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How to Optimize Your WordPress Website with AMP

How to Optimize Your WordPress Website with AMP

The Internet is an environment in which the communities of content creators and content consumers coexist and interact between themselves. Each content ecosystem must provide a flawless experience.

One of the most powerful ecosystems on the web is WordPress! When a regular Internet user hears the word “WordPress”, he/she immediately associates it with a blogging platform. However, WordPress has been forever evolving since it has started back in 2003 and nowadays, powers websites and SaaS systems across a wide variety of niches.

This is reflected by the 60% of the CMS market that WordPress owns and by the fact that almost 33% of the websites online are powered by it. This means that there are millions of users that publish and consume content on WordPress!

Even if content creators do impeccable work on WordPress, chances are, if the mobile experience is somehow slow and diminished by an additional JavaScript or optimization limitations of the theme, users will not get the desired experience and walk away.

Entering Google AMP, an open-source project that was launched 3 years ago with the goal of delivering website content fast. Considering that website speed is one of the major SEO ranking factors, and knowing that 53% of visitors will leave your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, a faster WordPress website with Google AMP will definitely increase your conversion rates.

For that reason, in this article, we invite you to read everything that you need to know about AMP and how you can implement it to provide flawless WordPress experience on mobile devices.

What Is AMP?

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source project that was born out of the need for an entire mobile content ecosystem that could be improved by everyone, including publishers, consumer platforms, advertisers, creators, and users.

For content-heavy websites, it’s getting harder to present their content faster on mobile devices. AMP can resolve this problem by using the bare minimum of HTML and a restricted Javascript. With this, your content is hosted on Google AMP Cache, and then the cached version t is presented to users instantly when they click on the search result link.

AMP-based content works in a similar manner to Facebook Instant Articles. But, Instant Articles are limited only to Facebook, while AMP pages can be used by any app or Internet browser.

In a nutshell, AMP will provide the users with a stripped-down version of your articles, but all the important content that you want to present will remain. This can include ads, and it can even include your related posts section.

Why AMP Can Be Beneficial to Your WordPress Site?

There are several arguments that go in favor of using AMP to improve the mobile experience of your WordPress website:

  • Faster Page Load: One of the best ways to improve the UX of your WordPress site is to speed it up, which AMP encourages effectively.
  • Decreased Bounce Rate: Faster load times can successfully decrease your bounce rate.
  • Better SERP positions: The AMP icon that is visible on a link that implemented AMP is an excellent recommendation for the users, which increases your click rate and improves your position in SERPs.
  • Paid Search: The page that you advertise will be opened faster than the pages of your competitors that haven’t implemented AMP.
  • Image Optimization: The Google AMP Cache employs the image optimization stack used by the PageSpeed Modules and Chrome Data Compression.

AMP Drawbacks

There are few possible drawbacks of implementing AMP for your WordPress content:

Despite the limitations above, Google pushes AMP-optimized pages and gives them a boost in mobile search results. This means that If a big portion of your traffic comes from mobile users, then you can definitely benefit from adding AMP support and improve your mobile SEO results.

The Official 1.0 Is Here

A week after WordPress Bebo (5.0) was announced, Alberto Medina, one of the biggest advocates in the Content Ecosystems Team at Google presented the official 1.0 AMP plugin for WordPress.

Version 1.0 of the plugin allows AMP content creation through the standard WordPress content creation process across both the Classic Editor or Gutenberg-based editing.

Features and capabilities of the 1.0 release include:

  • Content sanitizers: for substituting HTML tags for corresponding AMP components, implementing optimizations, and feed validation information to the plugin compatibility tool.
  • Compatibility tool: helps you with the development of AMP experiences via AMP debugging based on exposing extensive and detailed information about validation errors that may exist, the markup/scripts causing them, and the specific components on site.
  • CSS Tree Shaking: assists in the process of putting the CSS-house in order in cases where existing CSS rules exceed the maximum limited permitted on single AMP pages.
  • Core theme support: enabling full AMP validity for four default themes (i.e. 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019).
  • Gutenberg integration: enabling AMP content creation fully integrated with Gutenberg, the new and powerful editing experience in WordPress.
  • Native AMP experiences support: enabling full-site AMP experiences without sacrificing the flexibility of the platform, or the fidelity of content.
  • Code Improvements: from customization flexibility to better UI flows, internationalization, accessibility, etc. Check the full list in this post.
  • Opt-in/Opt-out support: all functionality is available in an opt-in manner. And users that do opt-in have the option of enabling AMP only on specific sections of their site, and also disable AMP at a granular level (e.g. on a single post).
  • Compatibility enforcement: ensures that a site stays AMP compatible and that only AMP-valid content is ever served.

The plugin enables AMP content to be created on your site through the Post Processor module, which automatically handles the conversion of content to AMP (e.g. <img> tag to <amp-img> tag), making content rendering as seamless as possible.

Setting Up AMP Through with a Plugin

Setting up Google AMP on your WordPress website is easy via plugins. If you’ve decided to implement AMP, the first thing that you need to do is install and activate the AMP for WordPress plugin.

Go to Plugins → Add New → then search for “AMP for WordPress” → click on Install Now button and activate the plugin.

When you activate the plugin, go to your WordPress dashboard and click Appearance → AMP. There, you can see how your website looks on mobile when the plugin is activated.

If a 404 error appears when you try to preview the amp version of your page, Visit Settings → Permalinks page in your WordPress admin dashboard and just click ‘Save Changes’ to refresh the permalink structure of your website.

To learn more about building sites, themes, and plugins via AMP, please read this official documentation guide provided from the AMP project.

Validating the Google AMP Code

After you install and setup Google AMP on your website, you need to ensure that your code is valid. If you don’t validate your AMP code, Google won’t be able to show your AMP-optimized links in the search results. For the purpose, you need to use Google’s AMP Validator.

You can also inspect the implementation of AMP via Google’s Search Console, by clicking on Search Appearance → Accelerated Mobile Pages. If you have an error with your AMP integration, Google will also notify you via an email message.

Customizing AMP Further

Automattic’s AMP plugin is really restricted when it comes to customization. But, you can use other plugins to modify AMP, such as Yoast SEO. You can merge both of these plugins by downloading and activating the “Glue for Yoast & AMP.”

In the add-on, after you activate it, you need to visit the SEO → AMP to organize your custom settings for AMP pages.

In the design option of this add-on, you can also pick the color and design layout of your AMP posts.

Wrapping Up

Without a doubt, AMP represents a major change towards improving mobile content publishing. And with WordPress, the integration and AMP set up is easy with a plugin.

Implementing AMP should depend on your type of website, and the type of content that you create. For example, if you’re a magazine publisher and your WordPress site relies heavily on written text, images, and videos combined in the form of news articles, Google AMP definitely makes sense for you!

Bottom line, with more innovations coming in the future, you need to start testing it and see if AMP can successfully replace the entire mobile optimization process of your WordPress site.