The pros and cons of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Are you patient?

You probably think you are, at least more patient than expecting information at your fingertips within seconds – but even if you think you have the patience of a saint – you’re probably wrong.

Dozens of studies into webpage load times show we’re actually extremely impatient – and in reality, most of us will abandon a site if the page we’re heading for takes more than 4 seconds to load.

So what’s the answer?

Well, Google and Twitter think it’s AMP – or, to give it’s full name, Accelerated Mobile Pages. An open source plug-in project that’s designed to create mobile pages that load ultra-quickly.

What could possibly be the downside of that? Well, a cruise ship doesn’t move as quickly as a speedboat – and if you ever wanted it to, you’d need to strip a lot of stuff out. The same is true of AMP. Along with a few members of the Think Zap team, who are some of Scotland’s leading web design talents. We’ll have a look at what it is – and the pros and cons of implementing accelerated mobile pages across your site.

What exactly is AMP?

In the most-simple terms, AMP is like ‘HTML lite’ – that’s to say, a stripped-down version of ordinary HTML – creating pages that load virtually instantly. It’s underpinned by three main components:

  • AMP HTML

A standard HTML that works by encompassing a variety of web components.

  • AMP JavaScript

Designed to manage all resource loading

  • AMP Caching

Designed to serve and validate AMP page

Mobile traffic now represents the majority of traffic that will hit your site – and AMP seemingly caters for these users perfectly, delivering just the most important content. Interestingly, it appears the AMP project was a direct response to the Facebook Instant and Apple News – although AMP is open source, removing the ties to any one platform.

So now let’s have a look at what industry experts are picking out as the pros and cons of AMP.

Pro – Search visibility

Over the last year or so, AMP results are popping up more and more in mobile search carousels – the Google specific content display in mobile browsers.

This is a double ‘pro’ when you look at the increasing evidence that Google seems keen to rank AMP content in ordinary search listings too. Page speed has grown in importance since mid-2016 – so AMP looks like it can only ever be an SEO benefit moving forward.

Con – AMP advertising is a bit of an unknown

AMP’s lightweight HTML framework pulls the plug on various advertising methods – popups in particular.

For people creating a revenue with any of these advertising methods – AMP might not look like the best option – although clearly this has to be weighed up against the positives; promising a question that’s going to be difficult to anticipate an answer to.

Some companies say they’re generating the same revenue from their AMP content as they were prior to implementation – so the question is, are you ready to take a leap of faith?

Pro – Improved CTRs

The click through rates that are being attributed to AMP stories seem extremely impressive – and going strong with 1 year+ results under their statistical belt.

Major sites are reporting 25%-30% increase in click-throughs from mobile search results – and adverts within AMP content are seeing a 65%+ increase in click throughs – something that’s not going to harm anyone’s conversion rates!

Con – Implementation

There seems to be some fairly universal groans from developers relating to the implementation of AMP – owing largely to it’s fairly restrictive framework.

The feeling is this – AMP isn’t the tool for you unless your site is already close to the top of the performance game anyway, especially true since there are a decent number of standard HTML gains that can be bagged more quickly and simply.

Get fast, then get AMP.

Pro – Greater traffic and revisits

We’ve already covered the fact that Google is placing AMP results higher in search listings and more prominently in carousel – but what’s more difficult to quantify is the impression that AMP content is having on users.

The stripped back feel of AMP stories makes it slightly more difficult to stand out from the crowd – although when a site does, you can expect traffic to keep coming back, no doubt impressed by the layout and speedy delivery time.

Depending on the case-studies you read, you can witness companies seeing increases of somewhere between 23% and 44% in new monthly visitors – with around 73% increase in monthly visitors returning shortly thereafter.

The message? Readers are voting with their feet – and they like AMP.

Pro – You get a Google content delivery network

A big factor in the delivery speed of AMP content relates to the fact that Google caches the content – and as a result, you can modify your URL so that the content is dished up directly from the cache.

This is a bonus if you’re paying for a content delivery network elsewhere and you can be certain that’s Google’s is always going to be up there with the best.

Con – Somewhat limited functionality

In its first incarnation there were serious HTML gaps in what was possible on an accelerated mobile page – with a notable exception being around forms. Now, that’s developing slightly and there are tools that can be integrated to enable some basic patches over the holes – but we’re a long way from complex product pages.

It’s not just visitor page interaction that’s lacking either – if you’re keen on in depth metrics from your page, you’re going to want to make sure AMP fits the bill before you invest too much time or effort making it happen.

