It’s tough to keep up with all the latest changes in tech and blogging, especially when you’re a team of one.
It’s easy to miss or ignore some changes – many don’t even catch on, so why bother keeping up with everything?
That’s probably what a lot of businesses thought when Penguin rolled out, or before Mobilegeddon started penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
But if you’re a pro blogger, online business owner, or entrepreneur whose content is crucial to your success, then this change is one you should be on top of – or you could find yourself dropping in your search engine rankings, and losing traffic and readers.
The good news is, Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles aren’t too hard to implement, and they can quickly boost your readership. Here’s how to get started.
What is Google AMP?
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It’s a new project by Google that’s designed to increase site loading speed and user experience on mobile.
You may have seen it in Google search from your mobile device already: some of the articles in your mobile search results appear in a carousel above the regular search results:
In order to use AMP, you can’t just use your regular website code. You have to actually generate an alternate version of your website that fits the AMP standards, stripping it down to only the essential elements.
(We’ll go over how to automatically enable that in WordPress below.)
What about Facebook Instant Articles?
Similar to Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles is also an alternate way to display your content to users so that it loads incredibly fast. But the Instant Articles project has some major differences from Google AMP.
Facebook Instant Articles allows Facebook users to read your entire article right from the Facebook mobile app, instead of clicking through to your website. The articles load instantly when the user clicks on them, so they don’t have to wait for your entire website to load.
Unlike Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles is proprietary, not open source. That means that while other services and sites like Twitter can automatically use Google AMP, Facebook has to approve partners to publish Instant Articles to Facebook.
For a while, Facebook Instant Articles were in beta and only available to select publishers, but they’ve just opened up the tool to anyone who is an editor or an administrator of a Facebook page.
After signing up, you can add Instant Articles manually from your Facebook page, or automatically via one of Facebook’s publishing partners. Currently, Facebook’s Instant Articles partners include WordPress, Medium, RebelMouse, ShareThis, Sovrn, Tempest, Adobe Analytics, Chartbeast, Nielsen, Parsely, and SimpleReach.
When you publish an Instant Article on Facebook, you can also choose to enable advertising. You can direct sell ads and keep 100% of the revenue.
What are the benefits to bloggers?
For both new technologies, the benefits are hopefully in increasing the number of eyes on your content.
AMP-compliant pages will appear first in mobile search results, pushing regular search results to lower on the page, below the fold. That means that even if you’re in a top position for a search term, you’ll likely see a decrease in traffic from mobile searches because AMP pages will appear first.
But if you set up AMP for your website, you could see an increase in mobile search traffic.
The increased loading speeds can also benefit your site. Slow loading times can skyrocket your bounce rate, especially on mobile. One study found that sites that loaded just 1 second faster saw a 27% increase in conversions.
Facebook says that enabling Instant Articles to display your content within Facebook’s mobile app can increase the readership of an article by 20%, and make readers 70% less likely to abandon an article. Instant Articles are also shared 30% more often than mobile web articles on average. While you lose out on the control and benefits of having readers visit your own website, you can still earn ad revenue from your content.
Setting up Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles on WordPress
Step 1: Install the PageFrog plugin
PageFrog is a free WordPress plugin that will walk you through setting up Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles.
You can get started by downloading the plugin and installing it to your WordPress site under Plugins > Add New.
Step 2: Setup Facebook Instant Articles
Once you activate the plugin, you’ll be redirected to the new Mobile Formats menu option.
Go ahead and click the green “Begin Setup” button for Facebook Instant Articles.
Scroll down to step 5 and copy your unique feed URL (you’ll need this later):
In a separate browser tab, navigate to InstantArticles.FB.com and click the blue Sign up button:
Select the Facebook page you’d like to publish as, review the terms, and click the Access Instant Articles Tools button.
Navigate to your Facebook page and click the Publishing Tools link in the top menu.
On the left hand menu, click Production under the Instant Articles section.
Click the Set Up button at the top right:
Scroll down to the Tools section, and click on Production RSS Feed. Paste the feed URL you got in Step 1 into the box, and click Save:
Now if you navigate again to Publishing Tools > Instant Articles, you should see a list of recent posts from your RSS feed. You need to have at least 10 articles in order to submit them for review and become and approved publisher.
Step 3: Setup Google AMP
Go back to your WordPress dashboard and click on the Mobile Formats menu option. Then click the green Begin Setup button for Google AMP.
Follow the steps in the popup to install a separate AMP plugin:
Step 4: Customize your styling
Navigate to Mobile Formats > Styling to set up your AMP styles to match your website:
Unfortunately, you can only change Facebook Instant Articles styling from Facebook, not from WordPress. Click on the Instant Articles tab to get instructions on how to do this:
Step 5: Watch your traffic grow
Click on Mobile Formats > Analytics to enable your analytics software of choice:
Now you’ll be able to track your Instant Articles and AMP pages and see how it affects your traffic!
While not every new technology is worth pursuing, Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles can have an immediate effect on your traffic and readership, and are worth trying out. And since you’re using WordPress, it’s easy to set them up with the PageFrog plugin.