Heads up, marketers: Google just upgraded the iOS version of their search app. Their aim is to create more seamless UX for users searching on iPhones and iPads by loading all pages 10 percent faster and displaying Accelerated Mobile Page content in results. Google’s underlying goal has always been to connect searchers with the information they’re looking for, and now that AMP is available on the iOS app, it’s clear that marketers can’t ignore the need to optimize for the format. AMP has created new opportunities for marketers to reach their audience, and with each new update those opportunities will continue to expand.
As with most Google updates, this will likely create a need for marketers to re-evaluate their content, site design and SEO strategies to stay up to date, and at the top in mobile search.
The Google search app is so popular on Android, and AMP is so popular on mobile browsers that it’s not surprising Google is bringing the two together for iOS users.
Instant mobile content has become more standard across platforms in the past year. And now, Google is catching up in the overall race for “instant.”
- May 2015: Facebook releases Instant Articles
- July 2015: Microsoft isn’t doing anything live and instant, unless you count their automatic Windows 10 updates.
- September 2015: Apple released News with iOS9
- February 2016: Google announces AMP
- May 2016: Google unveils Instant Apps with Android N and updates the iOS search app
AMPing up your site
Load times & prominent links boost SEO
The design of the AMP result cards will help to drive clicks and impressions, which in turn positively affect SEO, even though AMP itself is not a ranking factor. Google also rewards quick load times and good UX, both of which can be improved when you develop AMP pages.
Having a traditional text link on the front page of a Google SERP has become less effective now that AMP tiles have joined the knowledge graph, Twitter cards, local 3-pack results, advertisements, and live and other featured results, driving up competition for the audience’s attention.
Not only do AMP results gives you an opportunity to be listed in an appealing format more prominently on Google results, but their existence pushes all other listings lower. Organic traffic decreases dramatically for each successive listing, and according to a 2014 Advanced Web Ranking study, the first Google result received 31 percent of clicks, while the second saw only 14 percent, and the third, less than 10 percent. The 10 traditional listings will still exist on page one, but the prime real estate at the top of mobile SERPs is now being taken up by AMP results whether users are searching on mobile browsers or through the Google app.
Faster app speeds keep users engaged
Not only do AMPs load 85 percent faster than traditional sites, but the new upgrade of the app make all pages load quicker, allowing people to access your content with less friction. Now that sites load about 10 percent faster than in previous versions of the apps, users are saving a collective 6.5 million hours per year.
You want to serve your users as quickly as possible to keep them engaged, interested and undistracted. According to Kissmetrics, 47 percent of people will wait about two seconds for a page to load, and 40 percent will hit the back button if it takes more than three seconds regardless of whether they’re browsing on desktop or mobile.
Even with AMPs, the same “Content Marketing 101” best-practices still apply in catching an audience’s attention and getting them to click to your content instead of losing them to your competitor’s’ links:
- Write an actionable, attention-grabbing headline in as few words as possible.
- Choose an appealing (and original, if possible) image that will stand out from the other AMP results.
- Use solid, brief intro copy to keep your fast-paced audience from bouncing when they do click. If you don’t answer their question right away, they’ll look for the next fastest page.
Without optimizing for AMP, your good SEO practices could go to waste. Your target audience, who likely won’t spend more than a few seconds scrolling and looking over the results, might not see your link.
Like with Google’s traditional search algorithm, the way AMPs are selected is not publicly known. However, as evidenced by Google’s efforts to close the gap in their service by expanding AMPs into their iOS app, more updates and changes are coming – most likely in the form of local, B2C and SMB options.
What can you do about it right now?
Hosting content on AMP-enabled pages might not be for everybody yet. Until we can say for sure how Google chooses sites to be AMP results, there is a way for all businesses to get involved immediately. AMP content tends to be news or blogs or other non-landing-page copy, but the ads on those pages can lead to landing pages – specifically, YOUR landing pages.
Look at the AMP results for the terms you want to rank for, and target your ads to those sites’ visitors. As Google continues to encourage its searchers to opt for the fast-loading, appealing card results, expect to see higher impressions and clicks on AMP-hosted ads.
Your audience is already using AMP, so that’s where you need to target your content. If you’re already optimized for AMP, you’re ahead of the game. If you aren’t, it’s a good time to get on board as Google inevitably continues to promote fast-loading, mobile-friendly content formats.