How to Get a Faster Mobile Website with AMP

We’ve known for years that the mobile user experience for websites is vital — particularly speed. Google found that more than half of mobile visitors will leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. At WordPress.com, we’ve put a solution for faster mobile web pages to the test — using the latest advances in open source AMP framework.

AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is an open-source project that Google launched in early 2016, aiming to get mobile pages working at optimal speeds. AMP solves the problem of clunky, slow-loading mobile web pages to give users a near-instant loading experience on mobile devices.

Eli Budelli, the leader of our mobile team and part of the AMP Advisory Council, introduced us to some of the latest advances in the open-source AMP framework, and we decided to evaluate the impact of these developments.

We tested AMP by assessing how it affected the performance of landing pages on WordPress.com and saw major performance benefits on mobile, with AMP pages being preloaded by search engines. Plus, we noticed a significant cost saving in paid search ads.

AMP Explained

AMP limits CSS, HTML, and JavaScript to load mobile website pages faster. You can opt to have two versions of your web page: one regular and one AMP, or just an AMP page. 

Analysis of 5 million web pages found the average time it takes to load a mobile web page is 27.3 seconds, dropping to 10.3 seconds on a desktop — but both numbers are bad. Users have a 10-second attention span limit, so a 10-second delay can make a user leave a site.  What users actually want is for a page to load in one second or less. AMP can do this — it loads pages almost instantaneously.

You can apply AMP to nearly all content-focused web pages, including any post created with WordPress.com. We started using AMP by taking a bunch of landing pages we already had and converting them to AMP. We wanted to make sure the landing pages were not stripped down too much and stayed as close as possible to their original versions, preserving both functionality and presentation.

Our testing of AMP with WordPress.com pages returned impressive results. WordPress.com Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Specialist Nicholas Garofalo tells us, “In terms of conversions, we’ve seen that AMP has the biggest benefit on mobile devices; that’s where we see the biggest increases. We saw around a 6% lift in our CTA engagements – those are our landing page actions. We tied that to the speed improvements that AMP provides.”

AMP on WordPress

AMP is already available on WordPress.com, and you don’t even need code to use it. AMP does a lot for small businesses and content creators who run WordPress.com sites:

  • AMP optimizes pages to improve average session duration, bounce rate, cost savings with ads, revenue, SEO, user satisfaction, and more.
  • AMP reaches mobile-only audiences. Even if someone is using an older phone, doesn’t have a computer, or has a slow connection, they can still load web pages fast.
  • For small businesses, faster page loading means more money as a result of increased optimization. People are more likely to do business with you if they can easily explore your website and what you offer. But if you’re testing their patience, they may not stick around.
  • WordPress.com automatically creates AMP pages for nearly all posts. Our customers get these benefits without doing a thing and can manually turn it off if they wish. 
AMP feature on WordPress.com
Toggle AMP on and off

AMP is also available for WordPress.org users through a plugin.

Four top benefits of AMP for WordPress.com websites: 

A handful of the benefits of AMP include improved performance, higher engagement, greater flexibility, and better results. 

1. Faster site speed

Pages optimized with AMP load almost instantly. For example, if you’re on your mobile device and searching for something on Google, you’ll pull up an AMP page from search results and notice it loads instantly. That’s because it’s been prerendered, so there’s no extra work needed in delivering it to you. Essentially, it’s been downloaded and rendered before you even click it. Users have an engaging, smooth experience on mobile devices thanks to AMP.

AMP is automatically enabled on WordPress.com websites – you don’t have to do a thing to reap the benefits. 

2. A better user experience

When pages load instantly, the customer experience improves, which can lead to a better conversion rate. You’ve probably been to an AMP page before without even knowing it (aside from recognizing how fast the page loaded after clicking it). Typically, an AMP web page has a lightning bolt icon that shows in search results, indicating that the page supports the AMP format.

AMP lightning bolt on SERPs

3.  Improved performance = a higher Google Ads quality score

You may see cost savings if you’re using paid search ads for your WordPress.com website, such as Google Ads. Why? Google is able to preload AMP pages, making them perform better. And when your pages perform better, your Google Ads quality score goes up. That means that Google considers your ads and landing pages to be relevant and useful to users, and it prioritizes your ads in search results.

4. Designed for the non-technical user

Looking up ways to optimize your mobile website can be overwhelming if you don’t understand the jargon. Let’s assume that you’re already producing great content, so you’re already doing the basics to rank and convert well. 

AMP can take care of three big goals that would be pretty hard to reach without technical knowledge: improving SEO, conversions, and user experience. 

You don’t need to have any technical knowledge (or spare time) to use AMP with your WordPress.com site. We take care of everything for you. But if you’re curious to learn how it works, visit the AMP.dev for more about this project and the people supporting it. 

Our experience with testing AMP has told us something hugely important: it saves a lot of time. 

When you’re really trying to dig in and create a faster site, you end up chasing several small optimizations that together improve speed. AMP does it all for you, and it aligns you with a standard that is being adopted by big organizations like Google and Cloudflare. It’s helpful to align with large, active open source communities — you can leverage a vast, collaborative group of experts who are working hard to improve the software.

The future of AMP

What does AMP look like moving forward? Google is leading this project, which makes some people skeptical — what happens if it fades away? We feel this shouldn’t be a concern. AMP is open source with a robust community. The AMP component library is growing, and the hive mindset of the open source community enables testing and optimization on a vast scale that a single company couldn’t manage. The more people involved, the better the project will be — there are more points of view, more expertise, more skills. 

Here’s the bottom line: mobile users will leave with no promise of ever returning if your mobile website pages don’t load quickly enough. When visitors conduct a Google search on a mobile device, AMP reduces load time to zero —– and when your traffic surges, that’s even more important than usual. 

So, start building a faster site with WordPress.com and take advantage of built-in AMP.

Thousands of small businesses and online stores call WordPress.com home.

Whether you’re looking to promote your business or share your story, we have a plan that’s right for you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Caldwell

{ "Automattic": "Growth Engineering Lead" }

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