We’re going to show you exactly how to get up and running with AMP for WordPress in this guide. First though let’s get some context.
More than half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Mobile is key – especially if you’re a content driven business. We’re all about mobile here at MobiLoud, helping customers to boost mobile UX and engagement through our native app and PWA platforms.
We talk about the benefits of apps all the time, but today we’re going to talk about something slightly different – the potential of AMP and how it can help you up your mobile game.
AMP can help you to really jack up mobile loading times, and even rank higher in the search results. Let’s look at it in more detail, before moving on to AMP for WordPress specifically.
Did you know you can convert your WordPress site to native mobile apps? It’s the fastest and most affordable way to build a mobile app. At MobiLoud we built three solutions just for WordPress – News for blogs and news sites, Commerce for WooCommerce sites and Canvas. With Canvas, you can convert any WordPress site into native mobile apps. All your plugins and custom code work out of the box and you can use your own theme for the app. Get a free a demo to learn which of our platforms is a best fit for your site.
What is AMP?
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. After being announced in 2015, backed by Google, WordPress and other big names – AMP is a framework that puts your website on a diet by stripping down pages to the bare HTML so they load faster on mobile.
The goal was to create:
““An open-source HTML framework that provides a straightforward way to create webpages that are fast, smooth-loading and prioritize the user experience above all else”
Aimed at content driven sites like popular blogs and publisher sites, AMP is essentially Google’s way of competing with Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. It was a sign of the times back in 2015, when mobile was truly taking over and users were becoming less and less tolerant of sluggish loading times.
Since then, AMP has become an important part of the web. It’s pretty easy to set up with AMP plugins too. But how does it work, and what are the benefits? Let’s find out.
How Does AMP Work?
AMP essentially creates stripped down HTML duplicates of existing web content.
Pages that are “converted” to AMP go through a three-step makeover:
- HTML – AMP creates a lean, unique markup of traditional HTML code
- CDN – caches pages and adapts them to AMP immediately
AMP will also cut down on CSS requests, and ditches a lot of bulky images, backend code and often CTAs.
The AMP pages will not replace the existing canonical version of the page. Readers will have full access to both versions.
What are the Benefits of AMP?
AMP is fundamentally a user experience upgrade. People are super impatient these days – just an extra second in load time has a significant impact on engagement metrics.
Google is very invested in promoting AMP. They have a load of case studies showcasing success stories. These are worth checking out, but bear in mind that Google is hardly an unbiased party.
On The Keyword blog, Google Product Manager Rudy Galfi talks about the sorry state that the mobile web was in during 2015 – with average load times for mobile sites standing at a whopping 19 seconds over 3G connections. A shared standard was needed for publishers to improve.
“We strongly believe AMP has played a positive role in reversing the trends that made it so difficult for publishers to achieve great user experiences at the time”
In concrete terms, AMP can potentially help you to:
- Reduce bounce rate – the relationship between bounce rate and loading time is clear. Make your pages significantly faster, less users will bounce.
- Boost engagement & traffic – on average, AMP leads to a 10% increase in overall traffic and a 100% increase in time spent on page. A Chartbeat study found that readers engage with AMP content for 35% longer than standard mobile pages.
- Get an SEO boost – while AMP is not a direct ranking factor, speed is!
- Boost revenue – AMP seems to be associated with an increase in ad revenue and eCommerce sales
- Get featured in top stories – one of the biggest benefits is that AMP showcases pages on Google’s Top Stories carousel
So we’ve seen that there are plenty of reasons to implement AMP for publishers. Now what’s the best way to do it?
Let’s find out.
AMP for WordPress
WordPress was a major partner in the AMP project – so it’s no surprise that it is straightforward to implement AMP on WordPress.
Now in 2021 it is simple to set up AMP on your WordPress site. The best way to do it is by using one of the best AMP WordPress plugins.
We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best AMP plugins to help you with your choice. Let’s take a brief look at each.
The Best AMP Plugins for WordPress
Here are five of the best WordPress AMP plugins we recommend for optimizing any WordPress site for mobile.
If you’re completely new to AMP on WordPress, then the official plugin from the AMP project may be the way to go. When it comes to executing the main idea behind AMP plugins, this is hard to beat.
Automattic (WordPress’s parent company) and Google contribute to it, and with over 500,000 active installations – AMP remains the most popular AMP plugin in the WordPress plugin repository.
Here are some of the features that make the plugin a strong contender:
- AMP markup automation: AMP automates the process of AMP markup insertion. By sticking to WordPress’s default pattern of content creation, users simply follow the usual workflow they’re used to.
