Study: Websites with fast-loading AMP format get better search rankings
Publishers that adopt Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are ranking at the top of Google searches, according to a study by researcher Searchmetrics made available to Mobile Marketer. This suggests that those that do not enable AMPs stand to lose out on future web traffic and advertising revenue, Searchmetrics said. About 78% of news-related results that appear on the first page of mobile screens are AMP-enabled, its study found.
Pages that appear in the top 20 desktop results on Google for media and news-related searches have an average of 30.7 links to content on other sites. This average is more than the mean rate of external links found among all industries Searchmetrics analyzed.
The research analyzed desktop search results on the Google.com website for 6,000 keyword terms relevant to the media industry, such as "Kim Kardashian," "science news," "net neutrality" and "weather NYC." The findings were compared with results from 10,000 popular keywords that apply across all industries.
The study by Searchmetrics offers interesting and potentially concerning insights for publishers that are trying to boost their search ranking through SEO methods. Accelerated Mobile Pages, a project backed by Google, are designed to improve mobile download speeds and basically provide a stripped-down form of HTML that a smartphone can process quickly. Publishers increasingly need to incorporate the faster-loading pages in their websites in order to get better search rankings — not only for mobile devices but also for searches on a desktop computer.
These findings underscore the immense — and oft-criticized — amount of influence Google wields in driving traffic to websites and controlling the online media space. Publishers that don't adopt AMPs are not getting the same boosts to their visibility as those that do are, which might ramp up the pressure to convert. That this trend extends beyond mobile, where AMPs are focused, and onto desktop is interesting. Google doesn't disclose the inner workings of its search-engine algorithms, leaving marketers and content providers to divine the best ways to improve their search results.
Searchmetrics said content creators should understand that their search rankings are unlikely to suffer because of links to other sites. If anything, the links should add to the user experience by directing readers to credible related content or to reference sources, the company said. Web pages with more text tend to also have higher rankings. Pages from online media sites that Google shows in its top 10 desktop search results have 16% more text, or about 260 additional words, on average than results in the researcher's wider benchmark study. But that extra text should be relevant to readers, not just filler.