Google users may have noticed a slight change to their search results today thanks to the introduction of the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project.
Mobile users will have started seeing search results that display a lightning symbol. This means they are specially designed lightweight pages designed to make for faster loading times for mobile users.
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AMP Project looks to optimize mobile web pages
Google apparently launched the AMP project today without any great fanfare. The launch date was originally thought to be February 24 but it appears that the company brought the project forward. It is part of efforts to help content publishers make faster-loading sites and stop mobile users having to wait around for pages to load.
The AMP Project can be likened to Facebook’s Instant Articles project. Publishers can use a particular specification to ensure that lightweight web pages load quickly, rather than loading desktop pages on mobile connections.
To load the lightweight pages, simply tap the lightning symbol next to the search result. As more content publishers adopt the AMP standard, these results will become increasingly ubiquitous. The project looks set to improve the browsing experience for mobile users.
News sites handing control to Google and Facebook
Ad blocking has become increasingly popular in recent years, and content has become slower to load. In order to keep users clicking, Facebook and Apple have been hosting content on behalf of the content publishers.
While it may seem odd to hand over control of content to tech giants, it is a new reality for content producers. News sites are struggling to monetize free content, and have been adding on ad trackers, media and third-party scripts.
Unfortunately this increases loading times, and users do not want to wait around. The Google AMP Project effectively uses a new framework called AMP HTML to build lightweight webapges, with the added benefit of working with existing Google caching infrastructure in order to decease load times.
Publishers are expected to analyze whether or not the decreased loading times can make up for the loss of advertising revenue that they will suffer. Should faster load times encourage visitors to stay on the site and visit more pages, it could still be beneficial.
It looks as though Google’s AMP project and Facebook’s Instant Articles will have a huge impact on the future of media and content, so watch this space.