Google has started marking websites that are optimized for viewing on mobile devices with an "AMP" icon in mobile search results.
The idea is to give users a way to identify sites that will load faster on smartphones and tablets and provide what the company says will be an overall better viewing and navigating experience than sites that are not optimized for mobile environments.
The move to highlight mobile-optimized sites is part of an ongoing effort by Google to get website owners to adopt an open-source standard called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Google has described AMP as an HTML framework based on existing web technologies for building lightweight pages and websites for the mobile web. Video, images, maps and other media rich content will upload more quickly and cleanly on mobile devices when sites are AMP-enabled, the company has claimed.
This week's move to highlight AMP-enabled pages in mobile search does not change search results, Google's Vice President of Search David Besbris said in a blog post.
It merely will make it easier for users to identify pages that are ready to "load lightning fast" on smartphones and tablets, he said.
Besbris claimed that the median time it takes for an AMP-enabled web page to load on a mobile device is less than 1 second. In other words, half of all AMP-enabled pages load in less than 1 second while half take longer. "AMP-lified" pages also tend to consume 10 times less data compared to non-AMP-enabled pages, he said.
Search result rankings for web pages and websites that are not AMP-enabled will remain unaffected by the change. Going forward though, that will change. Google has said that mobile-optimized pages and sites will receive preferential treatment in its search results over non-optimized pages. The company claims that some 600 million AMP web pages have already been created by large websites, including eBay, Shopify, Skyscanner, Reddit and WikiHow.
Meanwhile, in a separate but related announcement Google offered a list of things that webmasters should consider when enabling support for AMP.
For example, sites that use popular content management systems (CMSes) should have an easier time implementing AMP than sites built from scratch or sites that use a lot of custom HTML code.
Similarly, while AMP is good for static web content including news, product pages, blogs and listings, it does not work as well on pages containing a lot of interactive features like route mapping, the company noted.
Website owners would also do well to implement AMP in stages, starting with pages containing simple, static content before moving on to other more complex pages. Google's advice for those looking to build new, content-heavy websites from scratch is to implement AMP from the beginning instead of trying to bolt it on later.
"AMP search results on Google will be rolling out worldwide when it launches in the coming weeks," AMP Community Manager Tomo Taylor said in offering the advice on Google's Webmaster Central Blog.
AMP content is already available via Google's Top Stories carousel in mobile search results in a variety of countries. Expect more AMP content to become available worldwide in the coming weeks, Taylor said.