Smartphones have revolutionized the way we access information. Mobile web usage has seen a massive jump over recent years and since it surpassed desktop usage there have been many efforts from leading platforms like Facebook and Google to make the web faster. Luckily, we were not the only ones who realised that there was something wrong with web performance on mobile devices.
In May 2015 Facebook launched Instant Articles, a solution for publishers who distribute their stories on Facebook and want them to perform better on mobile. Shortly after, Google introduced the AMP Project, an open source initiative which aims to improve the performance of the mobile web, with a strong focus on speed and loading times.
In this post, we will explore some of the best WordPress plugins which can be used to generate Facebook Instant Articles and AMP pages in an easy way.
If you still don’t know what’s the difference between AMP and Instant Articles, which option could be the ideal for you or if you should embrace both, this post may help you to decide.
Instant Articles for WP
In order to integrate your WordPress site with Instant Articles you need to create a RSS feed which has to be approved by Facebook. The RSS feed contains data about each article, such as the title, header images or body content.
Facebook has a review process where they verify that all Instant Articles generated from your site are properly formatted and they require a minimum number of articles in your feed. You can see here Facebook’s documentation for full details of the submission process.
Thankfully, Automattic’s Instant Articles plugin will help you with that as it creates a new type of feed for you, making sure that your articles meet the formatting requirements. However, you might see some errors depending on the theme or plugins you are using.
The WordPress plugin handles all the basics and once it is activated, a new menu will be available for you to connect to your Facebook Page. Before you start publishing your Instant Articles you’ll need to have a Facebook App as it is an essential requirement for setting up FBIA (Facebook Instant Articles).
The appearance of your articles is managed using Facebook’s Style Editor, but it is quite limited to the templates they have available.
Lastly, the Automattic’s plugin also offers different methods to display advertising within your content and enables third party analytics to be used with Instant Articles.
Adding FBIA on your WordPress site is not as simple as installing this plugin. As you have probably noticed, there is some initial setup and certain requirements that you will need to know before you can start publishing. I highly recommend reading this step by step tutorial from WPBeginner as it will walk you through all the process.
This plugin by Automattic makes it super easy to create AMP articles.
After activating this plugin, all posts on your site will have generated AMP-compatible versions. You can check the AMP version of your articles by adding /amp/ to the end of the URL. For example: www.yoursite.com/name-of-the-post/amp/.
With this plugin, however, you won’t be able to customize the style of your AMP pages as there are no settings. If you want to add some styling or track the analytics for WordPress AMP articles you will need to download some of the following plugins.
Facebook Instant Articles & Google AMP Pages by PageFrog
PageFrog is a free “all in one” WordPress plugin and a very easy solution for content creators to publish and manage content for Google AMP and FBIA in a single interface.
Upon its activation, a “Mobile Formats” option will appear on the left menu where you can begin the setup process for both formats.
If you click the ‘Begin Setup’ button for Facebook Instant Articles, this plugin will automatically generate a special RSS feed for Instant Articles that you’ll have to add to your Facebook page. Don’t worry, you will find a number of steps to follow that will guide you throughout all the process.
The Google AMP setup is quite simple too. You will just have to follow the steps in the popup to install the Automattic’s AMP plugin.
PageFrog enables you to customize your AMP styles with live mobile previews as well as connect multiple third party analytics to your FBIA and AMP pages using Google Analytics, Chartbeat, Parsely, and more. It also supports Facebook ads and Google AdSense so you can monetize your content through these platforms.
Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP
Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP is a complement to the AMP plugin. As its name suggests, this plugin “glues” Yoast SEO and AMP. In other words, it makes sure the default WordPress AMP plugin uses the proper Yoast SEO metadata.
Once you have set up this plugin, just continue configuring your Yoast SEO options as usual and it will ensure that search engines discover your AMP pages.
Integrating Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP on your WordPress site may seem a time-consuming and tedious process, but both are solutions that benefit publishers in many ways. They provide a much faster and a better experience on mobile devices, helping your readers be more engaged with your content.
Are you currently using any of these plugins? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.