Should local publishers use Google AMP?If you are a publisher, you are likely talking and reading a lot about Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles. You will find articles covering the range of opinions, from these are the greatest thing to hit publishing since the printing press, to they are the beginning of the end of publishers. Of course, the key question is “should you use Google AMP?”

I found this writeup to be an excellent overview of Google Amp and encourage all publishers to read through it. It covers all the basics: what is AMP, how does it work, how do you set it up on your own site – as well as obvious follow up questions: will AMP influence my SEO? Is AMP really that much faster?

The article doesn’t specify whether you should or should not use AMP – it simply gives the background of what it is and how it works. The great news is that you can set up AMP very quickly if you are running a WordPress site (which most hyperlocal publishers are) and test it out. We have started playing with AMP briefly, and our initial thoughts are that you should try AMP. Why?

    1. Your pages load too slowly on mobile – This is almost guaranteed. Between the ads you are running on every page, to your hosting provider, to the large amounts of javascript you load, your sites load too slowly. Page load is actually a fairly large ranking factor for SEO as well. Just because you have a responsive website doesn’t mean your site will run well on mobile, it just means it should be a better user experience on mobile. And it’s likely that you aren’t doing anything specifically to optimize for mobile today, right?
    2. Google wants you toThis is actually a reason to try it as well as not to try it! It’s clear that Google wants to have more content at their disposal, and if you are using AMP they get a first-row seat to your content. At the same time, they are going to heavily promote it, and while Google is claiming that AMP pages will not impact SEO, I wouldn’t believe that for a second. Keep in mind that Google always wants to deliver the best answer to a user’s search query. And if your page is going to take more than three seconds to load, it’s highly likely that user will not stick around.
    3. Your readers are on mobile – It’s likely that nearly 70% of your readers are on mobile devices. And going back to #1, if you aren’t doing anything to optimize the mobile experience specifically, this is a pretty easy way to try something new.

We always warn publishers to make sure they have their own platform. Renting instead of owning is almost never a path to long term sustained success, and it’s guaranteed to be a path where you will have to compromise, since you aren’t in control of the platform. It’s this main reason that we aren’t wildly bullish about AMP, but it does appear for now that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

If you are using AMP and have seen solid results (either good or bad), please share your experiences in the comments.