that load quickly but also grab the user’s attention and deliver immense value.
As you already know, this content marketing approach is the easiest way to increase your influence, help users get answers to their questions, and improve ROI on ad spend.
If you’re ready to monetize your AMP-optimized pages, here are some of the most popular ad networks that are currently using the AMP-ads functionality:
- Amazon A9
- Google Doubleclick
- Google AdSense
- AOL AdTech
- Smart AdServer
4. User Tracking is Simplified
It’s not enough to send traffic to your mobile browser pages. You also have to know how they arrived at your site.
Tracking helps you determine where people came from, which pages they viewed and so on.
Tracking users and site performance is pretty easy on AMP because there are analytical tools in place, where you can study your AMP versions in greater detail.
User behavior can only be influenced when you track it. With AMP, publishers can utilize such tag manager analytics to choose from two tags.
These tags help to automatically track essential data, such as clicks/conversions, video and link tracking, visitor counts, new vs. returning visitors and more.
Other technology solutions companies, such as WordPress, Parse.ly, Chartbeat, LinkedIn, Adobe Analytics, Pinterest and, of course, Twitter, are also already supporting AMP.
How to Set Up Accelerated Mobile Pages
There are several options when you’re looking to optimize your web pages for AMP. If you’re a beginner, the first step is to maintain at least two versions of your content page.
Your original content page would be the mobile browser friendly version that users will see, but you’ll also have the AMP version of that specific page, which will definitely speed things up.
As marketers, we all want to build our email list. The downside to AMP is that it won’t allow you to easily achieve that.
Moreover, user comments and other activities that users participate in when viewing your content on a mobile page may not be possible with AMP.
Again, the focus is on speed and readability.
To get started with AMP right now, if you’re a WordPress user, then you just need to download and install the WordPress plugin at GitHub.
Simply click on the “Download Zip” button.
Note that you can install the AMP plugin through your WordPress dashboard, just as you would any other plugin. It’s pretty straightforward.
Once you’ve successfully installed and activated the plugin, all that you have to do is append “/amp/” to your blog post pages. Here’s how it looks on a mobile browser:
Here’s the AMP version of this page on The Guardian:
If you don’t have a friendly permalink, then you can append this “?amp=1” instead.
Don’t forget to validate and tweak at Google Search Console. That way, you can help Google pick up your AMP versions faster.
Accelerated Mobile Pages FAQ
AMP pages strip down pages to their essentials, which helps improve page load time. They do this using a three step configuration.
When most of your site traffic comes from mobile devices or you want to lower your bounce rate.
AMP doesn’t appear to be going away, but there has been some controversy. Google recently announced it will not AMP pages for news sites to show up in top stories, so it does seem to be less important.
Accelerated Mobile Pages Conclusion
AMP is powerful, but some marketers say it is losing steam. As an upgrade to mobile-friendly pages, it can help you meet Google’s expectations for site speed.
While there is still a focus on AMP, don’t forget to use proven mobile marketing strategies. That’s the best way to attract mobile customers and grow your business.
Before you leave, I have a question for you: Have you accelerated your mobile pages for speed and readability? If not, what’s stopping you?
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How to Write For Google
Are you writing your SEO content based on the latest best practice tips?
I originally wrote this SEO copywriting checklist in 2012—my, how things have changed. Today, Google stresses quality content even more than before, conversational copy is critical, and there are revised SEO writing “rules.”
I’ve updated the list to reflect these changes and to provide additional information.
As a side note, I would argue that there’s no such thing as “writing for Google.” Yes, there are certain things you should do to make the Google gods happy. However, your most important goal should be writing clear, compelling, standout copy that tells a story.
I’m keeping the old headline in the hopes that I can convert some of the “write for Google” people to do things the right way.
Items to review before you start your SEO writing project
– Do you have enough information about your target reader?
Your copy will pack a powerful one-two punch if your content is laser-focused on your target reader. Ask your client or supervisor for a customer/reader persona document outlining your target readers’ specific characteristics. If the client doesn’t have a customer persona document, be prepared to spend an hour or more asking detailed questions.
Here’s more information on customer personas.
– Writing a sales page? Did you interview the client?
It’s essential to interview new clients and to learn more about their company, USP, and competition. Don’t forget to ask about industry buzzwords that should appear in the content.
