Last week we touched on the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) in our post looking at how Google’s mobile update has affected search visibility for some of the biggest brands around. This week we want to look at AMP in little more detail and ask the question webmasters really want to know: will it make your website faster?

Sure, we’d all love to think of AMP as a magic formula that turns the mobile web into a lightening fast platform and solves all our UX lows. Spoiler alert: it isn’t. But what will be the impact of AMP on the web and, more importantly, will it actually make your website any faster?


What is the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project


That cheesy promo video certainly makes AMP sound like the magic formula we’ve all been waiting for. Essentially it comes down to mobile pages taking way too long to load and that’s hurting bounce rates, engagement metrics and all kinds of other web essentials.

AMP is a Google-backed project that limits the use of HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create incredibly light pages. How fast? Well, John Parise over at Pinterest says AMP pages will load roughly four times faster and use eight times less data. That sounds great. But we’re not quite buying that.


The AMP small print webmasters need to know

Here’s the plot-twist ladies and gents: AMP is nothing new whatsoever in terms of the technology being used. Google says this itself in the post we linked to above:


“The project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight webpages.”


You can make your web pages just as fast as AMP by developing them in the same lightweight fashion. AMP does, however, provide a handy template to build pages in what its calling AMP HTML.

So what does this mean for site speeds? Well, the chances are your website is overloaded with bulky code, heavy resources and all kinds of other stuff that bring mobile loading times to a halt. In which case AMP certainly will make your pages faster – at least the ones you build in AMP HTML.

However, if you pride yourself on building sites for mobile and your loading times are impeccably fast then the gains are questionable. There’s a darker side to all this AMP business though.


What is the AMP really all about?

Google has invested everything it has into the mobile web and its advertising potential – more than enough incentive to drive AMP. There’s a lot more at play here than simple load times, though, and Google has a lot to gain from publishers signing up to AMP. Let’s just reiterate the point for a moment: you can build web pages just as fast as AMP by following the necessary coding procedure. But that’s not what Google wants.

Instead, it wants you to sign up to AMP and hand over your content to Google’s own servers. Why? Because this keeps users locked into the Google platform. This is what makes AMP very similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles and we’re moving closer to a web where the same few names keep users locking to their platforms.

Then you have the small matter of search ranking to consider. Google has already hinted there could be a ranking boost for AMP pages. We won’t know anytime soon how true this is, but you know when Google hints at ranking boost publishers will sign up. And if there is a genuine ranking boost for AMP pages, that’s where things will start to get really uncomfortable. Effectively, Google will be saying sign up to AMP or slip down the rankings, under the guise of user experience. So where will pages end up that are developed to be lightening fast outside of the AMP confines?


So, yes, AMP probably will probably make your pages faster if you get signed up and set up correctly. But it’s another case of users locking webmasters into their services for something we should already be doing (and can) without it.

Having a framework like AMP to work with will be incredibly handy and the fact we’re all talking about a faster mobile web is definitely a good thing. The concern is what we’re not talking about, though; the latest in a series of steps Google (and a select few other names) are taking to box users into a closed web.