A question I get asked repeatedly is how to make a WordPress website faster. Since both users and Google place great weight on speedy pages, it’s in everyone’s interest to do all we can to hurry content delivery. And now, with more than half of web content being consumed on phones and tablets, that means speeding mobile delivery.

Which is where WordPress AMP comes in.

What is AMP?

Google saw the problem too, and in 2015 introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), an open-source protocol to make mobile content faster. Their method is to ask sites to create two versions of every page of content – a standard page and a mobile one. The mobile ones, with /amp/ appended to the URL of the desktop pages, use a trimmed subset of instructions and options, all optimized and cached for instant mobile delivery.

Then, when Google detects a mobile search for which one of these pages is the right result, it offers the /amp/ version to the searcher, and signifies the accelerated response with a special lightning bolt symbol:

Google's AMP symbol is a lighting bolt

What Is the WordPress AMP Plugin?

Given that WordPress runs over 25% of the internet, hand-coding all that content to add /amp/ mobile pages would be unthinkable, so the folks at Automattic (the developers of WordPress) created an answer, the WordPress AMP Plugin. This plugin duplicates each post, properly optimizes it for mobile, and assigns a URL that’s the original appended with /amp/. That plugin is the only AMP plugin worth trusting. Notably, this duplicates only posts, not pages. The good folks at Automattic say they’re working on those.

These WordPress /amp/ pages aren’t identical to the desktop versions, but they are close enough, given the huge speed boost. What these /amp/ pages lack, though, is a good way tweak their metadata (for good SEO) and appearance. Another plugin remedies that.

Yoast’s Glue for Yoast SEO and AMP plugin handles this, giving you just enough control to make sure that your mobile SEO is correct and to do some minor color styling to match your site’s theme. Adding this Yoast plugin is worth doing once you’ve added the WordPress AMP Plugin.

Bonus Trick: CloudFlare

CloudFlare is a content delivery network and domain name server service that’s been caching and routing web content for years and now serves content for over 6 million websites. I’ve yet to find a client that doesn’t benefit from CloudFlare’s free version.

Which means that once you set up your domain, you should also have it improve your AMP delivery. By flipping one switch (under the “Speed” icon), you enable searchers and visitors that didn’t arrive from a mobile google search to access the /amp/ pages you have built. This expands Google’s prior monopoly on serving /amp/ pages and helps make the whole internet faster.

Turn on AMP pages in CloudFlare

The takeaway is that adding the WordPress AMP plugin will make your mobile content load faster – up to 3x faster – and that’s a win for everyone.

Still not sure about walking through the process? I can help.

Glenn Miller's Newsletter – The Recess Bell

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