Please remember when you read the posts on Blogable that we are learning too. In this article I will tell my story/experience with Accelerated Mobile Pages. Then, explain the technical bits.
In the case of this topic – Mobile Speed – Well, I have only investigated it recently and may not have ever gone down that rabbit hole if it wasn’t for a question Marie asked in passing.
Should you worry about mobile speed? Well google are saying they will prioritise pages that load fast on mobile devices. You decide…
AMP in a Nutshell
Google launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages open-source project to ensure that mobile webpages operate at optimal speed.
Marie asked if I knew much about Accelerated Mobile Pages as she was not sure if she needed the plugin or not. I replied that I had looked into AMP in 2018 when Jetpack gave you the option to use AMP to speed up the mobile version of your site. But they removed the option so I thought AMP was no longer relevant. But I was wrong.
The reason the AMP option was removed from Jetpack was two-fold. Many themes had actually become very mobile friendly and also plugins were available to help you make use of the AMP project.
Basically, by activating the AMP plugin your site will also have a second theme that has been approved by google for its mobile speed. By spending time to expand the project over the last few years google are telling us that AMP is very relevant in 2020.
So google are helping you out here.
Not every one needs AMP
I thought I would check to see if I needed AMP. And I was quite shocked at what I found when I looked at the speed of my site. I had been using the WordPress Twenty Fourteen theme for a few years up until about seven month ago. I liked the theme and it was fast-ish… My hosts were not great with server speed and I’m not great at optimising my images – but the theme itself did a reasonable job, speed wise.
However, I decided I needed to change my theme in April 2020 as a straight forward blog page was not really showcasing all the different areas my site has to offer. It took me ages and several changes to get to the one I have now. Knowing from Google Search Console that over half of my readers use their phones to access my site it was vital to see if my blog was mobile friendly and check it’s speed to load on desktop or mobile.
This is what I found.
Mobile Speed and Friendliness
For desktop my site was considered quite good – in the orange. Coming in at about 69 out of 100 for google speed insights. But – horrors – I found I wasn’t completely mobile friendly in that my front page was partially loading and even worse the mobile speed was showing at only 21/100! In the red zone.
This meant on a mobile screen my site was taking far too long to load and many users would get bored waiting and move on. What to do. I didn’t want to change my theme! It had taken ages to find just what I wanted. And the theme claimed to be mobile responsive. But obviously not quite responsive enough.
So I downloaded the AMP plugin and went to work. What I found made me smile.
Basically, by using AMP your site makes use of two themes. My old theme – that I had kept for 2 years – was one of the AMP options for me to customise when implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages. In a way I looked at it as a win, win situation. I could keep my magazine style desktop theme but for mobile users I could implement my long-term lover – twenty fourteen.
I found it quite easy to do. And suddenly my site was considered completely mobile friendly and the speed had gone up to between 61 & 68.
I am still down the AMP rabbit hole and tweaking it to work for my site. I need to check out object caching but google are using my amp pages successfully on a mobile.
On to the Tech Stuff – Speed and friendliness
Make sure you carry out site checks in a private browser so that there is nothing in the browser cache.
The google mobile friendly test can be found here. I would bookmark it.
If it clearly states your page is not mobile friendly then you need to research why that is.
A minor error is the page is not loading completely on mobiles. Although your site is still said to be friendly you are warned it may take the reader more time to load all of the page. See below.
If your page does not load completely it will say
page loading issues
and show an orange triangle in the left corner. See image above.
You can click through to information which tells you why the page partially loaded and what you can investigate to change that.
This is what it looks like if google think you are friendly 😉 – No loading issues, is what you are hoping for.
The google page speed analyser is the only free speed checker to analyse both mobile access as well as desktop. It does this in one hit. You just need to toggle between Mobile and Desktop tab in the left corner. I advice you to run it a few times to get your score. Something to do with how the lighthouse ap works.
Here are my scores – mobile followed by desktop.
NB: If you find you are getting 50 or above in the speed test for your mobile and desktop but on the friendliness you have the partially loading error I would not worry with AMP. But if you have low speed scores AND your site is not mobile friendly or has the loading error, AMP may be something to consider.
This is the AMP plugin I would recommend.
Go to plugins in your WP admin and search for it. Download then activate. Go to settings and you will then see something like this.
Open the wizard and it will take you through the options. It asks how techie you are along the way ;-). Basically there are three main ways to configure. After research I choose the reader template.
Choosing a theme for AMP is personal and you can try a few out – going back to see if you like another one better. Remember if you hate AMP after having a play you can simply delete it. I must say when I saw they are all the wordpress made Twenty Something themes I suddenly understood why they are so widely used and promoted.
If you open up the plugin suppression arrow you will be told if any of your other plugins will cause a problem with AMP.
And that’s about it.
More to say…
Once implemented you have two URL’s but google deals with all of that. The second has /?amp on the end. Check it on your mobile or desktop. Over time google adds you to their project and begins crawling your amp pages. And they are very fast. Remember that when a user comes to your site they normally are entering via a post not your front page. So the speed that a single page loads at is important to them.
Apparently, AMP can be good for your SEO.
When you want to tweak your themes go to the themes tab rather than customise and you will see there are two active…
Downside to AMP?
I have to say for me it has worked well. I can see in my google console that the amp pages are being picked up by google and I am getting more views per person. The average reader is staying longer on my site. Also I actually like both themes.
But will it be good for you?
- I would say, if your site comes out in the green for being mobile friendly without an orange triangle warning you of loading issues, then don’t worry about amp.
- If your site comes out as partially loading in the mobile friendly test – showing the small orange triangle, then check the speed of your site.
- The speed should show a number in the orange or green. If it shows your site is in the red – below 50 – where the mobile tab is concerned – then maybe AMP should be considered.
- But, if you find you are getting 50 or above in the speed test for your mobile but have a partially loading error in the mobile friendly test I wouldn’t worry with AMP. (Just see if you can find out why there is a slight loading error.)
The annoyance for some will be the two themes. Also the analytics may not show up for the amp pages. I am looking into that. If you are crazy about google analytics then AMP might not be for you. Although, I expect google will work on this aspect of their project.
The most important thing is to create great content. But if you are doing that on a regular basis you want readers with mobiles to enjoy coming to your site and AMP may help them to have a better experience.
Of course there is something we could all be over looking here. Why not use one of the Twenty Something themes for your desktop site, like I did originally with Twenty Fourteen. If you keep it simple it will also be fast on mobile. Or, search for one you love that works for your desktop and mobile without the need for amp. Marie has done just that. Those themes are out there and I expect will become more prevalent as time goes on. And that way you only have one theme to deal with and it will be speedy without needing to implement AMP.
For now I will stay with AMP. But, I just moved hosts and have a site optimiser to try out when I can find the time. Perhaps that will replace the need for AMP.