Google search services, which now resides under the parent company Alphabet has made a history of being at the forefront of technology, user-experience and web visibility for brands looking to get their information in front of the right eyes. Sometimes, however, its best ideas are simply copycats with a twist.
The search giant has recently introduced its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. As its name implies, AMP is intended to speed up the delivery of mobile web pages. This will allow Google to pre-render articles that match a given query, allowing for a faster delivery of content. SEO best practices already tell us that many users will abandon a page taking 2 seconds or longer to load. As the data market leader for many of these best practices, Google takes page-load speed very seriously.
This has significant impact – nearly half of all web searches come through mobile devices. More importantly, HCPs need this information quickly and are continuing to increase their mobile usage. According to Media Vitals, our proprietary survey tool, 65% of HCPs use online search through their smartphones and tablets to drive prescribing decisions. In an effort to create the fastest mobile browsing experience possible, Google has introduced new standards to allow these searches to receive the most expedited transition possible.
What is the AMP Project?
Although they’d never tell you, the AMP project is, at least partly, a response to the success of Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. It is a logical next step in Google’s aim to provide answers to questions with as little work as possible on behalf of its searchers.
AMP positions featured mobile stories at the top of results for relevant queries. Take the example of a query for “news”. Google has partnered with over 30 publishing partners, at this time, to populate articles into a carousel that is intended to give you today’s news.
To set the groundwork for AMP’s success, Google created a series of open-source HTML templates, which are posted on Github. Its 30+ current partners use and manipulate the templates to provide a stripped down version of the website, from a style and code perspective. Fortunately, any brand can do the same thing. In exchange for the more-easily loaded webpage, Google offers premium placement that pushes everything outside of the mobile carousel below-the-fold.
How will this affect the way we look at SEO…and how do I join in?
None of the rationale for AMP is necessarily new… simply the implementation. Google has been talking about the importance of site speed since 2009. The increasing dominance of mobile as the medium of choice has, however, led Google to make some big decisions. Think about it, if you use Google on your mobile phone to find an answer to a question, but all of the websites are loading slowly, you’re likely to blame Google (even if the real culprit is a snail’s pace connection). However, if you’ve already gotten to Google for your answer and a list of potential answers to your question are already pre-loaded, Google looks like a hero. You get your information faster and, in turn are more likely to continue to come back to Google for answers in the future.
The biggest effect of this is the shifting down of mobile results, in favor of the AMP carousel. At this time, results are generally being populated by the likes of NY Times, Mashable and Buzzfeed, however, implementation of the AMP approved formatting is surprisingly easy. For websites built on WordPress themes, simply download the AMP plugin and install. For alternative CMS platforms, you’ll have to use the GitHub framework to design your webpages and append “/amp/” to each page in order to comply.
In addition to joining the carousel of results, the AMP project also increases the importance of building your content profile with AMP-partner publishers. It’s likely that many of pharma’s top publishing partners are already planning how to get this live. If you’re planning custom content programs for the upcoming year, think of how to get some of that content to appear on more high-volume searches where AMP results may be implemented. Chances are that major medical publishers will have the clout to rank much more quickly than your brand site, even if both are AMP-enabled. Content marketing is often a recommended part of your media mix, and this adds even more reason to use it.
AMP may be in its infancy, but it’s not going anywhere
Although this is a new program for Google, its overall acceptance by Facebook, Apple and the consumers that use these programs for news is good reason to believe that AMP is here to stay. This is an easy win, particularly for brands that haven’t fully invested in mobile at this point. The stripped down styling of the webpage offers a clean, fast and possibly well-positioned opportunity to appear in mobile results. At this time, the biggest wins are likely to be for those brands who can rank for high-volume keywords, like “diabetes,” “multiple sclerosis” or “breast cancer,” whether for their own websites or on a publishing partner. It is important to keep in mind that this is only the first step for Google. Although the project isn’t focusing on more long-tail opportunity, the chronology of projects like “Instant Answers” and “Knowledge Graph” tell us that these projects rarely ever do.
The good news is that you don’t have to figure out all of these answers alone. Reach out to the CMI search engine optimization team to discuss how this may align with your brand’s goals and objectives, as well as the best way to move forward.