Using AMP for WordPress: A Beginner’s Guide

By 2015, mobile web traffic outpaced traditional desktop use for the first time. Now, more than half of all web traffic worldwide originates from a mobile device – and of those users, 57 percent say they won’t use or recommend a business whose website is not optimized for mobile. Making sure your WordPress website is mobile friendly is essential in today’s highly mobile digital world, and that means ensuring that a page’s load time is fast and is easy to read on small screens.

That’s the goal of Google’s new Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP – an open source initiative to make websites of all kinds more accessible on smartphones and tablets. Google AMP is available as a free plugin for WordPress websites, and it can be easily installed and customized to boost your brand’s visibility across mobile platforms of all kinds.

How Does AMP Work?

Websites can be slow to load on mobile devices because of the many elements they contain, based on different programming languages and protocols. For the same reason, websites may not appear correctly when viewed on a mobile device. This creates a less than optimal user experience that can drive users away, never to return. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of users in a recent survey about mobile buying habits said that if they had a poor mobile experience with a particular brand, they would never buy from that company again. Google AMP is a technology that aims to prevent that scenario.

As the name suggests, AMP “accelerates” the accessibility of web pages on mobile devices by placing a stripped down version of the page with minimal HTML and Javascript in Google’s AMP cache. The cached page is then served to mobile users instead of the full web page, which makes for faster loading and gets essential content in front of them immediately.

Along with Google, the Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative is backed by numerous web innovators such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit. Because it is open source and freely available to everyone, AMP is designed to work on all applications, browsers, and web viewers. WordPress users can install AMP in minutes from the WordPress plugin directory and customize it through the settings on the site’s Admin dashboard.

Google encourages the use of AMP by rewarding AMP optimized pages. Using the AMP plugin for WordPress can boost a site’s ranking in mobile search results, and AMP optimized content can improve a site’s visibility and attract more traffic. But AMP does have some drawbacks.

Because AMP uses minimal code for quick loading, it can’t include all the elements on a fully functioning webpage, such as certain widgets or embedded content. This means that a webpage viewed with AMP doesn’t look exactly the same as how the original page would appear on a desktop or laptop, and users don’t have access to the full range of features available on the original page. This can lead to a negative user experience too, especially for viewers who are using the site for conducting transactions like online shopping.

AMP allows for some customization of the way a site will appear in mobile viewing, but options are limited due to AMP’s stripped down functioning. WordPress users can work around this problem with a few other plugins, but it can be difficult to give mobile visitors the full viewing experience of a carefully crafted webpage. Another problem for some users is that AMP currently supports only Google Analytics. Users of other analytics tools won’t be able to easily get a clear picture of how their site’s AMP optimized pages are performing on mobile.

Using AMP for WordPress

AMP is easy to install and use on your WordPress site, but it can be harder to uninstall if you decide it’s not for you. After deactivating and uninstalling AMP, switching back to non-AMP optimized posts requires setting up 301 redirects back to the original posts. Still, if your site receives a considerable amount of mobile traffic, or if you’re hoping to boost its Google rankings and visibility on mobile, installing and implementing AMP for WordPress pages can be a smart move. Here’s how to add AMP to your WordPress website.

Install the AMP Plugin

The AMP plugin is available for free through the WordPress plugin directory. To install this free WordPress plugin on your site, open the plugins tab from your WordPress site admin dashboard. Click ‘Add New’ and search for the AMP plugin. Click ‘Install’ and then activate the plugin. AMP now appears in your site’s Appearance tab, and you can begin customizing its settings.

Customize Settings

Google AMP comes with basic options for customizing the way your site will display on mobile screens. Choose from a series of AMP WordPress theme templates, or change the heading and display colors from the available customization options. As you edit, AMP displays the page as it will appear on mobile devices. Any page that is mobile optimized with AMP will have /amp/ added to its permalink. AMP also includes a set of Advanced Setting options that allows for customizing the behavior of mobile-optimized pages, including an option to select specific pages you want to designate as mobile-ready.

Customize Further with The Yoast Plugin

AMP itself doesn’t offer many ways to customize your site’s mobile display, but many WordPress users have discovered that it is possible to make more changes to an AMP display with a combination of two other plugins: the popular SEO Yoast plugin and a related one called Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP. Both are free from the WordPress plugin directory.

Yoast is a robust SEO plugin for optimizing every post and page for search with keywords, metadata, and more. Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP integrates Yoast SEO functions into all your site’s AMP pages, which helps to ensure that metadata will display correctly on mobile devices. As a bonus, Glue Yoast AMP also allows users to add more customization to AMP-optimized pages so that they more closely match the styling of the site’s full display.

To access these options, install the Yoast SEO plugin, if your site isn’t already using it. Then, install the Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP  plugin. From the site dashboard, select SEO > AMP from the Settings tab and follow the prompts to change the page’s colors, link styles, and more.

Mobile devices account for more than half of all online transactions in the world, and your site needs to have a fast load time and is visually appealing to keep these users coming back.  Free and easy to install, AMP works on any platform to make your WordPress site accessible with increased speed for users on the go using a mobile device.

2 thoughts on “Using AMP for WordPress: A Beginner’s Guide

  1. So, if you aren’t selling anything, say for instance on my site it is a blog about the stories behind my images and photo galleries, would AMP even be needed? It doesn’t sound like it to me.

    1. Greetings Mia,

      AMP “accelerates” the accessibility of web pages on mobile devices by placing a stripped down version of the page with minimal HTML and Javascript in Google’s AMP cache. It’s not required for your site, but can boost your site’s visibility on mobile platforms. We encourage using whatever plugins work best for your overall site, have a great day!

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