Not sure what questions to ask to get the copywriting ball rolling? Here’s a list of 56 questions you can start with today.
– Writing a blog post? Get topic ideas from smart sources
When you’re blogging, it’s tempting to write about whatever strikes your fancy. The challenge is, what interests you may not interest your readers. If you want to make sure you’re writing must-read content, sites like Quora, LinkedIn, Google Trends, and BuzzSumo can help spark some ideas.
– Did you use Google for competitive intelligence ideas?
Check out the sites positioning in the top-10 and look for common characteristics. How long are competing articles? Do the articles link out to authoritative sources? Are there videos or infographics? Do the articles include quotes from industry experts? Your job is to write an essay that’s better than what’s already appearing in the top-10 — so let the competition be your guide.
– Did you conduct keyphrase research?
Yes, keyphrase research (and content optimization) is still a crucial SEO step. If you don’t give Google some keyphrase “cues,” your page probably won’t position the way you want.
Use a keyphrase research tool and find possible keyphrases for your page or post. As a hint: if you are tightly focusing on a topic, long-tail keyphrases are your best bet. Here’s more information about why long-tail keyphrases are so important.
If you are researching B2B keyphrases, know that the “traditional” keyphrase research steps may not apply. Here’s more information about what to do if B2B keyphrase research doesn’t work.
– What is your per-page keyphrase focus?
Writers are no longer forced to include the exact-match keyphrase over and over again. (Hurray!) Today, we can focus on a keyphrase theme that matches the search intent and weave in multiple related keyphrases.
– Did you expand your keyphrase research to include synonyms and close variants?
Don’t be afraid to include keyphrase synonyms and close variants on your page. Doing so opens up your positioning opportunities, makes your copy better, and is much easier to write!
Are you wondering if you should include your keyphrases as you write the copy — or edit them in later? It’s up to you! Here are the pros and cons of both processes.
— Do your keyphrases match the search intent?
Remember that Google is “the decider” when it comes to search intent. If you’re writing a sales page — and your desired keyphrase pulls up informational blog posts in Google – your sales page probably won’t position.
— Writing a blog post? Does your Title/headline work for SEO, social, and your readers?
Yes, you want your headline to be compelling, but you also want it to be keyphrase rich. Always include your main page keyphrase (or a close variant) in your Title and work in other keyphrases if they “fit.”
– Did you include keyphrase-rich subheadlines?
Subheadlines are an excellent way to visually break up your text, making it easy for readers to quick-scan your benefits and information. Additionally, just like with the H1 headline, adding a keyphrase to your subheadlines can (slightly) help reinforce keyphrase relevancy.
As a hint, sometimes, you can write a question-oriented subheadline and slip the keyphrase in more easily. Here’s more information about why answering questions is a powerful SEO content play.
– Is your Title “clickable” and compelling?
Remember, the search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion. Focusing too much on what you think Google “wants” may take away your Title’s conversion power.
Consider how you can create an enticing Title that “gets the click” over the other search result listings. You have about 59 characters (with spaces) to work with, so writing tight is essential.
– Does the meta description fit the intent of the page?
Yes, writers should create a meta description for every page. Why? Because they tell the reader what the landing page is about and help increase SERP conversions. Try experimenting with different calls-to-actions at the end, such as “learn more” or “apply now.” You never know what will entice your readers to click!
– Is your content written in a conversational style?
With voice search gaining prominence, copy that’s written in a conversational style is even more critical.
Read your copy out loud and hear how it sounds. Does it flow? Or does it sound too formal? If you’re writing for a regulated industry, such as finance, legal, or healthcare, you may not be able to push the conversational envelope too much. Otherwise, write like you talk.
Here’s how to explain why conversational content is so important.
–Is your copy laser-focused on your audience?
A big mistake some writers make is creating copy that appeals to “everyone” rather than their specific target reader. Writing sales and blog pages that are laser-focused on your audience will boost your conversions and keep readers checking out your copy longer. Here’s how one company does it.
Plus, you don’t receive special “Google points” for writing long content. Even short copy can position if it fully answers the searcher’s query. Your readers don’t want to wade through 1,500 words to find something that can be explained in 300 words.
