A few months back Google has launched a new article standard called AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) with a goal of consuming textual content on mobile web significantly faster. Just after its launch, Google has started pushing this new standard of article markup very hard. In fact, they have added a new rule in their search algorithm to give the websites with AMP standardized article pages a slightly more score than the sites that don’t enabled it yet. The only reason Google does this is because in fear of making their SEO better, everyone will upgrade to the AMP standard and eventually it will help the general end users, especially with slower mobile internet to consume the contents at a blazing fast speed. If Google wouldn’t have done this, then no one would have bothers to spend more time to make sure that all of their articles are AMP enabled. It’s our human nature, we all are lazy. 😉
On the other hand, Facebook has launched their own article standard named Instant Articles, almost at the same time, with almost a similar goal. But there are a lots of catch to it unlike AMP. One of the major problem with Instant Articles is that you cannot use your existing monetization methods with it. You must have to use Facebook’s own Audience Network. So, you cannot use your favorite monetization network here, be it AdSense or anything else. This is a huge negative impact on a large number of people. Anyway, today in this article I’ll share my thoughts on both Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles to give you guys a clear understanding about which one of this is more beneficial to you and in which on this category you want your development team to work on.
What is Google AMP?
As I explained above, Google AMP is a new article markup standard released by Google to make consuming textual content on web significantly faster. No individual can change these markups anyway like HTML. When HTML was first introduced, users has the full ability to write their own HTML markup and style them with CSS, which leads to some serious problems.
Each HTML tags has some meanings to it which now-a-days very few people follow. For example, the
<br /> tag in HTML was meant to be used inside
<p>…</p> tags only, as
<br /> stands for paragraph break. But I’ve seen many websites using
<br /> tag wherever they need some vertical spacing inside their HTML. This is bad, very bad indeed. Because when any crawlers or bots are reading your site, they just read the raw HTML, CSS, JS files of your site, they don’t see the sites like we humans do. So, if any bots have to take some understanding of a particular page based on the proper HTML tags meaning, it would be a nightmare. Also as HTML has been working like this for so long, you can’t just ask everyone to re-write the HTML of their sites in a meaningful manner.
That is why when Google launched AMP, they made the standardization very strict, so that people can’t alter it any way they like. Also AMPs are built for mobile web only, so when you are doing a Google search on a computer or a tablet, you won’t see these AMP pages returned by Google as search results.
Also in most cases, Google won’t show up your AMP pages in the search result, even if the articles of your websites are AMP enabled. The only time it will show up on Google if the topic of your article is a news based or very trending. That is why you will see most AMP pages shown by Google are news websites as shown in the above image.
The Good Part of AMP
If you run a WordPress site, then making your article AMP ready is extremely easy. You just install the AMP plugin in your site and you are good to go. It is that simple (in most cases). Now if you have a very customized website with a lots of custom features and styling, just installing the plugin will not help you. In fact, you have to spend some serious development time on your site to make sure it works properly without any AMP specific errors.
Well, to be very honest with you guys I love the new AMP standard. Of course they are sometimes much complicated to implement if you have a feature rich awesomely styled website. But after you spend some time to make your website articles AMP standard, you don’t have to look back again. It’s done for good. All the initial efforts you are giving into this, are just initial effort only, you don’t have to keep doing it over and over. You can also take the advantage of your AdSense monetization in your AMP pages.
The Bad Part of AMP
Well to be very honest the hardest part of AMP is making it compatible with your existing web design without compromising your user experience. Now it may sound easy but trust me it is not that much easy. The main problem of AMP pages is its brand new tags and approach to handle the web content. Also if your AMP page has any HTML tag which is not supported in the AMP markup it will throw error and the only possible way of seeing these errors is from Google Webmaster Tools section. It’s very tedious to implement.
Though AMP supports Google AdSense to monetize your content, but the problem is that your normal AdSense code provided by Google will not work inside amp page and will through error without showing the ads. You have to specifically use the ad code with AMP syntax. To help you guys understand the difference between these two different type of ad code syntax, I’m providing a sample code below. Hope it will help you to understand the difference more.
Now even if you have implemented the AdSense ad code exactly the way it should be implemented inside an AMP page, but still it may not show your ads. You see the AMP pages are created for mobile only so if you are asking Google for an ad unit of 728×90 inside your AMP page, it is gonna return blank space because it would be unwise to show that ad unit on a mobile device. But on the other hand if you call a 300×250 ad unit, it will show up properly. Also please note that even if you have enabled the AdSense Page-Level Ads on your website, it’s not gonna work with AMP pages.
