Does AMP Affect SEO and Is It a Ranking Factor?
Google’s AMP project saw massive take-up on the promise of more visibility in the SERPS via special carousels and other SERP features. For many, the implementation was haphazard, and conversion rates dropped.
It is important to implement it fully and correctly. It has been speculated many times that Google uses AMP as a ranking factor, but Google has confirmed specifically, that this is not the case.
Will AMP improve your Google rankings?
We took an in-depth look at what the Googlers \ Experts had to say:
AMP isn’t a ranking factor.
In response to a question about disabling AMP affecting SEO rankings, Mueller categorically said:
AMP isn’t a ranking factor.
John Mueller comfirmed in a Tweet on Jan 24, 2017, that AMP is not a ranking factor:
AMP isn't a ranking factor; if you decide to disable it, make sure to redirect appropriately.— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) January 25, 2017
The point Mueller makes about redirects, is that if you disable AMP pages on your site you should remove the AMP canonical URL from the head of your page.
AMP pages are only used for site quality score & Panda if you use AMP as the primary mobile version.
In an English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout Mueller clarified whether Google will use the AMP page for quality score purposes:
If it’s the one that we actually index, then yes we will use that when determining the quality of the site when looking at things overall.
Essentially, if your AMP page is your canonical mobile page, then your AMP pages would be considered for quality score. A standard AMP implementation (i.e. AMP is in addition to your mobile version \ responsive site) would not be.
Google wants your AMP pages to have equivalent content and features to your main version.
In an Office-hours hangout, John Mueller confirmed that AMP is not a ranking signal, but if you make AMP your mobile version then that will satisfy the mobile-friendly test, and be treated like a normal page for site quality \ Panda purposes.
Another useful piece of information gained from the video, is that the AMP team wants your AMP page to be as feature rich as the main content. In other words, they don’t want a trimmed down version:
One thing I also ask here is if you’re using AMP as a separate page for your site and then I try to make sure that as much as possible that the AMP version is actually equivalent to your main version.
So avoid the situation where the AMP is kind of a trim down version of your page that doesn’t have videos, it doesn’t have the full content, because that’s a terrible user experience. And I know the AMP team really doesn’t like it when people serve low quality AMP instead of normal pages. So if you have that content then make that content shine on a AMP page.
You can view the full discussion below:
AMP itself is not something that we have a ranking signal at the moment.
In an Office-hours hangout, John Mueller confirmed that it is not a ranking signal, but if you make AMP your mobile version then that will satisfy the mobile-friendly test:”
At the moment, it is not a ranking signal. […] It is obviously one way to make mobile friendly pages, so that might be an option where you do that.
In February 2016, John Mueller confirmed in a hangout that AMP is not a ranking signal.
John Mueller, webmaster trends analyst at Google, confirmed in February 2016 that it is not a ranking factor for SEO during a Google Hangout:
At the moment, it is not a ranking signal.
It is obviously one way to make mobile friendly pages, so that might be an option where you do that. I’ve already seen some websites where they’ve moved the whole website to the AMP format. Obviously, that is mobile friendly setup, so it kind of picks up the mobile friendly thing.
But just AMP itself is not something that we have a ranking signal at the moment.
You can view the relevant conversation below at 15:50 minutes:
Before AMP’s launch, Google indicated that it might get a ranking boost.
Google confirmed that AMP pages may get a ranking boost and perhaps a ‘fast’ label designation. Both points were said to be speculative.
This has not been implemented as at May 2017, but does indicate that they may consider it in the future.
While John Mueller’s comment appears to be the latest comment on whether it is an SEO ranking factor, it does not tell the whole story. Back in December 2015, during a special news event covering the announcement a couple of useful pieces of information came out:
- They may get a ranking boost
- They may get a “fast” label designation
- As you have seen from the mobile screenshots earlier in the article, we already have the “fast” label designation. Clearly, giving AMP pages a ranking boost is also on their mind.
Frequently Asked Questions
AMP pages are a version of your page that is highly optimized for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The pages are subject to strict coding standards that are purely optimized for speed.
By implementing AMP successfully, there are several benefits:
- It will show in the SERPs with a lightning icon.
- It may show in special carousels designed to highlight news content, potentially providing increased traffic to your website.
- Google will cache your AMP version around the world on its servers making it extremely fast no matter where your reader is located.
You can read more about how they work here.
While there are no direct SEO benefits (at the moment) there numerous benefits for publishers:
- Greater Visibility — According to the Google SEO Starter Guide creating descriptive categories and pages could “lead to better crawling of your documents by search engines.” With fresh content giving a temporary ranking boost, it can be beneficial to have your website crawled more frequently so any changes can be picked up.
- Mobile-friendliness — Google suggests that you should not replace your mobile version of your website with Accelerated Mobile Pages (i.e. it should be in addition). That being said, having an AMP page would allow you to pass the mobile-friendliness test which does confer ranking benefits in the mobile SERPs.
- Faster Loading provides a better visitor retention rate — According to Kissmetrics, 40 percent of web users will abandon the page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, with 47 percent of users expecting a page to load in under 2 seconds. Furthermore, a 1-second delay can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversions.