What Are AMPs and Are They Worth It?
In 2015, Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). The program, originally targeted at those in the publishing industry, allowed businesses access to an open-source library in order to create websites with faster load times on mobile devices.
There has been a lot of debate amongst marketers and web designers about whether creating AMPs are worth the effort. Here, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of implementing AMPs for your clients’ websites, whether they’re in publishing or any other field.
How AMPs Work
As I mentioned above, AMPs are designed to load much more quickly than normal website pages. While Google launched the project, other major names have signed on including Twitter, Bing, and Pinterest.
When it first started four years ago, publishers were the target audience for the AMP Project. Google incentivized AMPs by featuring publishers who had embraced AMP in their news carousel. It has since expanded to include other kinds of websites, and there are now billions of AMPs on the internet.
The pages can be created by developers using AMP HTML or AMP JS, or for those who don’t code, there are plugins for WordPress that can be used. The web pages are still controlled by the individual company, and they can be linked to just like normal web pages. The major difference is that faster load time.
Why Faster Load Times Matter
A page that loads quickly is a critical part of creating a good user experience. We’ve all been there: You do a Google search and click on a link that sounds promising, only to sit there and watch the page load at a snail’s pace. How often do you wait around for it to load, and how often do you end up just clicking back to the SERP and selecting your next best option?
Companies definitely miss out on business when their websites are slow to load. And this isn’t just anecdotal; Google has done the research on AMP and has the numbers to back it up. AMPs see a 10 percent increase in traffic, and visitors spend twice as much time on the page once they’re there. For e-commerce sites, they see a 20 percent increase in sales conversions with AMP.
All of this means that faster load times have a real effect on a company’s bottom line. When people stick around a website longer, they’re more likely to take the next step towards becoming a customer. And when sites see 20 percent more sales conversions, that translates to a lot of additional revenue year after year.
AMP Implementation Options
As I mentioned above, sites can either take a custom code approach to implementing AMP or they can opt to use a plugin.
While a plugin is certainly an easier option, it’s not necessarily going to get you the results you want in the long run. In fact, Stone Temple Consulting shared the results of their own AMP implementation with Moz, and they found that using the WordPress plugin actually hurt them.
The plugin increased the page loading speed, but it didn’t seamlessly convert the elements on the web page. The menu displayed incorrectly and some of the other formatting was off, and this left users unhappy. Stone Temple saw a higher bounce rate and a decrease in both session duration and number of pages per session.
All this to say that there is value in taking the more involved route of creating a custom AMP. When you have full control over the look and feel of the site that users will see once the page loads, you can ensure that the increased load time won’t be canceled out by a bad user experience once visitors arrive on the page.
Set Aside the Time and Budget to Do it Right
Because a thoughtfully designed AMP does require custom coding, you want to be sure you dedicate the appropriate time and energy to creating the pages.
First, decide whether you’re going to convert all of your pages to AMP, or just have a few key landing pages in AMP and leave the rest of your site as is. There are pros and cons to each approach. While creating only a handful of AMPs will save you time, if there’s a large discrepancy in load times between the AMPs and standard pages, users might be turned off when they find that none of the secondary pages load as quickly as the first page they clicked on.
You may want to meet somewhere in the middle, and again, this depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re working with a client who has an e-commerce site, there might be value in switching the entire site to AMP, or at the very least making sure that the product pages for their most expensive items are AMP. You don’t want their biggest spenders to be met with the slowest load times.
If you’re thinking about AMP for your own website, maybe consider it for your homepage, contact form page, and the pages for your top services, but forego it for your blog and podcast.
Keep in mind that there is a demonstrable benefit to AMP pages, particularly for those in e-commerce, so even if it costs more money up front to convert, you can expect to see a return on that investment.
AMPs have done a lot of good for the businesses who have implemented the pages. If you’re looking for a relatively easy way to amp up the user experience from a visitor’s first click on your site, them AMPs just might be the solution you’re looking for.