Google AMP Stories can help you improve mobile search results, make content more accessible, and make your mobile experience richer.
As a digital and content marketing pro, you know that adding rich visuals to your content drives higher user engagement, which in turn helps your content show up more prominently in search. Google knows this too and that’s why we’re seeing a newly released a developer preview of their Google AMP Stories.
Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Stories is a new content format for you to emphasize your content and stories in a more visually appealing way, driving more user engagement, especially among mobile users. While there’s no full release date scheduled yet, this is a good time for you to prepare for using AMP Stories to improve your overall content strategy and mobile search results.
Here’s what you need to know:
Why Mobile Search Results Matter
As the name suggests, AMP Stories will primarily affect Google AMP Pages. These are accelerated mobile pages specifically designed for viewing on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Once controversial, they’re now becoming increasingly important as mobile demands increase. Because of this, Google is changing the way these pages are displayed in searches.
While this update will primarily impact mobile searches, the feature will also be available on laptops and desktops. A comparatively small amount of non-mobile searches will also be impacted.
What Makes Content Navigable and Visually Rich
At its essence, Google AMP Stories is an easily navigable and visually rich way to view mobile search results. Google’s promotional video identifies three features of this “mobile first” format:
- Tappable interactions make it easy to navigate stories on touchscreen devices
- Rich visuals are captivating and limit reading on smart devices’ smaller screens
- High performance builds on the speedy AMP pages Google has already launched
In short, this is a way to view search results that are uniquely designed with mobile users in mind.
A Social Trend That’s Proven Successful
The AMP Stories format is innovative for Google’s search results, but it’s hardly new. More companies are copying this format, which was most recently launched by Snapchat. Snapchat launched stories, which was copied by Instagram and then Facebook. The trend can actually be traced further back than Snapchat, to Yahoo News Digest — an app that may have been out before the hardware was in place to support it.
Google is merely the latest company to replicate this format. It’s one that’s been proven on many other platforms, and now it’s being brought to the world’s largest search engine.
How AMP Stories are Changing Mobile Marketing
In launching AMP Stories, Google is both changing how marketers must think about content now and revealing trends that will likely continue to affect search results long after AMP Stories. Some of these trends are already known, while one or two may be newer.
1. Mobile Searches Continue to Grow
First and foremost, the launch of Google AMP Stories should underscore the importance of mobile searches. Google has invested a significant number of resources in developing this, and it’s done in collaboration with major publishers like The Washington Post and Hearst.
All of these organizations see the value of investing in mobile, and for good reason. According to Statista’s data, 2017 was the first year where mobile website traffic accounted for over half of all internet traffic. Businesses and marketers should follow the leads of Google, as well as major publishers, and similarly, invest in content that’s tailor-made for mobile.
2. Visual Content is Advancing
Everyone involved in making and publishing content online has long recognized people’s preference for visually rich content. This may be best evidenced by the mere existence of Pinterest — which is little more than eye candy for the do-it-yourselfer. There are many instances of platforms and businesses incorporating visuals into content, though.
AMP Stories’ impact on this trend isn’t so much that visuals are still important, but instead, the new format highlights that visual content is changing. Visually rich content is no longer a blog post with a thumbnail or even a five-minute animated video. Instead, the visuals featured in Google’s AMP Stories’ video are multi-image stories where pictures move, are positioned together and are interactive.
Creating such visually rich content could tax the resources of many businesses, but a cost-effective solution will inevitably surface. At this point, that exact solution remains unknown. One possibility is the growth of templates and/or apps that compile visuals together to create interactive designs. Time will tell whether a drag-and-drop macro becomes popular.
3. Search is Stealing from Social
Social media’s impact on search results has been documented in recent years. Social media’s impact thus far, however, has focused mostly on how social cues figure into Google’s algorithm. AMP Stories brings an entirely different perspective on the relationship between social and search.
Google is blatantly stealing from social media to improve its users’ search experiences. This particular development may not have immediate effects, but the distinction between social and search could become less clear in the future. Just in the past couple of years, Twitter has become a go-to source for news and Facebook has established itself as a forum for what’s going (or not actually) going on. AMP Stories is a move from search to adopt some of the things that social does well.
4. User Input is Changing
As mobile devices became commonplace, one of the first moves was to adapt websites for these device’s smaller screens. After a few attempts, responsive web designs are now the standard. When responsive designs were developed, AMP Pages were created to accommodate the devices’ limited hardware.
AMP Stories reflects the next stage in adapting to the devices that mobile users are on. The tappable interactions feature is specifically made for use with a touchscreen — and not a mouse or keyboard.
While touchscreens establish themselves as the standard in all computing devices, the way the content is laid out needs to change. Not only will the appearance of buttons that people press change in look, but where they’re located and when they’re activated will likely also morph in the coming years.
5. Evergreen and Trending Content Might Separate
Finally, evergreen and trending content might go their separate ways, once and for all.
In search results, AMP Stories is currently designed to display several stories at once. It’s possible that Google will eventually pull stories from multiple sources, but the immediate future appears to be a format that shows several stories from a single source.
Assuming the current setup continues, Google may favor sources that have multiple stories on a given topic. This could be one reason why publications like The Washington Post, which runs many stories on a daily basis, favor the change. For most businesses, creating multiple stories on trending topics requires too many sources — especially considering the visual and interactive nature of these stories.
As a result, you may soon see a divergence in the type of content that businesses and news publications disperse. Businesses and content marketers may focus on evergreen content so that they can develop a number of story pieces related to a subject over time, while news publications might focus almost exclusively on trending topics because they have the resources to publish several stories in a short timeframe.
For now, Google AMP Stories is still in development mode and only available to a select list of content publishers. When it fully rolls out, however, all businesses are going to need to create content for the new format if they wish to continue to consistently attract mobile search users.
Are you interested in learning more about how Google AMP Stories fits into your digital marketing strategy? If you haven’t been using AMP Stories, and are concerned about spreading yourself and your team a little too thin, contact us to learn how you can start using AMP Stories, and how we can help you scale your marketing and increase your reach today.