Boost your Site Speed with AMP

Complete Guide: Boost Your Mobile Page Speed With Google AMP for WordPress

Have you heard about this whole Google AMP for WordPress thing? You may have seen the AMP icon in your Google search results, or maybe you’ve seen it mentioned in posts talking about how to speed up the mobile version of your WordPress site.

In this post, I’ll take you through what Google AMP is and what its pros and cons are. Then, I’ll show you two plugins that can help you easily implement Google AMP on your WordPress site. And finally, I’ll round out with a discussion of how to keep your SEO strong while using AMP pages.

What Is Google AMP?

AMP, short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a project designed to speed up how quickly websites load on mobile devices. Because it’s backed by Google and officially integrated into Google’s mobile search results, it’s often referred to as Google AMP.

So what is Google AMP, and how does it actually speed up your mobile site?

First off, I’ll show you what AMP pages are. Then, I’ll tell you how they speed up your site. Here’s an example of both an AMP search listing and an AMP page from Google’s search results:

Google AMP for WordPress

As you can see, AMP pages get a special designation in Google’s search results (more on that later). But as far as the actual AMP page goes, it looks pretty normal, right? So what’s going on that makes it load so much faster?

How Google AMP Speeds Up Your Site

AMP speeds up your website in two main ways.

First off, it streamlines your page by adding some restrictions on the web tech you can use. While this slightly limits what you can do with your pages, the restrictions aren’t too onerous. They basically consist of:

  • Only allowing JavaScript that’s executed asynchronously to avoid slowing down a page’s rendering speed.
  • Making all resources, like images and ads, sized statically instead of dynamically changing sizes depending on the user.

There are some other tweaks, as well. But don’t worry – I’ll show you a WordPress plugin that will do all of this for you. So if you’re feeling a little confused – that’s totally fine.

The other way that AMP speeds up page load times is by harnessing the power of Google’s servers. Whenever someone visits an AMP version of your site from Google’s mobile search, AMP will actually serve up the page from Google’s own servers, which ensures lightning-quick page load times.

Is Google AMP Good For WordPress Sites?

At this point, it’s tough to argue that Google AMP is bad from a pure speed perspective. But there are some other issues to consider before you run off and install Google AMP for WordPress. Let’s go through some of the pros and cons of using AMP pages.

Google AMP Pros

Let’s start with the obvious – faster page load times. But how much faster? Well, the Washington Post saw an impressive 88% improvement in page load times for AMP content vs. their normal mobile content.

And it’s not just about page speed – because AMP pages get the eye-catching AMP designation in the mobile search results, you can actually increase your organic CTR by using Google AMP. For example, Wired noticed a 25% improvement in click-through rates from the search results after moving their mobile pages to AMP.

Many of these large publishers have also found improvements in user engagement metrics. For example, the Washington Post found that 23% more people returned to Washington Post’s site after moving to AMP. And Slate achieved a 73% increase in visits from each monthly visitor.

Finally – the design restrictions enforced by AMP aren’t really that restrictive. If you’re a big publisher running complex JavaScript, you might run into some issues. But if you’re just a regular ‘ole WordPress user, it’s doubtful that you’ll lose any major functionality by moving to Google AMP on your WordPress site.

Google AMP Cons

On the balance, I think Google AMP’s pros outweigh its cons. But it wouldn’t be fair to sugarcoat things. Here are some possible concerns of moving to Google AMP.

Some major publishers have stated that AMP traffic is harder to monetize. According to the Wall Street Journal, some publishers were only able to generate 50% of the revenue from their AMP pages as they could from their traditional mobile pages.

While plenty of other publishers say they’re having no issue monetizing AMP traffic, this is definitely something to keep an eye on if you make the switch.

Additionally, if you’re using some aggressive email opt-ins strategies, you may not be able to be as aggressive on AMP pages because of the code restrictions.

How Can I Add Google AMP to WordPress?

