Automattic Adds AMP Support to WordPress.com, Releases Plugin for Self-Hosted Sites

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Today WordPress.com announced support for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Google’s open source project to improve the experience of the mobile web for publishers. When visitors arrive to a WordPress.com site via a mobile search, posts will load faster than ever before.

Each post is dynamically generated according to the AMP spec, with /amp/ added to the end of the URL for the mobile version. They’re also cached in Google’s cloud infrastructure to reduce loading time. The performance gains are staggering. In early tests, Pinterest’s engineering team found that AMP pages load four times faster and use eight times less data than traditional mobile-optimized pages.”

What makes AMP pages load so quickly? Google has a strict set of optimizations that are employed to improve mobile loading:

  • Allow only asynchronous scripts
  • Size all resources statically
  • Don’t let extension mechanisms block rendering
  • Keep all third-party JavaScript out of the critical path
  • All CSS must be inline and size-bound
  • Font triggering must be efficient
  • Minimize style recalculations
  • Only run GPU-accelerated animations
  • Prioritize resource loading
  • Load pages in an instant

To see just how fast AMP is, check out the Google search demo at g.co/amp.

Automattic also released a plugin that allows self-hosted WordPress users to take advantage of the mobile performance improvements offered by AMP. The plugin has been tested since October and is currently active on 8,000 installs. For most users, it’s as easy as installing the plugin and activating it. The default styles are fairly generic but developers can refer to the documentation on GitHub to further customize AMP styles.

The Jetpack team is working on getting its publishing-related modules ready for AMP compatibility. In order to take advantage of AMP performance increases, users have to compromise on JS-powered features like Sharing Buttons and Likes.

“It’s definitely something on our roadmap, and we’re working on the details and timeline at the moment,” Jetpack team lead Sam Hotchkiss told the Tavern.

According to NiemanLab’s survey of newsrooms, publishers that are not running on WordPress are struggling to get on board with AMP, due to the fact that it requires developer resources to implement. This is especially difficult for those that impose JavaScript-based paywalls, as AMP heavily restricts JavaScript.

AMP allows for paywalls, subscription content, and ads, but for many publishers these will have to be rebuilt to be distributed according to the AMP specifications. At this time, AMP does not support “interstitials,” the pop-up ads that obscure content and annoy readers.

Publishers can opt not to support AMP, but the kicker is that Google may show preference to results that are configured to deliver AMP-powerd posts, simply by virtue of the fact that it already factors page speed into results. The AMP demo shows a carousel of AMP-powered posts under Top Stories, but it’s not yet clear whether this will be the actual implementation.

AMP is a Big Win for the Open Web

Google is firing back at Facebook’s Instant Articles with the official launch of AMP today. Facebook’s attempt to speed up mobile viewing is platform-specific and only available within its app. AMP, on the other hand, works anywhere online and is controlled and customized by the publisher.

In October 2015, WordPress.com was one of the first publishers to partner with Google on this initiative to speed up the mobile web. Paul Maiorana, VP of Platform Services at Automattic, announced the company’s involvement in the project on the VIP blog:

We believe that open source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. We strongly and actively support a free, open internet. We’re very happy to support an open source initiative like AMP, which brings publishers and technology companies together to make a better mobile experience for everyone.

The mobile web is currently a zombie wasteland of bloated, sluggish pages – many sites are unbearable to browse and users quickly abandon slow-loading pages. The AMP project helps publishers deliver a leaner version of posts. It makes mobile browsing faster for everyone, not just those using a few select apps. As such, it is a victory for the open web.

For more background on the project with comments from WordPress.com’s Paul Maiorana, check out video below:

44 Comments


  1. Oh, this is super interesting. I know very little about this: is the new plugin something for absolutely all self-hosted sites? Or are there any disadvantages to using it? Or reasons some sites shouldn’t use it? Is the Tavern using it?

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    1. It’s useful for publishers. We are using it but haven’t customized the output yet.

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  2. Curious to see how Google Analytics will be served on the AMP pages, because as I see it now, it’s not an option. If the overall idea is to serve faster pages, rank pages better who use it, how can we see the benefits without a way to track? Unless I’m missing something.

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    1. There’s a pretty cool plugin from PageFrog that not only helps with AMP and FBIA, as far as styling goes, but also lets you integrate analytics like GA:

      http://pagefrog.com/

      I’ve just installed, and set-up was really easy.

