Last fall, Google announced AMP — the Accelerated Mobile Pages project — in an effort to nudge content publishers to design mobile websites that load as quickly as possible. Now that a number of publishers have sped up their mobile sites, Google has begun tagging some search results that lead to faster pages.
The company announced this morning that when an AMPed-up page shows up among the Top Stories in a Google search, it will be badged with “AMP” and a little lightning bolt logo, indicating that it should load much faster for the user than other pages.
“Any story you choose to read will load blazingly fast,” claims Google, “and it’s easy to scroll through the article without it taking forever to load or jumping all around as you read. It’s also easy to quickly flip through the search results just by swiping from one full-page AMP story to the next.”
According to Google, pages built using AMP use only a fraction of the data and load an average of four times faster than equivalent non-AMP pages.
As more consumers switch their news reading habits to mobile, slow load times and data-heavy pages have become a growing problem. Google says that most mobile users will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load, meaning you could have the most interesting content in the world, but if it takes too long to show up on a reader’s phone, it’s not getting read.
The most frequent cause of slow load times on mobile pages is advertising. These units often come in from multiple third party ad networks at the same time, all trying to figure out who they are reaching and serving up the most appropriate ad.
An increasing number of consumers have turned to ad-blocking technology, resulting in annual losses of billions of dollars for online publishers. If AMP — or similar programs, like Facebook’s Instant Articles — can improve load times, the hope is that people won’t be rushing to find a decent ad-blocker for their phone’s browser.