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Google AMP: To use or not to use?

Read Time: 3 Mins

“Are we there yet?” “Is it ready?” “Why is this taking so long?”

These are common questions asked every day, almost everywhere, by people of all ages. Why? We know what we want and what we want should appear before us instantaneously, or at least that’s what modern technology has taught us to believe. That’s because almost anything we could need sits in the palm of our hands at all times, directly on our mobile phones.

However, (and here’s the transition) slow website load times on our phones can be just as frustrating as waiting for a takeout order that’s late being delivered. In fact, 50% of visitors abandon a page if it doesn’t load in less than 5-6 seconds, and 3 out of 5 won’t return to that site again if that’s the case.

To remedy slow load times, many companies have looked to Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is a website publishing technology that lets you create web pages that load nearly instantly on mobile phones. Essentially, how it works is that a company will create a second version of its website that follows AMP’s project standards, and when people go to visit these pages via Google search results, Google serves up that content. Since Google caches and serves up this content, it loads extremely fast and makes mobile browsers happy. On average, sites using Google AMP load 43 percent faster on mobile devices, because they load in milliseconds rather than seconds. More importantly, faster load times lower the bounce rate and raise a company’s search ranking.

In addition to faster web page load-times, the other main benefits of Google AMP are:

  • More visibility. Google will rank these pages higher in search results due to Google AMP adoption and page load time on mobile, meaning that sites are more likely to appear above the fold.
  • Ease-of-use. Several platforms have built-in Google AMP functionality, including HubSpot and WordPress, which are among the most common. This makes it relatively easy to get up and running.

With that being said, Google AMP might not be for everyone because of the following drawbacks:

  • Minimal branding – The lack of branding tends to suit certain kinds of content.
  • No 3rd party data – Most 3rd party scripts are prohibited, so you know less about your visitors to these pages. This also makes it more difficult if a company tailors its online experience based on the user.
  • No advertisements – Google AMP may strip ads from content, removing revenue streams.

Consider each application and ask the following questions before adopting Google AMP:

  • What are we conveying?
  • Can we achieve the same goals using a different method?
  • Is this dynamic/personalized content that shouldn’t be cached?

Where Google AMP SHOULD be used.

  • Blogs. These are rarely updated, so Google cache doesn’t matter nearly as much in this case because the content is more important than the presentation.
  • High traffic sites. Busy sites have competitors, and AMP can be a great way to float above the fold in organic search.
  • Problem sites. For sites that suffer from slow-loading and poor SERP ranking, AMP can help boost these up and lower bounce rates.

Where Google AMP should NOT be used.

  • Frontend marketing sites. Branding and layout options will be limited with Google AMP. Instead, keep the brand consistent from desktop to mobile and everything in between.
  • Visitor analytics/ad source revenue. Advertising revenue is very difficult to track with Google AMP. If a company is using analytics to determine performance or ROI, AMP limits control considerably.
  • Dynamic/personalized sites. If a company is creating dynamic or frequently updated content that shouldn’t be cached, Google AMP is not a good idea.

The Iron Horse Insight:

Google AMP is still a work in progress, as such, we lean towards alternative ways to improve the performance of our sites, including static site generation, sufficient server resources, strong caching, optimized assets, and limiting 3rd party resources. However, after benchmarking mobile performance, if a site is clocking slow-loading times that are losing business opportunities, Google AMP should be considered, especially for companies that see high levels of traffic.

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