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      1. I’ve activated that plugin, but it has other issues. Such as /amp/ getting stripped from the URLs and not showing AMP pages.

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      2. Hi mate, just saw your email too – did you get it fixed? It’s not intuitive, for sure, going to drop a suggestion in the support forum re.
        UI. But it’s nice and clean once I had worked out where it wasn’t doing what it said it does. :)

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  3. This is a timely post. I’ve been poring over the AMP docs and (as a non-techy blogger-type) was trying to work out how I could use.

    Looks like the self-hosted plugin might be a nice option. Looking at the notes on the repo, though, there’s this bit:

    Note #2: this plugin only creates AMP content but does not automatically display it to your users when they visit from a mobile device. That is handled by AMP consumers such as Google Search. For more details, see the AMP Project FAQ.

    Does that mean users only see an AMP-powered post if coming in from search?

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    1. That’s primarily the main use case for AMP right now. AMP-compatible apps like Google Search and Nuzzel will give preference to and show AMP content where available.

      If/when the plugin supports things like full archives, it might make more sense as a replacement for the mobile version of your site.

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      1. Gotcha. That makes sense – I just rechecked this post on mobile, and clicked on the link that Brin shared, of the AMP version of this post. No comments, author boxes, or anything at the end, which makes me reticent to use at the minute.

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      2. “Google Search and Nuzzel will give preference to and show AMP content where available” – So Google is already effectively giving a rankings boast to AMP enabled content?

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      3. Can’t help thinking it would be really nice if the new plugin had a load of customization options built in – https://wordpress.org/plugins/amp/faq/ . Otherwise, how are regular users (non-coders) ever going to manage to customize it at all? :(

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      4. Agreed – heck, even a simple WYSIWYG editor like in WordPress itself would be welcome.

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      5. Brin, the idea **is** to serve bland content, so custiomisation is pointless and might go against the AMP protocol.

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  4. AMP is a Big Win for the Open Web

    Totally not. google tries to force people into this kind of format to make better user experience on android devices by using probably false promises about “search engine ranking improvements”.

    If they cared about “open web” here they would have gone via the relevant standard bodies, and without the backing of facebook (which on mobile is a client of choice for many people to navigate the web) and apple (obvious why), the only thing “open” here is the marketing spin.

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      1. CPP sounds idiotic. If someone wants his page to load fast, why does he needs to ask the browser to enforce it on him?

        There is a reason why publishers do not want their users to have a second rate experience on mobile, either none google ads, or complex UI components, if they have wanted to degrade the mobile experience to make it faster, they could have done it easily. It is ridiculous that if my site serve a population of iphone 6 users in the US that I need to make a special version of it so it will load better on some cheap android in india.

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    1. I have done some reading up on the subject and I think it is nothing more and nothing less than a way for Google to compete with Facebook and Apple.
      AMP seems only useful to/for large news sites, and I think that the only reason many are getting so excited is, because it’s open source.

      Now I like to serve static content and software focusing on making it possible to serve WordPress statically is super interesting, I think. Not buying into this AMP thing though.

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    2. That makes sense. I think it’s better to create a standard for mobile content where AMP-similar rules are applied and when a website supports that, it will be displayed in the search results as “Optimized for mobiles”.

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  5. Haha, google cares about web developers which will modernize client’s sites and make profit)

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  6. I really hate everything about this.. Like others have said it’s simply another attempt by Google to force mobile websites to behave the way THEY want, with the threat of penalising those who don’t. Not only would it take a substantial amount of work to implement this in your projects, it’s also another thing to worry about. Nope. Nope. Nope

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    1. Someone needs to finally come up with a search engine that takes over google’s position (the same way google did take yahoo’s / AOL position).

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  7. WHY does Google think site speed is the only determinant of a good mobile browsing experience? And why on Earth does it think it has the right to force publishers into adopting its own “optimization” standards? Not keen on the technical and/or “SEO” benefits of this, and not sold on the marketing spin.

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    1. Why do you say Google thinks speed is the only determinant of a good mobile browsing experience?

      In many areas of the world the available mobile networks offers only very low speed, or higher speed is very expensive for the average user. So lightweight mobile pages is very important.

