What Happened To My Google Rankings? The Answer is AMP Mobile Sites PLUS Google Rolled Out the Mobile Index Update

Did you just Google your core business keyphrases this morning and are thinking, “What Happened To My Google Rankings?” The answer is a combination of the creation of AMP Mobile Sites PLUS Google’s Mobile Search Index just rolled out.

As I write this blog post I’m thinking of the millions of business owners whose rankings will drop as a result of this update. The very same business owners who were told, at one time or another over the past 7 years, they should re-create their business website on WordPress. All of the data they were presented with made sense; the updating technology, ease of use, compatibility with other platforms, mobile responsiveness, that it was built using open source (as they thought to themselves…Whatever that Means!@#\!) and so on.

The challenge is now WordPress does not have a plugin or core update to easily create an AMP site from an existing WordPress site. This difficulty to convert “pages and archives” to the new AMP criteria (cited on WordPress here). This leaves millions of businesses on the WordPress platform at risk of losing their hard-earned Google rankings.

If you are reading this blog then Google just fully released AMP preferential treatment and has switched over to their mobile-first index. Here is a background on all the facts:

1. The story starts to make sense when Google first stated that AMP results will go ahead of non-AMP pages on mobile (cited in Wired here).
2. It was first thought that Google would run two separate indexes, desktop, and mobile (cited in Search Engine Land here).
3. On September 27th AMP results started showing on desktop. The news about their being 2 separate indexes didn’t seem to make sense since Google was showing AMP results on desktop. It made sense that this was a test for the big update to come, one index with mobile-first results (cited in Search Engine Land here).
4. Just this past Friday, November 4th,  it was confirmed when Google announced there will be one index, with mobile criteria leading the ranking criteria (cited in Mashable here).

Learning and watching large players in an industry is important to learn how trends will move. When eBay announced it was AMPing their entire mobile site anyone not paying attention was doomed to be left behind. eBay first figured out the importance of AMP and then announced its intention to AMP their site on July 4th of 2016 (cited in Search Engine Land here). AMP was first announced for news outlets and posts on WordPress but the initiative by eBay made it clear that this was going to be a technology suitable and preferred across all types of businesses and industries. The first reported AMP use on eBay was mid-October and still being tweaked at the date of this article showing the challenges of even the best development teams with the faster but newer AMP code.

On the WordPress platform it is also challenging and we ran into many obstacles using recommended plugins. The way we AMPed our own site is we created a separate AMP website and forwarded amp.optfirst.com and then configured the required forwarding, viewing and tagging. Creating a separate site that is AMP validated is an intense but worthwhile process. It can lead to a mobile version 4X faster of any mobile or responsive website.

To check if a website is AMP’ed or has an AMP version you can install the verified AMP Validator available here.

To learn about all the benefits of Accelerated Mobile Page, code elements and requirements you can view the Official AMP project site here.

5 Reasons We’re So Amped About AMP

As we all know, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are kinda huge deal for anyone that has a website that people view on a mobile device, i.e. everyone. The AMP framework basically strips away many of the unnecessary web page elements that slows down the mobile experience making it much faster for users. For anyone that hasn’t heard about the roll-out of this user-friendly mobile experience, here are the top reasons why we’re so excited about AMP.

1) It’s super fast – about 15% to 85% faster on mobile. Since it strips down the code to only the essentials, it’s able to showcase websites much more quickly. This is a huge win for anyone that has short attention span.

2) Google is a big fan – Google historically favors websites that optimize user experiences – especially for mobile – which is great for search engine optimization (SEO) rankings.

3) They’re noticeable – AMP sites have a small gray lightning bolt so people will know that your website is the one to click on and bypass your competitors.

4) Will help you get and keep visitors on your page – when over 50% of people are using mobile to search for products/services, it’s best to have the most mobile optimized site and since bounce rates can be as high as 58% for websites that take up to ten seconds to load – you’re bound to get more page views.

5) Last but certainly not least – while Google doesn’t explicitly say that it’ll reward AMP websites with higher rankings, when you look at the other advantages, i.e. fast speeds and optimized user experience, it’s easy to see how being an early adopter will be beneficial for not only mobile, but overall organic rankings.

With all these benefits to AMP-ing up a website, it’s no wonder we’re getting tons of requests from our clients to AMP up their current website!!