The business of blogging can be difficult sometimes, am I right or am I right? Just when you think you’ve perfected keyword search, search engine ranking, and social media, Google throws another monkey wrench into the mix by “strongly encouraging” site owners and bloggers to install Accelerated Mobile Project (AMP). What the ever loving H-E double hockey sticks?!? They (whoever they are) guarantee AMP will improve Google ranking and increase your mobile traffic. If you use your phone or iPad to search the internet, you know all the big sites have implemented AMP, so it is time for us bloggers to pull up our big girl (or boy) panties and get on the band wagon, too. Plus, remember when I told you that I exist to break my site just so I can help you with yours? Yeah…well…I did it again and learned much from my mistakes, so here are my tips for Easy AMP Installation for Bloggers.
Easy AMP Installation Guide for Bloggers
First things first. I need you to follow every single step of this guide, in the order I give it. I mean it. No second guessing, shortcutting, or skipping a step because it looks hard. Make sure you read all the mistakes I made, and how I fixed them, so you will not make the same mistakes. If you do not learn how to set up AMP correctly, in the exact order I give to you, you will break your site or at least very strongly piss it off…and you do not want to piss off WordPress.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (Not in that order)
I am not going to sugar coat it. AMP installation can be a real pain in the ask-me-no-more-questions, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. When I first installed AMP in January, I did not know what I was doing. At all. So of course, I broke my site. Because that is what I do. And when I say broke it, I mean every single URL I own 404’d to nowhere-land or, to put it more simply, no one could see my blog content, which for a blogger is a bad thing. A very bad thing.
It took me three months to clean up the damage to my site. I had to un-install the AMP plugin, re-direct every single one of my URL’s to 301’s, the RE-redirect the 404’s to 301’s when my old 301 plugin failed. (I use Yoast Premium now–it is heaven on earth!) Thank goodness I deleted 80% of my content last year when I re-branded (snort), so I only had 456 posts re-directing to nowhere-land, not 2600. At one point in time, I may have curled up in a ball on the floor, sucking my thumb and sobbing for my mama. If you ask me if you see me in person whether I did this, I will deny it. Besides, my mama is up in heaven and if she were here, she would tell me to get my butt up off the floor and get back to work. So I did.
One could ever accuse me of taking the easy road or backing away from a challenge. (Well, maybe some could.) Still, I am nothing if not persistent. I am also a damned fool. When I finally fixed my site, my traffic started to become more stable, and things were getting back to normal, I thought I would give this AMP thing one more try. (Did I mention I am a damned fool?) This time, however, I did my research and made sure I crossed every I and dotted every T…or something like that. I thoroughly did my homework, so I would not mess my site up again. And I didn’t. Mess up my site that is. The steps I give you below are the exact tools I used to activate AMP on my site. This happened five weeks ago, and except for a few minor glitches, my site is fully AMP-IFIED and I did it without breaking anything! I waited a full month before coming here to share my tips with you, to make sure everything worked fine. And it did. Until I discovered something…
In my excitement to get AMP working on my site, I forgot one really important step—integrating AMP into my Google Analytics. Here I was, wondering why my site traffic was down 75% in the last few weeks, thinking it was just a summer slump. Summer slump my butt!
I was talking to my friend Barb, helping her activate AMP for her site. She was having some issues, so I went to my trusty Yoast Glue guides to figure out why, when I noticed a sentence about Google Analytics. And the light bulb went off in my head. Aha! That is why my site stats had dropped so much! I forgot to add my AMP content to Google Analytics. So I did more research, played around with my site a little more, and got it working. Within five minutes of tweaking my code, Google Analytics started catching my AMP content. You have to add that Google Analytics code to your AMP for WP settings!
The Good Again. Really!
Once I added the coding in the head and body areas of my theme, Google Analytics was able to track all AMP and non AMP mobile + desk top page views. I belong to a private group of awesome GenX/Baby Boomer bloggers and was going to share these tips with them…then I thought that maybe, just maybe there were other bloggers out there afraid (freaked out) about implementing AMP on their sites. Hi bloggers! This guide will really help you!
AMP Installation Guide
Now we come to the nitty gritty steps to install AMP. Take a big shot of Jack Daniels, dig in your heels, and do each step in the exact order I give them. There is a method to my madness (bwahaha) and I promise that you (I) will not break your site. If you start to freak out, find me on Facebook and I will virtually hold your hand and help you through this, because in addition to being really good at breaking my site, I am also really good at is helping my fellow bloggers. (Group hug!)
Take a deep breath now because here we go!
- Go into your WordPress dashboard.
- If you have a backup program (such as UpdraftPlus) do a backup of your site. If you do not have a backup program, get one and do a backup.
- Go to your plugin page and click install new plugins.
- If you do not yet use Yoast SEO, download and activate it. This is an instrumental plugin for the success of your site, so you should be using it anyway. If you already use it, especially the premium edition, you rock.
- Find and install Glue for Yoast SEO and AMP.
- Go to your WordPress dashboard and find SEO on the left hand side, then click AMP in the SEO drop down.
- Find and Activate the AMP for WP plugin.
- Once the AMP for WP plugin is activated, go through each setting on the settings page. You can add your Google Analytics code in the Analytics section to track all your traffic.
- Go to your WordPress dashboard –> Settings –> Permalinks and click the save button on the bottom of the page. This resets your permalinks so you do not get 404’s.
- Wait about 45 minutes, then check your site to see if AMP is working. To do so, add /amp/ to the end of an existing URL. Do not capitalize amp.
- After installing the AMP plugins and setting up Google Analytics, wait 48 hours, then go to your Search Console. (Hopefully you already set up your site in Seach Console. If not, see here.)
- In the Search Console dashboard check to see if you have any crawl errors. If you have any 404’s, click on the link and check to see if it is re-directing to the AMP. If they are re-directing to the AMP okay, click the Mark As Fixed button. If you are still getting 404’s after 48 hours, give me a shout.
- Go back to your Search Console dashboard, click on Search Appearance, then Accelerated Mobile Pages and check to see if you have any errors. If you have critical errors, give me a shout. If you have non-critical errors, don’t sweat them–there are still bugs in Google’s system and these are some of them. Make sure your content is indexing though, which you should see in this area. AMP may take 2-3 weeks to index, so if it is not happening right away, check it again in a week.
I hope this helps. It was not that hard, was it? If you have problems, give me a shout, and I will try to help you, but also be patient. It will take time for Google to index your AMP pages, but your content will still show up for your followers. My pages took about 10 days to fully index and two months for my traffic to completely bounce back. The biggest problem you might run into is your pages may start 404-ing but with the Glue plugin, that should not happen.