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      1. Why change the entire world-wide-web’s algorithm while it makes more sense to upgrade the developing world’s equipment first?

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      2. Ummm, you mean the developing world like the USA where LTE speeds rival those of India, where thirteen other countries have higher broadband speeds than the US?

        Point is, when most major news sites have “contributions” on the page from as many as a dozen different servers, something needs to break the logjam.

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  8. All CSS must be inline and size-bound

    Thanks Google.

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  9. The AMP project has to be seen in light of the initiatives by Facebook, Apple and Twitter to force all content into their own framework, instead of sharing links to content on the open web. If they succeed the open web will be killed.

    Making a new markup language, like amp, derived from html, and introduce stricter rules on what’s acceptable, is far from ideal.

    Earlier Google launched SPDY, but after HTTP/2 was standardized, they now abandon SPDY.

    There is no penalty by Google for not using AMP. Google has always had a strong focus on speed and unique content. Good mobile pages will be honoured as always.

    I have installed this plugin on a few of my sites and will start evaluating. See if I like it. See if there are benefits. The ordinary html pages are still available, even for mobile devices.

    BTW: I love the “Read mode” in Firefox, stripping down the page layout to something more readable.

    Why do we, the developers, create such bloated sites and pages, not focused on the content? And why does our clients demand such “nice”, advanced, bloated, visually stunning sites, instead of focusing on consuming the content? We do. I’m guilty as hell.

    AMP has made me think more about this, at least.

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    1. AMP are proper web pages and google said that speed is a factor in ranking, therefor I find it hard to imagine that they will demote AMP pages that are being linked to just because the “full version” is slower. They might not get any special treatment, but they don’t need to, just the speed factor will play for them.

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  10. The plugin is an awesome start but isn’t as flexible and robust as it could be, especially for the non tech folks. We will be launching our own plugin very soon. Great initiative and I see a bright future for AMP. Can’t wait to see how it evolves. http://www.ampcoders.com

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  11. AMP is an interesting project. In my view it has one important drawback: You MUST load content for your webpage from the AMP cdn. This means your visitors are automatically tracked by a third party (even if you have no webfonts of google analytics). So this would be a no go for government, medical, privacy rights, and so on websites. It probably won’t matter for the majority of sites, as they already load js, webfonts and analytics from a cdn.

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  12. Thanks Sarah,

    I’m glad I stopped by today. Finally a little ray of hope for speed on mobile.

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  13. Interesting, but limiting. I installed the plugin and the AMP version of posts using an AJAX lookup plugin had it stripped out.

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  14. I installed the plugin from 1 week ago, but does not appear in search results. I checked with developer tools and the code is valió.

    Example:

    URL : http://portalhoy.com/descargar-play-store-gratis/

    AMP URL: http://portalhoy.com/descargar-play-store-gratis/amp/

    The web is in google news, all going well but I do not see the AMP pages in search results. In the webmaster tools I have 1500 pages indexed with AMP and only 2 pages with errors.

    Someone knows what can i do?

    Thanks!!

    Adnan Faisal

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  15. Hi,

    I am also sharing my experience my about AMP, I install the AMP WordPress by Automattic on my blog Blogging World. After 4 days of Plugin Installation I see Error in my google webmaster tool that “Invalid attribute value” I do not know what is error about.

    I have a question is there is some syntax or other error created by this plugin caused this error or something else ? Is there is need to install any other plugin with AMP for best performance or not ?

    Effected URL showing in Google Webmaster tool:

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  16. hi i am also sharing my experience my about amp, l install the amp word -press by automattic on my blog blogging world. after 4days of plugin in- stallation i see Error in my google webmaster tool that “invalid attribute value ” i do not lnow what is error about.

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  17. I’m yet to update my Blog’s content to AMP as mst of the articles appear to be full of jargons which just bounces over my head.

    However with WP plugin, I’ll give it a shot and see if there’s a real value out of it for the blog.

    Also, will there be a built-in preview for AMP pages, or we have to do validation, like this article talks about: http://www.simplilearn.com/how-to-validate-accelerated-mobile-pages-quickly-via-google-article ?

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  18. I’ve found amp plugin for magento stores by Plumrocket I think it really simplifies all the work with amp implementation. But still I have some doubts regarding amp technology.

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