- Error source identification: The plugin delivers a smooth, error-free AMP experience. The key behind this is its ability to find and correct errors in your HTML.
- Default theme compatibility: AMP is also compatible with the core WordPress themes.
With this plugin, there are three template modes to choose from.
- Standard mode – use the plugin sitewide without separating AMP and non-AMP versions on the.
- Transitional mode – uses your site’s active theme to create separate AMP and non-AMP versions of your site.
- Reader mode – delivers a simplified AMP-standard page design. This mode doesn’t serve your entire site but displays posts and pages with a different look to your active theme.
On the downside, you don’t get a lot of control over your AMP content’s look and functionality. However, considering it’s completely free and easy to use, the plugin is always a great choice for newbies.
For site owners and developers looking for an AMP WordPress plugin with great utility and a wide range range of features, AMP for WP is an excellent option to consider. This plugin offers you a lot more control than the official solution.
One of the areas where this control is obvious is in the design department. The Custom AMP Editor lets WordPress developers tweak the AMP content’s look extensively. Using an in-dashboard theme customizer, you not only get to choose from different ready-made themes, but you can also modify their design accordingly.
Here are some other functionalities AMP for WP offers:
- AdSense support and ability to track scripts
- Compatible with contact forms from Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, and Ninja Forms (needs a paid extension)
- Integrates with WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads
- Email opt-ins and Call to Action (CTA) support
- Full SEO plugin compatibility (includes Yoast SEO, All in One SEO, SEOPress, etc.)
AMP for WP is a freemium product. The free version offers only one theme which is still fully customizable. The premium version starts at a good one-time price of $19. Individual extensions can cost as much as $89. If you need full utility on your site, you want to consider paying $149 to get access to all extensions on a single site.
Next on our list of the best AMP WordPress plugins is a less popular product. Despite having only about 1000 active installations, there’s still quite a lot to see here. The plugin is pretty similar in function to the now discontinued Better AMP. Its real-time WordPress Customizer and delivers a highly convenient way to control your AMP content’s look.
Beyond these design options, here are some other areas where you can get creative:
- Decide what post types to implement AMP on
- Switch between layout options such as adding or removing a header
- Add social links
- Include metric tracking analytics such as Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, and a host of others
The plugin supports a decent number of other integration options. Need Gutenberg Editor support, sidebar and slider support, Jetpack and Yoast SEO support? You’ll find them all included!
Unfortunately, AMP WP offers only one theme which is rather limiting. However, it’s completely free and does a great job optimizing your website for mobile.
Similar to AMP for WP, weeblrAMP is another freemium AMP WordPress plugin that is worth mentioning. To justify the starting $49 price tag of the premium version, the plugin packs quite a number of features that leave you spoilt for choice.
Even on the free version, you get arguably the most robust feature offering for any free AMP plugin. Let’s take a look at some of the most important features available for free:
- AMP for all WordPress content types (posts, pages, categories, etc.)
- Ad support in AMP content
- Seamless integration with other plugins such as Yoast SEO and Elementor.
- Google Analytics and Google Tag manager
- Native WordPress comments on AMP pages
If you choose to take things a step further, you do get unrestricted access to advanced features on the premium version. Looking to integrate contact forms from third-party vendors, WooCommerce, and Facebook Pixel? Then the paid version is for you.
weeblrAMP leaves you extensive room to customize your AMP content. If you have a developer on your team, you can even take better advantage of this using custom CSS code.
The final entry on this list is an all-in-one solution that delivers AMP implementation from the SEO-perspective. Though it’s essentially an SEO tool, AIOSEO still offers very useful AMP features that your site can benefit from.
With over 2 million active installs, the plugin has already built a great reputation among site owners and SEO experts. If you’re worried about the SEO performance of your AMP content, this tool is definitely one you should consider. It integrates efficiently (doesn’t require 3rd party addons) with AMP for WP and other AMP WordPress plugins.
Coupled together, you can fetch your titles, descriptions, and other important metadata and display them on AMP without any hassle. Better still, AIOSEO is the only plugin that includes SEO integration for WooCommerce on its free version!
Individuals and businesses who require advanced features such as multi-site support, API integration, and video sitemap will need to purchase a paid subscription package. There are four plans ranging from $49.50/year to $299.50/year.
Which AMP WordPress Plugin Is for You?
Your final choice of WordPress AMP plugin will come down to the nature, scale and specific needs of your site.
