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Mobile-First Indexing and AMP

“Mobile-first” is the new approach Google takes when indexing sites. It means that the mobile version of your website receives the highest priority for what Google includes in their index, and then serves as the baseline for determining rankings.

Why Mobile-First?

25% of web users in America are mobile-only, and the percentage is growing quickly. Those mobile-only users do all of their online activity on a mobile device. They expect either a well-made responsive site or an AMP site. 

What is AMP?

AMP is a Google-backed protocol for building fast-loading, cacheable web pages populated with static content (pages that don’t change based on user behavior). Building in AMP allows pages to be pre-rendered and/or cached, and delivered through Google searches much more quickly than standard HTML pages. You can learn more about AMP protocol here.

The AMP protocol is based on a condensed version of HTML called AMP HTML. Custom Javascript is not allowed in AMP, but the AMP library includes special Javascript functions to cover basic functions.

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Responsive vs. Mobile-First

For many years web development has used responsive design as a way of controlling the way a website degrades.  Due to the long-standing focus on the desktop experience developers typically design the full-size site first, then use responsive design to control the degradation of the site as the viewpoint size shrinks.

Now, with “mobile-first,” the developer approach reverses. Developers should now design first for the smaller mobile viewport experience, and secondarily for the larger tablet and desktop viewports. The viewport can be controlled with a meta tag, which you can read about here.

The thinking behind that approach is that is a developer can create a page that is optimized enough for use as a mobile page, then the larger versions of the page will inherently be more highly optimized, having already satisfied most of the development “best practices.”

Plugins and Pitfalls

If you have a WordPress, Joomla, or Woo Commerce site you’re in luck. There are plugins that automatically convert content to the AMP equivalent, but be careful! You do not want to simply set it and forget it. Always strive to optimize the AMP page beyond what a plugin can do.

Testing AMP Pages

You can easily test your new AMP pages for free through Google Search Console. Just log in and click on “Accelerated Mobile Pages” under the “Search Appearance” menu. You’ll see the number of indexed AMPs displayed, along with any error notifications.

To Learn More
If you’d like to dig deeper into the AMP project, visit the official AMP page, or just contact us. We love talking about this stuff!