Starting this week, people searching for news stories on Google’s mobile search engine will see some stories loading a lot faster than others as publishers start pushing out pages based on the company’s Accelerated Mobile Pages framework.
Web pages created using Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, will appear under the “Top Stories” section of the search results page and will load up to four times faster on mobile devices than regular pages while using 10 times less data, Google said Feb. 24.
In many cases, AMP will load instantly. The pages will let users scroll through articles quickly and flip through search results by swiping from one AMP page to the next, Google Vice President of Engineering David Besbris wrote on the company’s official blog.
“Any story you choose to read will load blazingly fast—and it’s easy to scroll through the article without it taking forever to load or jumping all around as you read,” Besbris claimed.
Google introduced AMP last October as an open-source initiative designed to give publishers and content distributors a way to build lightweight Web pages for mobile devices. The goal is to enable faster uploads to mobile devices of pages featuring rich content, such as images, video, data visualizations, maps and social media plug-ins.
Currently, such pages can take very long to load and mobile users have little patience when that happens, Besbris said. In fact, studies have shown that the average mobile user gives Web pages just three seconds to load before abandoning them, he said.
Google has previously noted that the trend hurts publishers because it deprives them of an opportunity to derive ad revenues. Slow loading mobile Web pages hurt Google, as well, because the more pages that users abandon, the less revenue the company makes from mobile ads.
Since announcing AMP last October, Google has been working with hundreds of content publishers, technology companies and online advertising firms to get them to build Web pages using AMP HTML. When it launched the effort, Google said that nearly 30 publishers and several major technology companies, including WordPress, Pinterest and Twitter, had expressed interest in integrating AMP HTML pages. It’s not clear how many of those companies have gone live with the technology this week.
Google has said that the use of AMP is purely voluntary, but it has also said it will give AMP pages a higher ranking in mobile search engine results than pages that don’t feature the technology. That essentially means publishers will have to implement the format sooner or later if they want their content to appear prominently in Google’s mobile search results.
AMP is Google’s answer to Facebook’s Instant Articles, which launched last May. Like AMP, Instant Articles is designed to give Web publishers a way to design pages that load a lot faster on mobile devices than standard pages. Facebook claims that pages built using the Instant Articles format load up to 10 times faster on the Facebook app than regular pages.