While any of the options suggested above implement AMP efficiently, each of them stands out in certain areas.
Here’s a quick recap of the best AMP plugins for WordPress and why you should consider them:
- Official AMP Plugin: Simplest and most efficient solution for newbies
- AMP for WP: Freemium product offering a wide range of features
- AMP WP: Free plugin with decent integration options
- weeblrAMP: Feature-rich solution that supports custom CSS code
- All in One SEO Pack: Powerful SEO plugin with Google AMP support
Looking to learn more about plugins for mobile WordPress? Check out our article on the best mobile plugins for WordPress.
Should you use AMP for WordPress? (Problems with AMP)
No doubt, integrating AMP plugins on your WordPress site is a great move. Based on Google’s report on Slate.com, AMP implementation is capable of boosting your site’s traffic by as much as 44%. Similar results have also been replicated with other major brands such as WordPress, Reddit, Bing, eBay, and Pinterest.
However, it’s important to note that it’s not all roses with AMP. There are some hurdles and problems.
For starters, without the right expertise, implementing and testing AMP can be quite difficult.
Though AMP WordPress plugins simplify the process significantly, you may still want to have an experienced WordPress developer on your team to lend a hand.
From the very start, AMP has been about prioritizing speed over style. With AMP, you may be losing out in the design department.
It is up to you whether these compromises are worth it.
If speed and mobile UX are really important to you, but you don’t want to deal with the downsides of AMP – then there are other options.
There are two great AMP alternatives that allow you to deliver a fast, optimal mobile user experience without compromising so much.
They are both excellent and superior options for publishers – progressive web apps and native news apps.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
Also a web paradigm championed by Google, PWAs allow you to create a lightning fast experience for the mobile web that feels more like an app than a traditional website.
You’ll get a much faster site, all the engagement benefits of AMP and more, and other benefits like the ability to send push notifications and create offline functionality!
PWAs also confer a lot of the same SEO benefits thanks to the speed, and have consistently shown benefits across the board for publishers and other businesses that have built them.
For the full lowdown on PWAs, check out our detailed guide that features more than 50 PWA examples!
Native Mobile Apps
Native content apps can be huge for publishers and ecommerce sites. They provide:
- A home for your most loyal readers and a valuable place on their home screen
- Significant boost to loyalty, engagement and retention
- A new source of revenue through ads, in-app purchases and subscriptions
- The ability to reach all users with push notifications, no matter the device
- A valuable channel that you own 100%, not Google or any other platform
- Higher conversion rates for ecommerce apps
Top publishers have been flocking to apps over the last few years, and it’s not hard to see why. They can be a very powerful channel and boost KPIs across the board.
Check out the story of Simple Flying, the world’s top aviation news site. Their app audience consumes almost 50x more articles per month, and spends at least twice as much time on each! App users are hyper-engaged to an extent that blows AMP out of the water.
The Huffington post found this too, with CEO Jimmy Maymann remarking that:
“People who download our app visit much more frequently and consume 10 times more articles than people coming from the mobile web”
How can you replicate these impressive results for your own brand?
Building PWAs and Native News Apps
Media brands like NYT and Huffington Post have awesome news apps and PWAs. They weren’t easy to build though.
They took teams of developers many months to build, with budgets running into the hundreds of thousands. How can a smaller, more niche media brand compete with that?
The best way to level the playing field is with MobiLoud News. News is our platform for converting any WordPress publisher site into native news apps for iOS and Android. The end result will be apps just as good as those from internationally famous media brands – just check out how Foreign Policy Magazine built their flagship apps with News.
We can also set you up with a PWA, giving you the best possible mobile UX for both web visitors and your core audience who will download the apps.
The apps will update automatically with anything new you publish on your site – so there’s nothing to add to your workflow – and you can even integrate all your plugins and tools from your site into the apps.
The best thing is – you’ll save 90% off the standard price tag, and the apps will be ready in under a month. If you qualify for our Publisher Program – you won’t even have to pay anything upfront at all!
Our team handle all the fiddly parts, including configuration of the apps, submitting them to the App Store and Google Play – and we also take care of all ongoing maintenance and updates as part of our full service, saving you thousands of dollars and dozens of headaches each year.
Mobile UX is king
Maybe you should implement AMP, maybe you shouldn’t. But you definitely should create the best possible mobile user experience. It’s a no brainer.
In 2021, this means native apps and a fast web experience – and MobiLoud News is the best way for you to achieve both, effectively and affordably.
Read more about News here, even better book a demo call with one of our app experts and learn about the whole process.