Ready to give Google AMP a try on your WordPress site? It literally couldn’t be simpler. Automattic has an official AMP plugin that makes it a breeze to set up AMP for your WordPress site. No settings, no customizing. Just activate and go.

Then, if you want more control over your AMP pages, I’ll show you a plugin that you can use to extend the official Automattic plugin.

Setting Up AMP on WordPress With the Official Plugin

To get started, you need to install and activate the official AMP plugin.

Once you activate it, that’s it. There are no settings to configure. AMP is now active on your site, which means visitors from Google mobile search will automatically see the AMP version of your posts and pages.

To access the AMP version of your content, you just need to add “/amp” to the end of your regular URLs:

AMP Test Page Example

As you can see, the AMP version of your page adopts a new minimalist theme. My test site is running the default Twenty Seventeen – which means it’s a pretty big shift. So if you’re serious about implementing AMP, you’ll probably want to add some styling to make it fit with your site’s aesthetic.

To do that, you can use another plugin that builds on the official AMP plugin with tons of customization options.

Extending the AMP Plugin With AMP for WP

Note – even if you use AMP for WP, you still need to install and activate the AMP plugin from the previous section. This plugin builds on Automattic’s plugin – it does not completely replace it.

Once you have Automattic’s AMP plugin installed, you can install and activate AMP for WP.

Install AMP for WP

Now, you’ll get a new AMP tab that lets you configure everything from styles to social sharing buttons and advertisements.

There are two ways in which AMP for WP lets you style your AMP pages. First off, you can use the aforementioned AMP tab.

The settings are fairly self-explanatory. For example, to add an AdSense advertisement, you just head to Advertisement and toggle on your desired ad placement:

Turn on AdSense

But that’s not the only way to style your WordPress AMP pages – you can also use the Live WordPress Customizer to change how your AMP pages look with a real-time preview.

To access that, just head to Appearance → AMP:

Use Live Customizer to Syle AMP Pages

There, you’ll see a preview of what your AMP pages look like as well as options to change a number of styling and functionality options:

Styling Options

You can change colors or drag and drop the elements around to rearrange the order in which your AMP pages display content.

There’s a lot to play around with – but between all of the options, you can pretty much customize every aspect of your AMP pages.

And if you need even more functionality, the devs have extensions for:

  • AMP support for custom post types
  • AMP for WooCommerce
  • Improved call to actions
  • And more

What About Google AMP and SEO?

Because AMP works by adding a duplicate copy of your page with the “/amp” extension, some people worry that AMP might cause a duplicate content penalty.

But don’t worry! The official AMP plugin automatically adds a rel=”canonical” tag to ensure that you don’t get penalized for duplicate content. Plus, because AMP is fully supported by Google, I’m guessing they’ve factored this issue into the search algorithm anyway.

AMP Canonical Tag

The other potential issue you might run into is making sure that the meta information from your chosen SEO plugin is properly implemented into your AMP pages.

Thankfully, if you’re using the popular Yoast SEO plugin, Yoast has released a free extension called Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP that makes sure your Yoast SEO meta information is carried over to your AMP pages.

Additionally, All in One SEO has baked AMP support into its core plugin.

I can’t comment on other SEO plugins’ compatibility with AMP – but if you’re using either of the two most popular SEO plugins, you won’t have any issues.

Wrapping Things Up

AMP is a great way to speed up the mobile version of your WordPress site. And thanks to plugin developers, it’s easy to integrate AMP for your WordPress site without needing to know anything about code.

Judging from others’ experiences, you should notice improved performance and user engagement. The only thing to keep an eye on is your revenue. While some publishers have no problem monetizing AMP pages, others did notice a drop.

So, go ahead and integrate AMP for WordPress – just keep an eye on the revenue you get from the mobile versions of your pages (if applicable).

Over to you – what has your experience of AMP been thus far? Have you taken the plunge? Let me know in the comments below!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means Nimbus Themes may receive compensation if you make a purchase using these links.

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About the Author

Colin Newcomer is a freelance blogger for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing, WordPress, and B2B topics.

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