Mobilegeddon Again: How to Survive Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles

Business.com / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

With Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Facebook Instant Articles, you can now access news on mobile in milliseconds.

Good news for impatient users: with Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Facebook Instant Articles, you can now access news on mobile in milliseconds.

The projects of the two giants of the web are created to solve a specific issue: mobile users are impatient. If a web page fails to load within 5 seconds, 74 percent of users will abandon it.

Google and Facebook have thus created, each in their own way, a solution that will improve the experience and the use of content on smartphones. What are the consequences for small and mid-size businesses on the web?

We know. You too are impatient. But before revealing it, we’ll give you a brief summary of these two revolutionary projects.

Man Sitting on Bench looking at smartphone

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Google AMP: More Answers in Less Time

Google launched its experimental project last year, in collaboration with a group of publishers, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and Condé Nast.

It is an open source system allowing web pages to load instantly. AMP will gradually get rid

of HTML, CSS and JavaScript elements on the page, which slow down many sites according to Google.

AMP users will improve their website’s performance by 15 percent to 85 percent. For those who still have not seen the results, here is a video showing the potential of this publishing system.

Starting February 2016, AMP will be accessible to everyone and will become an integral part of our browsing experience on smartphones.

Facebook Instant Articles: Speed Goes Social

It is a new format to publish articles on Facebook, which allows instant load time even on mobile. In addition to speed, the benefits for those who publish using Instant Articles are also its multi-media format: auto-play video, audio and interactive maps can be placed.

These multi-media contents can be shared individually by users and can be distributed independently from the original article, thus multiplying visibility opportunities. From the initial data, users seem to like Instant Articles, since in the first months of testing a sharing rate three times greater than the traditional ones, was recorded.

Related Article: Does Your Company Need a Digital Makeover?

What Will Change for Small Businesses?

Many have enthusiastically welcomed the prospect of a better browsing experience on mobile. From the point of view of web publishers, being able to access free resources to make their content more accessible is definitely a great opportunity.

But these novelties are not as impartial as they may seem. The first to adopt Google AMP’s and Facebook Instant’s systems will be privileged in terms of views. Welcoming these novelties is not a problem for big companies.

Smaller businesses, however, often lack the resources to quickly adapt to change. What will happen to those who cannot keep up with these changes? Here is a brief guide to ride the wave of these innovations without being crushed:

1. Implementing a Site: From What to How

With AMP, Google provides an open source system to make your web pages load faster and more accessible. This is a nice gift but all that glitters is not gold: Google AMP provides much faster loading time, but returns a very poor content. Here's an example, as reported by Searchenginewatch.com.

HTML and AMP comparative on tablets

However, it is impossible to refuse to accept change. Google has not explicitly said that AMP will affect the results, but it will favor sites with faster load time in search rankings.

To avoid disappearing from search results, you have three possible choices:

  1. A site in HTML and one in AMP: the fact that AMP exists does not mean that all content should be published with this system. If most of your content is particularly rich or multi-media, the best solution is to keep your current site in HTML and create an AMP counterpart, where you will publish only the content that you think is suitable. In this way, you can compare the results of the old and new system.
  2. Use a WordPress plugin: if the richness of your site is given by a simple content, such as text and images, you can install a simple WordPress plugin that will allow you to produce content already formatted in AMP.
  3. Recreate the site from scratch, following AMP parameters: this is the lengthiest and most expensive solution, especially for small businesses. But you can choose an online system for websites and apps to build a website quickly and with a small budget. These platforms require no special graphic design skills and offer ready-made templates, perfectly viewable on any device.

2. Advertising: From What to Which

Most of the ads on the web are written in JavaScript. Too bad Google’s AMP code does not support them: ads must be re-thought and written with the new system to keep their visibility.

This kind of change is not easy for small and mid-size companies because it entails spending time and bearing the costs for the work of web designers and programmers.

But keep in mind that Google is not the only place to gain visibility: Facebook offers, within Instant Articles, simple ads that can be created immediately. 90 percent of the ads on Instant Articles are loaded on mobile before the user even gets to see it. Excellent performance over traditional ads. To create an ad in Instant Articles you can start here.

Where do ads get published? There are two options:

  1. The editor will choose which ads to publish, according to the advertising agreements, obtaining 100 percent of the revenue generated.
  2. Facebook will choose according to the article’s target, in exchange for 30 percent of the revenue.

This last option is the most interesting one for marketers. Your target will see the ad in an article that interests them and it is published on a credible space. Therefore, they will be more likely to interact with it.

Facebook Instant Articles are a great way to test out the speed while waiting to have sufficient resources to make your way back to Google, don’t you think?

3. Posting/Publishing a Content: From Why to How

Instant Articles are visible on the newsfeed of millions of users on Facebook. In the first experimental phase only a limited number of people were allowed to publish. But now there is room for everyone, even for those aiming at the local audience.

People are not just interested in what happens around the world, they also want news about the area where they live. How do you create a powerful Instant Article? Only four ingredients are needed for this recipe:

  1. Create an RSS feed of the stories you want to publish. If you don’t know how, you can check out this guide, then connect it to your Facebook page.
  2. Choose the style you want to give to the news: use the logo, colors, fonts that belong to your corporate identity, so that people can easily recognize the source of your articles.
  3. Insert your ad or let Facebook choose which ones may be of interest to your target.
  4. Embed analytics tools: in addition to Facebook’s Insight, which monitors click rates, time spent on the article and scroll depth, you can continue to use external analytics tools like Google Analytics or comScore. To distinguish the article views coming from your site from those generated on Facebook, you can add a specific tag to the analytics code in your Instant Article.

Facebook Articles Insight Graph

Related Article: Move It or Lose It: Tricks for Increasing Your Website’s Speed

In Conclusion: Don’t Do Anything Drastic Without Experimenting

Accelerated Pages, Instant Articles, or both? According to some, for small business it is better to focus on Facebook Instant Articles, which are faster and easier to make compared to the implementations required by Google AMP.

Others instead recommend using both because they are similar but different opportunities. On one hand, you increase the visibility of your content on the search page. On the other hand, you gain visibility on social medias.

We recommend this second option as well. Google and Facebook are giants of the web, not two religions for you to choose from. Listen to what they have to say. Try out the pros of AMP and Instant Articles, but do not believe all their promises.

The secret to survive speed is not by taking radical decisions, but by being flexible and open to all solutions. If the course of the stream were to suddenly change, you would be ready to go with the flow.

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