Audience Development Strategy

How to Make Accelerated Mobile Pages For Better SEO

As more users go mobile, these tips for making accelerated mobile pages will keep your posts at the top of search results

Page speed is at the top of everyone’s minds right now. In April of 2015, Google told publishers that mobile-friendliness would be considered a ranking signal. They even offered up a mobile-friendly guide and a mobile-friendly test tool.  At the time, they told people that this change wouldn’t affect desktop searches, but recent news points to mobile-results becoming more and more prevalent on desktops.

In an interview Search Engine Land conducted with Gary Illyes of Google, he said that there are two areas we as publishers can work on in 2017: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and structured data. While many publishers have begun to roll out AMP-friendly pages,which are quite literally stripped down, mostly unbranded pages much like RSS feed pages, that load content immediately.  Other companies like Facebook have rolled out Instant Articles and media companies like Bloomberg have rolled out Javelin, which is said to cut load times by 30-50%. “The mobile web needs to run faster,” said Bloomberg Media’s global head of digital Scott Havens.

Digiday reports that “the drive for speed is mounting as people are doing more of their reading on smartphones (especially on Facebook’s app, which is built for speed), where they have less patience for slow-loading pages. Publishers also are sensitive to the reality that readers are increasingly using ad blocking software because ads are often at the root of slow-loading pages. The Washington Post, Vox Media and GQ are just a few publishers that have significantly cut page load time.”

How to make accelerated mobile pages and improve load time

Accelerated mobile pages are, luckily, very fairly to implement. (Mequoda clients, talk to your Chief Strategy Advisor if you haven’t already.) There are WordPress plugins, and Google gives plenty of information on how to become compliant (and get a nifty little AMP badge next to your content in search results).

Their steps for making your content AMP compatible includes reading about AMP goals and how it will improve the mobile experience. Then,  create a sample AMP page.

Next, implement it on your site. Google says, “After you launch your AMP pages, Google crawlers will identify them and attempt to surface them in the search results. There is no need to add the AMP pages to your sitemaps, Google will automatically follow the rel=amphtml link on the canonical page.”

Next, Google wants you to implement Article structured data and add article markup so AMP pages show up with Google Search AMP-related features.

Finally, verify your pages are AMP-friendly.

This is one area where Google gives us all the tools we need to make them happy. Ignoring them seems like a pretty bad ideal.

As for the rest of your site, AMP pages aren’t your only solution. Try a few of these tips for fixing slow-loading webpages:

1. Eliminate as many non-essential images as you can and optimize all images that remain on the page.

2. Load images with web-friendly resolutions, not print-friendly resolutions.

3. Use system typography instead of images for navigation. Use CSS instead of a reverse image to create a rollover effect.

4. Fewer lines of code always load faster. Try to reduce the overall size of the initial HTML page.

5. The popularity of tables has decreased due to responsive design, but if you are using them, especially nested tables, some browsers have trouble loading them efficiently.

6. Use a clean, efficient stylesheet to reduce the redundant definitions of font, size, color, effects and other attributes of objects. Reference images in the stylesheets. Use short style names. Reduce render blocking scripts in above-the-fold content.

7. Minimize JQuery & JavaScript code. It must be loaded, interpreted and executed on the user’s computer, which robs speed and memory from their system.

8. Whenever possible, use a server side language like PHP or a server side language that resolves to HTML rather than JQuery or JavaScript because a browser can process HTML 10x faster than it can JavaScript.

9. Use “valid” HTML or XHTML to enable the browser to process the code more efficiently. Use WC3′s Markup Validation Service to diagnose any errors in your code.

10. Minimize interactions with the database. Try to resolve all database calls and simply display the data in HTML on the page. If you must interact with the database, select only on indexed fields.

11. Use a CDN or Content Delivery Network like AkamaiMaxCDN, which will allow you to load images and other files offsite from different servers. You can get even more features from CloudFlare.

12. Use a script that inquires which device is in use, before choosing which content to execute

And if you’re on WordPress, you can also install a caching plugin like W3 Cache which will speed up your site by caching information on the user’s computer so that it doesn’t need to keep re-loading the same information every time they visit the site or a new page.

Do you have more suggestions for reducing page load time? Leave a comment below.

By Amanda MacArthur

Research Director & Managing Editor

Amanda is responsible for all the articles you read on the Mequoda Daily portal and every email newsletter delivered to your inbox from us. She is also our in-house social media expert and would love to chat with you over on @Mequoda. She has worked with Mequoda for almost a decade, helping to evolve the Mequoda Method through research, testing and developing new best practices in digital publishing, editorial strategy, email marketing and audience development. Amanda is a co-author of our four digital publishing handbooks.

Co-authored handbooks:

Contact Amanda:

Contact Amanda via email at amanda (at) mequoda (dot) com, @amaaanda, LinkedIn, and Google+.

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