Items to review after you’ve written the page
– Did you use too many keyphrases?
Remember, there is no such thing as keyword density. If your content sounds keyphrase-heavy and stilted, reduce the keyphrase usage and focus more on your readers’ experience. Your page doesn’t receive bonus points for exact-matching your keyphrase multiple times. If your page sounds keyphrase stuffed when you read it out loud, dial back your keyphrase usage.
– Did you edit your content?
Resist the urge to upload your content as soon as you write it. Put it away and come back to it after a few hours (or even the next day.) Discover why editing your Web writing is so very important. Also, don’t think that adding typos will help your page position. They won’t.
– Is the content interesting to read?
Yes, it’s OK if your copy has a little personality. Here’s more information about working with your page’s tone and feel and how to avoid the “yawn response.” Plus, know that even FAQ pages can help with conversions — and yes, even position.
– Are your sentences and paragraphs easy to read?
Vary your sentence structure so you have a combination of longer and shorter sentences. If you find your sentences creeping over 30 or so words, edit them down and make them punchier. Your writing will have more impact if you do.
Plus, long paragraphs without much white space are hard to read off a computer monitor – and even harder to read on a smartphone. Split up your long paragraphs into shorter ones. Please.
– Are you forcing your reader onto a “dead end” page?
“Dead-end” pages (pages that don’t link out to related pages) can stop your readers dead in their tracks and hurt your conversion goals.
Want to avoid this? Read more about “dead-end” Web pages.
– Does the content provide the reader with valuable information?
Google warns against sites with “thin,” low-quality content that’s poorly written. In fact, according to Google, spelling errors are a bigger boo-boo than broken HTML. Make sure your final draft is typo-free, written well, and thoroughly answers the searcher’s query.
Want to know what Google considers quality content — directly from Google? Here are Google’s Quality Raters guidelines for more information.
– Did you use bullet points where appropriate?
If you find yourself writing a list-like sentence, use bullet points instead. Your readers will thank you, and the items will be much easier to read.
Plus, you can write your bullet points in a way that makes your benefit statements pop, front and center. Here’s how Nike does it.
– Is the primary CTA (call-to-action) clear–and is it easy to take action?
What action do you want your readers to take? Do you want them to contact you? Buy something? Sign up for your newsletter? Make sure you’re telling your reader what you want them to do, and make taking action easy. If you force people to answer multiple questions just to fill out a “contact us” form, you run the risk of people bailing out.
Here’s a list of seven CTA techniques that work.
– Do you have a secondary CTA (such as a newsletter signup or downloading a white paper?)
Do you want readers to sign up for your newsletter or learn about related products? Don’t bury your “sign up for our newsletter” button in the footer text. Instead, test different CTA locations (for instance, try including a newsletter signup link at the bottom of every blog post) and see where you get the most conversions.
– Does the page include too many choices?
It’s important to keep your reader focused on your primary and secondary CTAs. If your page lists too many choices (for example, a large, scrolling page of products), consider eliminating all “unnecessary” options that don’t support your primary call-to-action. Too many choices may force your readers into not taking any action at all.
– Did you include benefit statements?
People make purchase decisions based on what’s in it for them (yes, even your B2B buyers.) Highly specific benefit statements will help your page convert like crazy. Don’t forget to include a benefit statement in your Title (whenever possible) like “free shipping” or “sale.” Seeing this on the search results page will catch your readers’ eyes, tempting them to click the link and check out your site.
– Do you have vertical-specific testimonials?
It’s incredible how many great sales pages are testimonial-free. Testimonials are a must for any site, as they offer third-party proof that your product or service is superior. Plus, your testimonials can help you write better, more benefit-driven sales pages and fantastic comparison-review pages.
Here’s a way to make your testimonials more powerful.
And finally — the most important question:
– Does your content stand out and genuinely deserve a top position?
SEO writing is more than shoving keyphrases into the content. If you want to be rewarded by Google (and your readers), your content must stand out — not be a carbon copy of the current top-10 results. Take a hard look at your content and compare it against what’s currently positioning. Have you fully answered the searcher’s query? Did you weave in other value-added resources, such as expert quotes, links to external and internal resources (such as FAQ pages), videos, and graphics?
If so, congratulations! You’ve done your job.
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