Another major problem with AMP pages is that you are highly restricted in terms of designs about how fine your AMP page will look. You can’t do much beside changing some background color, adding some logo or may be changing some text style. Though the intention of making AMP was forcing user not to do much designs so that the page can load faster, but still it’s a bummer if you want to do crazy designs in your AMP pages. AMP pages has been created to look similar with other AMP pages besides the color profile and logos, so keep that in mind.
What is Facebook Instant Articles?
It is kind of similar to Google AMP with a little different in terms of look and feel and also it is only going to show up in facebook news feed and not in search result. Though Facebook Instant Articles uses its own rules and techniques to make the mobile webs faster, but personally I feel that it is way behind that Google AMP.
The Good Part of Facebook Instant Articles
The only goodness that comes from facebook instant articles is that it makes opening a link inside facebook mobile app almost 70% faster. You just tap on the link and it opens up, there is no insane loading time. Also to be honest, I think in terms of looks, facebook instant articles looks slicker than Google AMP page’s stock design.
The Bad Part of Facebook Instant Articles
Unfortunately, the list of bad things is much higher in Facebook Instant Articles than Google AMP. The first and foremost problem with facebook instant articles is that the extreme limitation in terms of styling and design. There are only a hand-few things facebook has allowed to change in the styling tab of instant article panel and you have stick with that. If you want to change the font to something you like, you can’t do that. I know that there are also limitations with Google AMP page designs, but in case of facebook instant articles it is quite more problematic than that.
The next major problem with facebook instant articles is that you cannot use your preferred monetization option anymore. Most successful websites around the world uses Google AdSense for monetization but with facebook instant articles you cannot use that. If you want to monetize your articles you are forced to use facebook’s own ad platform only. This is a huge bummer because now you have re-register for facebook’s ad platform, wait for getting approved and then starts using it. Also it will not perform as good as Google AdSense unless you have an insane amount of fans on facebook who clicks everything you post on your facebook page.
Another thing that I didn’t liked about facebook instant articles is that sometimes it cannot find many things of your website like logo, featured images etc. if your site is a highly designed website with a lot of class ids etc. So, you have to again re-tweak things if you face any problems.
Also please note that even if you do everything right, facebook instant articles is an approval based system. So, after implementing everything, you have to request facebook for approval and if your site doesn’t have quality contents of less than 10 articles facebook won’t even allow to apply for the approval process.
So, which one is better for you?
To be very honest the answer of this question depends upon your business model and marketing strategies. If you run a website whose most user comes from organic search results, I will highly recommend you to concentrate on Google AMP instead of Facebook Instant Articles. On the other hand, if most of your user comes from social networks, mostly from facebook then you should consider giving Facebook Instant Articles more priority than Google AMP. So, it’s very subjective based on your business strategies.
I’ve seen many facebook page with millions of fans and on their website they just copy paste the recent viral contents with some minor modifications and then share the link on their facebook page. These kind of sites still get quite a lot pageviews, but as their contents are not quality content, even if their site gets initially approved for AdSense it will easily get banned over time. So, it’s better for them to take advantage of Facebook Instant Articles and Facebook’s ad platform. But please note facebook instant articles will only gonna work over facebook, so if you share your website link on any other social media site, the user is gonna land on your main site and if it is slow – then they will close it like any other site.
Now if your business has users from both segments, organic search as well as social media, I think it’s better to concentrate on Google AMP along with optimizing your website so that it loads at a blazing fast speed even on mobile devices. But if your facebook page status shows good engagement on your facebook page, then you should give more priority towards Facebook Instant Articles. The only reason I always suggest people to give a little more priority towards Google AMP is because it will slightly boost the SEO of your website but Facebook Instant Articles will not.
Before you jump into anything do keep in mind that both Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles are mostly created for news based websites. Though you can also use on any type of website, but these are mainly created for news type websites. So, even after doing everything right, if you still don’t see your website in the Google Search page as an AMP based article, don’t be mad, it’s upto Google to decide which articles they wanna show up as AMP articles and which are gonna show up as normal article.
If you ask me personally, I would suggest you to concentrate more towards making your website design 100% responsive and to optimize your site at an extreme level so that even if any user opens your main site on their mobile, they don’t have to wait for 5 – 6 seconds to see what you are offering. Website optimization is needs to be the primary goal of all webmasters.
So, what do you think about Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles? Do you use any of them in your website? Did they really helped you to have more click though rate or engagement on your facebook page? Which one did you prefer most? I would love to hear your thoughts on this and continue this conversation in the comment section below.
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