Google AMPs: The Future for Mobile Ecommerce?
Google AMPs for Ecommerce Sites
According to research by Google and Nielsen, 3 out of 4 mobile searches result in follow-up actions such as visiting a retailer’s website, visiting a brick-and-mortar, or completing a conversion.
However, if your mobile site speed is slow, you could be losing potential customers.
“A slow site can have big impacts on SEO rankings. From a paid search angle, a slow mobile site could have a negative influence on bounce rate,” says Erick Smith, Lead Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy.
Speaking of bounce, rate, the study showed 29% of smartphone users would “immediately switch to another site or app” if it didn’t fit their needs in the moment, and 70% would bounce due to slow load times.
If there’s one thing we know about Google, it’s that Google cares about that 70%. That’s why Google created the”Accelerated Mobile Pages” (AMP) project.
Here’s what you need to know about AMP and the potential effects on ecommerce.
What is Google’s AMP Project?
Accelerated Mobile Pages—lightweight mobile pages with near-instant load times—are built with AMP HTML open source code. AMPs have been compared to Facebook Instant Articles for their clean design.
Clean lines in the mobile SERP, a near-instant load time, and even a carousel of featured posts at the top—preeeeetty. The carousel at the top, by the way, looks a lot like Google’s sponsored post carousels (see below):
Back to the BBC. Once we click into the first AMP post, we noticed something strange—zero ads, even after scrolling all the way down.
Overall, there’s a lack of advertisers adopting AMP, too. Since the release of AMPs in October 2015, platforms such as The New York Times and Globo have been leading the way. Currently, most of the North American sites currently using AMP are news-based publishers:
- Google News
- CBS News
- Time Inc.
- The New York Post
See the comprehensive list of AMP users here.
That’s not to say there aren’t any ecommerce AMP users.
The most recent adopter of AMPs is a little site called eBay. Here’s an example of an eBay AMP search result:
Want to test an AMP page yourself? Check out this link to one of Google’s AMP demos on your smartphone.
As of June 30, eBay claimed about 8 million “AMP-based browser nodes”. However, it’s important to note eBay isn’t just relying on AMP pages; they’re also overhauling their site pages for UX and UI across the board.
Now, they’re partnering with Google (alongside other AMP Project partners) to create a better eCommerce AMPs. Upcoming features include smart buttons such as “Add to Cart”, A/B Testing, and even Advanced Tracking features.
All of these features bode well for AMPs + eCommerce mobile sites in the future, but right now, there are still some pros and cons to weigh before jumping in.
Pros and Cons of Google AMPs for Online Retailers
Wondering if you should employ Google AMPs on your ecommerce site? Here are some of the pros and cons for online retailers right now based on Google AMPs FAQ.
Pros of Accelerated Mobile Pages for Ecommerce Sites
- A potential increase in mobile site traffic
- A potential decrease in bounce rate (due to faster loading times)
- A potential increase in conversions (assuming your site UX and path to purchase is solid)
Cons of Accelerated Mobile Pages for Ecommerce Sites
- AMPs only served on mobile–if your mobile site doesn’t see a lot of traffic, you won’t see huge results
- Difficult to implement AMP code
- AMP files available to be crawled and cached by 3rd parties
- Traditional ads slow to load on AMP pages (GDN)
- A lack of pop-ups or check boxes
- Vendor technology spotty within AMPs
- Weaker analytics insights on AMPs
- AMPs require time and expertise to implement
- Ecommerce sites on the Google Display Network may see lowered impressions on AMP pages on partner sites
These two Google quotes give us reason to believe several of these cons will be addressed in the near future:
Regarding a lack of ads support:
UPDATE: Doubleclick by Google just announced AMP for Ads. All of our dreams have come true.
According to VentureBeat, “There is early code for an implementation of AMP-powered ads from Google’s AdSense ad network, and the plan is to also add support for Google’s DoubleClick ad exchange.”
More features and functionality will be added over the coming weeks, including functional support for subscription models as well as vendor support for advertising functionality.
Regarding a lack of pop-ups and other valuable conversion features:
“We also want to promote enhanced distribution so that publishers can take advantage of the open web’s potential for their content to appear everywhere quickly – across all platforms and apps – which can lead to more revenue via ads and subscriptions.” [emphasis mine]
Currently, AMPs don’t directly affect your site ranking, so it’s not crucial to jump aboard in the early phases of the program.
If you do, you may lose some converting features on AMPs, Smith points out.
“Cutting down on too many features could have a negative usability consequence. As with anything web dev, usability should be the primary goal. Use condensing code to speed up the page, but the key is to keep from sacrificing the form and function of the site.”
At this point, you may be wondering why you’d need AMPs if you have a mobile-responsive site. Glad you asked.
How are Google AMPs Different Than a RWD?
If you recently updated your site (especially post-Google’s Mobilegeddon update) to a Responsive Web Design (RWD), you should know RWD differs from AMP in a few key ways.
“With AMPs, you’re running a double instance of your website—mobile and non-mobile. They would require doing double the work. Responsive Web Design, on the other hand, has a single code structure and can be manipulated to fit any desired screen width. It’s not served up based on device type,” says Smith.
Bottom line? AMPs are not a replacement for a quality responsive site redesign.
“If somebody didn’t want to go through a full-blown re-development then yes, AMPs would be a better solution than RWD. However, I’d strongly push any of my clients to use RWD if they’re considering a website redesign or redevelopment” says Smith.
Employ Google AMPs on Your Ecommerce Site
Before you do anything involving AMPs, we recommend you test your mobile site speed and take care of any outstanding issues that could be holding back site conversions.
As Smith points out, “Making the decision to change the entire code structure and pivot to AMP will probably be costly. So business should try and tackle the issues that pop up using their existing code. If there are too many issues, then investigate AMP.”
Learn more about mobile-friendly sites on CPC Strategy:
- How to Rank for Google’s New Mobile-Friendliness and App Index
- Mobile Site Emulator Testing Available in Google Chrome
For more on AMPs, email Leanna@cpcstrategy.com