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Is AMP Worth It? (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

Last updated

by

Daniel Wade

 / 

May 28, 2021

Despite launching nearly six years ago, marketers still don’t know whether shifting traditional web pages to AMP, accelerated mobile pages is a worthy pursuit.

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, is a technology that allows marketers to optimize any webpage for mobile. Even though AMP improves speed, search performance, and even conversions, its negative impact on user experience and slightly more technical requirements cast a shadow on its overall usefulness.

Is AMP even worth it? To some marketers, it is, but others aren’t so willing to adopt it owing to its significant downsides. We’re here to find out if AMP is something that all marketers should consider or stay away from.

Google gives a superb rundown on AMP here, which is what I’ll be breaking down to help you understand the technology fully. I will also cite other sources that discuss the technology in-depth to give you the full picture, which you’ll need before you can confidently adopt (or pass up) AMP.

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What Is AMP?

On result pages, AMP pages can be identified by the small lightning bolt beside the link. 99 % of us have already experienced them, but not everyone is aware of it.

AMP was created by Google and developed by the AMP Open-Source Project. The technology is used to speed up loading times on web pages and optimize them for mobile devices.

The reason why it’s so fast is that pages can be cached by a content delivery network (CDN) and therefore served more quickly.

However, this speed comes at the expense of visual elements such as videos, maps, and other things that boost user experience. This can feel like a costly compromise to companies that have invested heavily in user experience.

AMP was introduced to rival Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News, which work under the same principle. They share a common goal—to deliver optimized pages at lightning speed to mobile devices.

Does That Mean We Should All Be Using AMP?

Why AMP Exists

There Are More Mobile Users Than Desktop Users

Internet usage is now dominated by mobile devices. That happened in 2016. Three years before that, global internet usage was split from 78.39% to 16.89% in favor of desktop users.

By the end of 2020, mobile users comprised a whopping 53.74% of all internet users, with only 43.21% of internet traffic coming from desktops. (Tablets, which are considered separate, garnered a meager 2.92%).

This, in itself, is a revelation of just how vital mobile optimization has become. That’s why AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, and Apple News exist—the internet demands mobile-friendliness now more than ever.

The fact that these technologies willingly sacrifice features that drive up engagement on desktop sites to boost loading speed says a lot about the modern internet user. Time is everything, and the less users have to wait, the more enjoyable their experience is.

In fact, time is the other reason why AMP still exists and seems to be thriving.

A Few Seconds Can Make A World Of Difference

AMP pages load about twice as fast as conventional mobile-optimized pages. Although it may not seem like it, these few seconds can have a massive impact.

The average retail mobile site takes almost 7 seconds to load. Cutting downloading speeds by half, even at the expense of page elements, can be quite beneficial for businesses.

That’s because a one-second delay in loading speeds costs your business about 7% of its conversion rate. To make matters worse, 61% of web users won’t return to your website if it loads too slowly for their liking.

On the internet, every second matters, so AMP definitely has its perks. The question we’re here to answer is, is it worth it?

How Does AMP Work?

The AMP framework only has one job: to optimize the mobile user experience. An AMP page from Google takes an average of half a second to load, the fastest page loading speeds ever witnessed on the internet.

The framework is comprised of three core components:

  • AMP HTML – Similar to conventional HTML but with watered-down performance to facilitate faster rendering.
  • AMP Cache – Tasked with serving cached AMP HTML pages after fetching and caching them. It is responsible for the improved page performance.
  • AMP JavaScript – Helps to render AMP HTML pages quickly by managing resource loading, which involves font triggering and implementing inline CSS.

These components perform collaboratively to load AMP pages faster than the average webpage.

Now that we’re familiar with what AMP is and how it works let’s start by listing its advantages. They’re not very many, but it’s impossible to question their importance.

Advantages Of AMP Pages

They Are Fast

If speed is what you want, you’ll find no better alternative. AMP pages are built to load quickly, and they do that spectacularly well.

Seven seconds is quite fast for the average webpage, but AMP is still twice as fast. Higher loading speeds mean better audience engagement, which can potentially lead to an increase in conversions.

Page speed is instrumental to user experience, so when it comes to giving your audience the best service, nothing beats using pages that load instantly.

They Enhance Search Performance

AMP is the brainchild of Google, and as expected, the search engine tends to favor them in SERPs.

That means that using AMP pages can give you better rankings on Google. AMP pages always rank higher than standard web pages, so even if your website is not on the first page, your AMP pages may appear at the top of the results.

That’s a visibility boost that any marketer would love to have, especially since it can drum up significantly more organic traffic.

They Improve Behavior Metrics

Search engines and ranking algorithms like Google and Alexa (respectively) often rely on behavior metrics when gauging the quality of a website. Behavior metrics include average time on page, pages viewed, and bounce rate.

Higher loading speeds can lower your bounce rate dramatically. Since pages load very quickly, your visitors are less likely to feel discontent with the user experience.

