Accelerated Mobile Pages provide mobile visitors coming to your website from searches with lightning-fast load times and a consistently good experience. While many if not most policy organizations and think tanks now have responsive, mobile-ready websites, the actual experience of loading and interacting with them on mobile devices can be a slow and frustrating experience. That leads to high bounce rates and lackluster interaction.

The basic problem is this: browsers rendering modern webpages have to deal with with numerous stylesheets, loads of JavaScript, web fonts, and images—all the stuff that makes your webpage rich, beautiful, and great. That’s not such a big deal on a desktop or laptop, where good Wi-Fi and loads of computing power make quick work of it all. On mobile, no matter how great websites may look, the load times are often just too long and the browsing experience too clunky to satisfy our mobile surfing habits.

Some data on speed and bounce rates

A quick survey of the websites of the top five US think tanks shows that loading a blog post takes just over four seconds, as emulated at normal 4G speeds on a high-end device (average of three page loads each with caches disabled). Results in the real world could be a bit quicker or much slower, depending on your device and network connectivity.

Four seconds is not bad, but unfortunately it is longer than we want to wait on mobile. According to a study about mobile load times for an e-commerce site, bounce rates rose sharply after 2.7 seconds. After 2.7 seconds, each additional second accounted for roughly an eight percentage-point increase in the bounce rate.

See the difference

Accelerated Mobile Pages are essentially stricter versions of your regular pages. They disallow some of the more resource-intensive features and coding practices that can slow pages down, like synchronous JavaScript, external stylesheets, and images without explicitly defined heights and widths (which we leave undefined for good reason).

The Open Society Foundations are making use of AMP pages. To see the difference in load times, try out the following experiment on your smartphone (turn off Wi-Fi for the best demonstration).

  1. Open this regular post.
  2. Open the AMP version of the same post.

In most cases, the AMP page loads considerably faster than the non-AMP version. The difference will be smaller the faster your network is, and depends on what you have in your browser’s cache.

Accelerated Mobile Pages increase engagement

Big publishers were the first to enable AMP pages on their websites. Some have expressed concern over decreased ad revenue on their AMP pages, but overall the response has been positive. According to Google’s own case studies,

  • the Washington Post increased the number of returning users from mobile by 23 percent;
  • Wired experienced a 25 percent increase on the click-through rate of their search results; and,
  • Slate increased monthly unique visitors by 44 percent.

Organizations that aren’t seeking ad revenue from their blogs and webpages can reap the benefits without any of the potential risk. That means a faster mobile experience, better engagement, and more people reading—and sharing—your research and policy recommendations.

Accelerated Mobile Pages increase discoverability

Sixty percent of web searches are now from mobile device and more than half of web traffic is now mobile. Google, in response, is prioritizing speed and mobile-friendliness in its search results.

Accelerated Mobile Pages appear prominently in Google’s mobile news carousel in search results and the AMP lightning bolt indicates to mobile users that page is optimized for them. Posts that are pegged to or on the front edge of the news cycle are most likely to benefit from the AMP. I suspect, too, that your evergreen content that consistently sends relatively high volumes of search traffic to your site will benefit as well.

Accelerate Mobile Pages news carousel on Google
Google's news carousel feature AMP page on search result pages.
Accelerate Mobile Pages search results
AMP pages are marked with a lightning bolt icon.

What you can do

If your website is on Drupal or Wordpress, there are frameworks available to enable Accelerated Mobile Pages on some or all of your pages. These are not exactly plug-and-play solutions (meaning you need someone who knows what they’re doing) but they do bring AMP within reach for organizations without huge digital teams or budgets.

The mobile web is getting faster. Don’t be left behind.