The InVue SEO and Development teams are fresh back from Google’s AMP Roadshow in Toronto, where we learned a ton that we’ll be looking to put into practice as soon as we can.
AMP, if you’re not familiar with it, stands for “Accelerated Mobile Pages.” If you’ve ever clicked on a Google search result with a little lightning bolt next to it, you’ve viewed an AMP page.
Some AMP results in the wild on Google for the search “kyrie iving.”
The Roadshow is Google’s attempt to promote the idea of “AMP as canonical.” Most people think of AMP as an added bonus, something you generate and attach to your already-existing site to optimize for mobile traffic. As AMP has evolved, though, it has grown into a technology that can be used to build entire websites that are insanely fast to load and high-performing on any device.
In other words, Google doesn’t want AMP to be something you think of after the fact. They want it to be your starting point. After seeing AMP in action at the Roadshow, that approach seems far more viable than any of us would have guessed.
Here are our team’s takes:
AMP Ads: Disrupting A Billion Dollar Industry
As an agency, one of the more interesting routes AMP is headed down is in advertising. Not only are they trying to turn most landing pages into AMP pages, they’re trying to rewrite the ad landscape on the publisher end. Their selling point is the increased revenue from faster loading ads and a better user experience, which on the surface makes sense. The drawback for publishers are similar to the drawbacks of AMP in general – live in Google’s world and play by Google’s rules. Many ad formats are blocked due to a poor user experience (e.g. the ads that pop up in the middle of your browsing experience), and using AMP ads requires publishers to change the way their ads are embedded onto a site. In the agency world, seemingly minor changes can take months to deploy, and these are more than minor changes.
That being said, we will most likely see an increase in the adoption of AMP ads throughout the web. It’s hard to argue against less intrusive, faster loading ads when discussing the overall UX on the web. And even if secretly, publishers and agencies may push to install AMP ads in the hope that they see an increase in impressions/exposure from Google just as a gift for using their product. With companies like Cloudfare, Celtra, and Adobe already adopting AMP into their technology platforms, it may be time to at least entertain the thought of jumping on the bandwagon.
Transforming Mobile Conversion from “Bonus” to “Painless”
I think the potential ramifications AMP could have on eCommerce stores is immense and undervalued. There’s widespread consensus that eCommerce conversions are lower on mobile devices than their desktop counterparts. As a result, retailers and marketers alike have relinquished efforts to improve mobile conversion rate and instead held out hope that cross-device conversions will help them navigate through the mobile revolution.
With AMP’s immense focus on performance and ease of use, it stands poised to change all of this. Brands that adopt and utilize this framework for their eCommerce solutions position themselves to take advantage of a platform that is optimized for conversion. In a world where an estimated 60% of searches are now done on mobile, encouraging mobile transactions instead of viewing them as a bonus can help improve sales, even while the user is on the go.
Trading Responsive Flexibility for AMP Performance
From a designer’s perspective, AMP has the ability to create nice user interaction and animations using minimal design and code, but you’re sacrificing some creativity in order to focus on content and lightning-fast page speed for mobile devices. Because certain design aspects for AMP pages are stripped out, the challenge will be to create mobile designs with AMP that are just as stunning as responsive web designs. Ensuring that an AMP page incorporates enough elements from the client’s brand and is designed strategically enough to promote conversion won’t always be easy. With responsive design, I primarily think about flexibility. With AMP, we’ll need to focus more on speed, better user experiences and intuitive interactions, all of which add up to a better mobile experience for the user (and more sales for our clients).
AMP = Performance = Conversions
AMP has the potential to make a significant impact in eCommerce. I’ve been in the field as an SEO consultant for a while now and I’ve always felt that eCommerce sites offer either a bad, or terrible user experience more often than any other type of site. The irony is that, in eCommerce, a great user experience directly affects their bottom line more than any other type of site. Users are delicate when they’re in your sales funnel and a slow loading page can mean the difference between a sale and an exit. Integrating AMP from category pages all the way to checkout could have a huge impact on revenue for any eCommerce site while continuing to make the mobile web a more user-friendly place.
AMP: a Transitively Open Standard
As a developer and active member of the open source community, I have a difficult time accepting restrictive standards. Open source was born out of frustration from prohibitive, proprietary standards, which marginalized the freedom developers had over the tools they could use and the software they could build. In 2017, this sentiment is frequently echoed in the development community when speaking about AMP. Many developers feel as though AMP has too many restrictions and those restrictions only serve to benefit Google at their expense. While I maintain reservations over certain AMP restrictions, I do believe AMP is genuine and serves as a much-needed step in the right direction.
Developers are notoriously bad at conceptualizing how their code impacts a user. As someone who scales the entire stack, I’ve learned a lot about developer behaviors and habits. One habit I’ve found quite perplexing is how often frontend developers include tools in their builds that they never use. With the advent of frontend package managers like Bower and Webpack, these behaviors are reinforced even further. This exact scenario is what makes AMP an important standard. By taking a performance-based approach to the frontend, validated AMP pages sacrifice little in terms of design but make immense strides in performance. Consequently, users of all devices and bandwidths are provided a better experience and, in turn, are more likely to convert.
If you’d like to check out the Roadshow yourself, check out the AMP Roadshow site and see if they’ll be travelling anywhere near you anytime soon.