person using smart phoneThere’s a change coming in mobile search which you should make sure your webmaster is prepared to handle. That change is Google’s increased use of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in its search results. This is separate from Google’s mobile friendly website requirement which rolled out in 2015. While the Big “G” has said that the use of AMP is not yet a factor in search ranking, it likely will be in the foreseeable future. This is something you should be speaking to your webmaster about. We’ll be setting up AMP on websites we manage, as part of our attorney website and SEO services, over the coming weeks.

The AMP initiative (more on this below) launched in October of 20151. Roughly six months ago Google started including AMP enabled articles in their “top stories” section, which mainly includes content from major news organizations and other news-related websites. On August 2nd, 2016 the search company announced that AMP enabled articles would now start appearing in all search results2. Google made clear that it’s not yet a ranking factor – meaning that they won’t necessarily reward a site using AMP. There will, however, be current benefits to using AMP on your site. If your webmaster doesn’t handle things properly, however, there can also be some disadvantages. Let’s talk about why Google is increasing the use of AMP, what it does, and whether using it is in an attorney’s best interests.

Attorneys should understand why AMP is important to their website

Accelerated mobile pages are the result of an open source project, backed by Google, which aims to allow for faster loading of mobile websites. I’ve previously written on why a slow website costs law firms clients. The reason why is simple – research has shown that for every one second you slow down a website’s loading time, conversions will drop by roughly seven percent.3 This means that if one hundred people, looking at your website, are considering calling an attorney then that lawyer will lose seven of them right off the bat by allowing their site to take one extra second to load. Sites load inherently slower, for technical reasons which I’ll spare you, on mobile devices than they do on a desktop. Google has always recognized the value of a faster web; they’re backing the AMP project to help speed things up for mobile users.

AMP will speed up the loading of websites on mobile devices

Implementing the use of AMP will greatly speed up the loading of a website on mobile devices. I’ll explain how in a nutshell, even though doing so keeps me from showing off geeky knowledge and typing a lot of dry information which I actually find quite exciting. The gist of this is that it causes the browser to load a “stripped down” version of your website which removes most java script and quite a bit of other functionality. In other words, a “lite” version of your website will be loaded. Here’s an example of one of our blog posts with and without AMP enabled:

As you can see, using AMP stripped out our site’s banner, social icons, and breadcrumbs. If you were to scroll the entire site you would also see that it stripped out everything you see in the right hand column – our search box, links to our popular articles, etc. The result of this jumped our mobile loading score, as determined by Google, from 74 to 89 (a huge jump):

Speed after AMP

The downside, of course, is that many things were stripped out of our website as a result. So let’s talk about properly implementing AMP.

Lawyers should properly implement Accelerated Mobile Pages So They Don’t Lose Necessary Website Features

There can be obvious downsides to implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages if your web developer doesn’t handle it correctly. First, you may lose basic things like your header (as shown above) which, in our example above, was how we displayed our phone number (more on this in a second). You may also lose things such as your menu (meaning people can’t navigate your site), contact forms, and more. Worst of all, your site may be stripped of its meta data, which is important for SEO. Hiring a developer who understands how to implement AMP, and maintain certain needed functionality, is crucial. After all, it does no good for your site to load faster if it loses things which are needed to bring you clients.

The screenshots above are for illustrative purposes of what can happen when AMP is set up without adding functions back in. When we go live with AMP on this site, in the next week or so, things such as a navigation menu and contact options will appear.

Should you be implementing AMP? Yep! Why? Because Google likes faster websites and it’s returning AMP articles in search as of yesterday. Do you need to make sure things are set up right? Yep! If you have any questions about the proper set up of AMP on your site then please contact us online or leave a comment below.

References:

1https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/introducing-accelerated-mobile-pages.html
2https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/08/amp-your-content-preview-of-amped.html
3Performance Related Changes and their User Impact, Eric Schurman and Jake Brutlag. Accessed at: http://www.slideshare.net/dyninc/the-user-and-business-impact-of-server-delays-additional-bytes-and-http-chunking-in-web-search-presentation