It also improves the likelihood of visitors going beyond the first page, especially if the second- and third-pages load just as quickly. That results in more time spent on your web pages and also increases the median number of pages viewed by your visitors.

They Increase Conversions

Seconds matter a great deal when it comes to securing conversions. Delays in loading will always send customers away. After all, when was the last time you waited patiently for a page to load for longer than a minute?

In the real world, a second might not have much significance, but on the internet, it can cost you more than 7 % of your conversion rate.

Lightning-fast pages will certainly improve your conversion rates simply because your users enjoy a seamless transition from search results to your AMP page and from page to page. It makes it easier for them to go down your entire sales funnel without interruptions.

They Can Put You Ahead Of Your Competition

Here’s the good news: if you deploy AMP pages before your competition, you’re already miles ahead of them. Unfortunately, it also means that if you’re the only one who’s yet to switch to AMP, you’re lagging behind—and it’s by quite a distance.

AMP pages guarantee you higher search rankings on Google, which continues to favor mobile-optimized sites over desktop sites. No matter how well optimized your website is, it will never compare to the speed and efficiency of AMP.

That means you can use AMP to get ahead of your competition and get ahead you will because your lightning-fast, mobile-optimized pages will always attract top spots on the search results.

Disadvantages Of AMP Pages

Faster full-page loading offers a bouquet of bonuses, one of which is reduced bounce rates. It makes sense because bounce rates only get higher with an increase in loading speeds.

However, AMP does force marketers into making some concessions as far as user experience is concerned. Here are its main disadvantages.

It Can Have A Negative Impact On User Experience

AMP pages load faster, but they’re also completely stripped down to elements that are capable of loading at such speeds. While you’ll get lower bounce rates because of this, you’ll also experience lower engagement levels as your web pages lose elements like maps, videos, and menus.

Worryingly, AMP pages also lack support for forms. That can put a damper on your lead generation activities.

Therefore, AMP pages are not always the best solution, especially for feature-rich websites that use multiple elements for leads and engagement.

It Requires Technical Skills To Implement

It’s not the most complicated thing in the world, but if you have no technical skills whatsoever, you’ll run into several hurdles while setting up AMP pages.

That’s not really a big deal because you can hire someone to do it for you. However, not everyone can afford that luxury, which is why AMP pages may not be the best option for everyone.

To be clear, setting up an AMP page is not the issue. What most marketers may find challenging is linking the pages to Google Analytics, which, ironically, doesn’t automatically synchronize with them.

To address this, developers have released several plugins to ease the process, especially for WordPress.

Why Should You Implement AMP?

It clearly has upsides and some significant downsides, so is AMP really worth it?

The best way to decide that is to look at how other businesses use AMP. The most popular uses of the technology include:

User Engagement

The allure of accessing information instantly drives users to AMP pages time and time again. Businesses leverage these speeds to maximize user engagement, therefore increasing leads and conversion rates.

Branding

AMP still gives you full control over your pages, only improving the speed and limiting some of its resources. That means you can retain your brand image while using mobile-optimized pages.

User Experience

AMP delivers the best user experience across the board. Its loading speeds are unrivaled, so your audience can access much more information in a shorter period.

SEO

SEO elements that affect rankings include loading speeds and mobile responsiveness. AMP pages excel on both fronts, and some businesses take advantage of that to improve their SEO activities.

Boosting ROI

Ultimately, a better user experience can affect your bottom line in a positive way. Customers can access information faster, so they’ll typically decide faster whether to purchase from you or not. In the end, your ROI can see a significant boost due to the increased engagement brought by AMP pages.

These are just a few ways in which businesses use AMP to grow, whether that’s by delivering content faster or minimizing bounce rates, and improving conversions. Your business can also benefit from AMP pages in the following ways:

  • Increased organic and search traffic.
  • Exclusive access to an AMP carousel, which features prominently at the top of mobile search results.
  • Reduced server load—AMP pages are cached in CDNs and therefore do not eat up a lot of server resources.
  • Increased engagement and conversions from mobile users.
  • It helps to generate revenue for blogs, websites, and ads.

The Most Important Function Of AMP Pages: Cutting Down Bounce Rates

Web users don’t like to wait, so the longer your pages take to load, the more traffic you’re sending away. AMP pages can be especially useful to businesses that suffer from high bounce rates.

That’s indicative of an on-page quality issue. On-page quality, which is sometimes determined by content and formatting, mostly depends on navigation elements and page speed.

If people aren’t even making it through your websites, the chances are good that your page speed is below average.

AMP pages can help in such a scenario, especially if you don’t deploy too many elements that must be stripped down to facilitate faster loading. The fewer elements your page has, the better suited it is for AMP.

Most importantly, AMP allows you to target mobile users specifically. That’s useful if a large portion of your traffic comes from mobile users.

If not, then AMP pages really isn’t worth it, especially since it does nothing to improve the experience of desktop users.

About THE AUTHOR

Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts, spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient for our strong client base.

Learn more about SparrowBoost