You need your WordPress site to load fast. Time after time, studies have shown that users want websites to load increasingly quickly. And that’s even truer on mobile, where data plans can slow things down. To combat slow data connections, one great way to speed up your site on mobile is to set up Google AMP for WordPress (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
What is Google AMP?
Google AMP, short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is an open source mobile initiative from Google aimed at speeding up the mobile web. It essentially lets you create stripped-down versions of your posts and pages and serve them up to mobile visitors. For those visiting from Google Search, Google will even cache your AMP content to load it even faster.
AMP is great for content that is not interactive. If your site requires lots of interaction, the stripped-down code standards of AMP will likely get in the way. But if your site is primarily “read” by your users, then AMP is a great way to speed up your pages without losing functionality.
If you’re familiar with code, we also have a post with a more developer-centric explanation of Google AMP.
What are the benefits of Google AMP for WordPress?
The main benefit of Google AMP is improved page load times. How big is the improvement? Well, that depends on how optimized your current mobile site is. But it can be pretty substantial:
Jarrod Dicker of the Washington Post says that their AMP pages load an average of 88% faster than their non-AMP mobile site. What’s that in real time? Under 400ms page load times. That’s pretty incredible.
AMP content also gets special search results
It’s not just page load times, though. Content that complies with all AMP standards also gets special consideration in Google’s mobile search results. AMP pages get an “AMP” designation and a chance to appear in the carousel at the top of the search results:
Google has stated that AMP is not a direct ranking signal. But the AMP designation should increase your organic CTR in mobile results.
But does Google AMP have drawbacks?
Some publishers aren’t happy with Google AMP for WordPress. Most of these criticisms come down to one thing:
Because AMP is stripped-down, it does limit advertising opportunities. Ads are allowed in AMP content, but they can be more difficult to implement. And although Google is expanding the number of ad types supported by AMP, some publishers still report lower revenue from AMP pages than traditional mobile pages.
I can’t say for sure how AMP will affect your revenue. Plenty of other publishers report being able to earn equivalent amounts from AMP pages. You’ll have to see for yourself.
How to set up Google AMP for WordPress
Automattic has made it very easy to implement basic AMP pages for WordPress with a simple plugin. But this plugin doesn’t give you any ways to configure how your AMP content functions, so later on I’ll show you another plugin to help customize your AMP pages as well.
Configuring the basic Google AMP plugin for WordPress
The basic AMP plugin comes straight from Automattic and requires zero configuration.
All you need to do is install and activate it. Then, you can view AMP versions of your posts by appending “/amp” to the end of your normal post URLs:
But the basic AMP plugin has some major weaknesses:
- It only works for posts. Not pages.
- You can’t configure how your AMP content looks or functions
Here’s how you can fix those problems:
Adding advanced functionality to your AMP content
To add a whole heap of new functionality/configuration options to your AMP content, you can use the AMP for WP plugin.
Note – this plugin works in conjunction with the previous plugin. That means you need the previous plugin installed and activated in order to use this plugin.
AMP for WP gives you the ability to:
- Configure how your AMP content looks
- Add AdSense ads to AMP content
- Add social buttons to AMP content
- Enable AMP for your pages (not just posts)
To get started, install and activate the plugin. As long as you have the basic AMP plugin activated as well, you should see a new AMP tab in your sidebar:
To configure the design of your AMP pages, you can use the actual WordPress Customizer by going to Appearance → AMP:
There, you can customize your layout and color options:
Adding ads to your AMP content
To add AdSense ads to your AMP content, you can go to the Advertisement tab and configure different AdSense blocks.
All you need to do is pick your ad location and size and add your publisher data:
The plugin also has a premium extension which offers support for more ad types, including a sticky ad bar. This extension costs $19.99.
Adding social buttons to AMP content
To add social buttons, you just need to go to the Social tab. There, you can enable or disable individual networks:
You can also completely disable social buttons in the Single tab.
Enabling AMP for WordPress pages
If you want to display AMP versions of your WordPress pages as well, you can enable this feature by going to the General tab and then scrolling down to AMP on Pages:
You should also play around with the other minor settings offered by the plugin. But the above should take you through configuring all the major functionality.
FAQ – Frequently asked AMP questions
There are two common questions when it comes to AMP and WordPress. I’ll try to preemptively answer them below.
- What about duplicate content penalties?
Because the plugin adds a duplicate AMP version of your page, you naturally might worry about duplicate content penalties. But you don’t need to! The plugin adds “rel=canonical” tags back to your original WordPress post which eliminates any potential for a duplicate content penalty.
- Do you need to redirect users to AMP content?
You actually don’t need to worry about redirecting users. Google will automatically send search visitors to AMP versions of your pages as needed. Other websites which support AMP content (Pinterest, etc.) will do the same. But if someone on mobile visits your site directly, they will not be redirected to the AMP version of your content.
Wrapping things up
Google AMP for WordPress is a great way to speed up your site for your mobile visitors. It’s not for every site – you’ll definitely need to keep an eye on how it affects your revenue.
But if your revenue doesn’t take a hit, AMP will make your visitors happy and get you that nice AMP designation in Google’s mobile results.
If you need any guidance getting started with Google AMP for WordPress, leave a comment below and I’ll try to help out.