Google’s AMP project is yet another example of how the rules are changing for SEO. More and more mobile devices are connected to the internet every day which makes the need for improved performance on web pages more important. If you haven’t implemented AMP pages on your site it’s probably about time to and here are some important considerations.
What is AMP?
This stands for accelerated mobile pages and it’s an open source (public for everyone) project aimed at making the content experience on mobile devices better. Think of the last time you went to a news site or a private blog on your phone and it took forever to load all of the content, ads, images and other stuff on the page.
It can take a while for phones or tablets to process and render all of the information on a web page. A lot of a device’s resources are spent loading content and functionality that visitors may not be interested in. The goal of AMP is to get content to visitors faster by stripping out a lot of useless information that people won’t even miss.
Why Should Attorneys Care?
Content is a major component of an attorney’s marketing efforts online. It helps get them more exposure in search and it also helps establish them as an authority.
More users than ever before are accessing that content on devices that are not as powerful as desktop computers. If those users cannot access your content easily, they are more likely to go elsewhere for it.
Pages that load faster tend to provide a better experience meaning people are more likely to click on them. In other words, Google has a vested interest in showing AMP optimized articles and blog posts above other content in search (all other signals being relatively equal).
Before You Implement AMP
- Inbound links: When content is loaded on AMP pages, the user is seeing content that is loaded on a Google domain. That creates the potential for people who don’t know a lot (or anything) about AMP to inadvertently create links to the AMP version of your pages instead of your actual pages.Something that may be mitigated now that Google attributes the same amount of link juice to the targets of redirected pages as the pages themselves. It’s still kind of a messy setup though.
- Technical challenges: When AMP pages are created, they are basically stripped down versions of the pages that appear on desktop computers. For many CMSs like WordPress, this is not hard to accomplish. For larger sites with dynamically created pages or for custom websites, implementing AMP could present some technical challenges.
- Getting professional help: Even when you have a site that is easy to implement AMP on, doing it wrong can kill your search rankings and create a poor user experience. Make sure you have someone that knows what they are doing working on your implementation.
Practical Mobile Enhancements
AMP should be on attorney’s radar but it may not be practical to implement right away. Here are some things attorneys can do to make sure they are ranking well in mobile searches:
- Mobile responsive vs. mobile only site: Attorneys should have a responsive site as opposed to mobile-specific pages. The difference is having a responsive site means the site changes based on the screen that is rendering it. Mobile-specific pages are essentially a different site that only shows to mobile users. The draw backs are that any authority from the main site gets diminished for the mobile version. Lawyers also have to worry about updating two versions of their site.
- Strip out unnecessary content: Real estate on mobile device screens is even more limited than on desktop or laptop screens. It’s a good idea to strip out content that doesn’t really add anything to the mobile experience.
- Make elements larger: Lawyers kind of have to dummy-proof their mobile sites. That means making buttons, links and text very large so that they are easy to read by virtually anyone. This makes it more likely that people will stay on your site and click through to other pages (which sends good signals to search engines if users have arrived at your site via a search results page).
The Mobile-First Index
Google is moving toward a mobile-first index in 2018. That means that pages in its index will be the ones that are better for mobile devices as opposed to larger screens. Right now if a site has mobile versions of pages, both mobile and desktop will be indexed.
Those site owners with responsive designs don’t have to do anything but if you don’t have a mobile optimized site or you have separate mobile versions of pages, converting to responsive design will be necessary.
Once Google moves to the mobile first index, having AMP optimized pages will be an even more crucial task.
It is safe to say that the mobile revolution is here and it is not a fad. Computing is only going to advance even more and consumers are becoming increasingly tethered to their mobile devices. Making sure the browsing experience of your website on mobile is as good as it can be ensures better performance in search and greater likelihood of growing your practice through the web.