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.