Pro – An increasing number of implementation tools

Now, it’s clear the implementation niggles that developers have been having with the AMP plug in is something that’s occurring across the board – evident because new tools are being developed to make the process somewhat easier.

From testing tools to WordPress plugins – there are new resources being developed all the time to support your move to AMP.

What it all boils down to…

Ultimately, AMP is a choice – is the increased page delivery speed going to bolster your conversions by an amount that warrants venturing into new territory? And importantly, are you doing enough to bolster page speed already – without the big chunk of work that’s going to come when you try to take advantage of AMP?

At this stage, AMP isn’t a foregone conclusion for your site – instead, it’s a big bunch of questions that you need to ask to find your way forward…

The Impact Of Tech On Your Business

Technology has far become the way of the world we live in now. You can barely walk down a high street without someone with their face glued to their phone. It is ever changing. And it is important to keep your small business up to date with these changes. I get it. Having a small business, you are going to be run off your feet. However, investing some of your crucial time into what technology has to offer can go a long way. Even if you are not technologically savvy, small changes can pay off in the long run, and do your business wonders.

Whatever the question, technology will most likely be your answer. Believe it or not, some small businesses out there still do not have websites. Perhaps they are stuck in their ways, but almost half of small businesses say they don’t need a website.

But now is the time to change that. We live in a completely different world, and it’s time for small businesses to adapt. Think about it, around 7 billion people in the world, at least 6 billion of them probably have at least one mobile device, by moving online, even if you reach just a small percentage of that, your business will benefit.

The evolution of eCommerce

Start off with an E-commerce site. This is pretty much essential if you want your business to succeed. No matter the size of your company, you could be a small local business selling online, or someone like Reid Brothers UK where they sell worldwide . If you don’t, your potential customers will go elsewhere, end of story. Having an online store can help your business grow. People now prefer buying online to save them leaving the house. Why go walk down a cold, wet high street, when you can order something from the comfort of your own home. Ecommerce sales are expected to double by 2020, so if you have not already, now is the time. If you are a unique business, take advantage of it, especially if you cannot get your product on the high street.

The Mobile Revolution

Making your website mobile friendly is just as important as having one. Whatever your business does or sells, having a responsive website is essential. This allows your usual desktop page to adapt to mobile, tablet or desktop, meaning it can adjust to a screen of any size and without losing any effect.

Not having this could lose you major points. Again, like before it could lead potential customers elsewhere. Simple as that. All is fair and well if you are at your desktop, but if your potential clients are on the go, you need to adapt to support this. Another positive is by having a responsive site you are more likely to rank higher on some search engines.

The Rise Of Social Media For Business

Social media is pretty much a given in this day and age, but it is how you use it to your advantage which matters most. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram, it is a great way to promote your business and what you have to offer. As much as it helps inform the latest news in your business, you can also use it to sell.

More than 2 million people in the world have at least one social media account, and you can reach a number of them in various ways. You can use the paid advertising services, to optimise adverts to reach a desired audience, or Facebook and Instagram have specific features which let you purchase products without having to leave the app. Facebook’s shop now button allows you to offer your products on your page, making an easy to buy functionality for customers to buy straight away.

The Power Of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is also an option. Social media has skyrocketed for businesses over the last few years. Influencers such as bloggers, YouTubers, or celebrities that appear on reality TV shows cash in by advertising products to their large followings on their channels. Sometimes they team up with a brand or company to help sell products online. As they have a larger following, they are guaranteed to reach more people, getting into areas you didn’t think was possible for your business.

The Growth Of Marketing Tools

Customers react with companies in different ways. But it is how you connect with the vast age groups. Marketing and communication will help meet the demands of your customers. Start a blog. Blogs create original content and provide value to your customers. Perhaps if you are a load securing company, a how to apply stainless steel banding blog would benefit, or if you are in retail, an insight into what the newest trends for A/W would help. Tip: writing a blog also boosts your SEO. Video marketing. Or even better, live video marketing. Whether it be an edit from a YouTube tutorial or broadcasting live from a company event, it puts your customers right there in the middle of the action, while also encouraging reaction.

Does Email Marketing Still Have a Place?

Email marketing is another option. Collecting email addresses of your current customers can fuel an audience for an email marketing campaign. Believe it or not, email marketing is one of the best ways to gain return on investment for your business. Relating to the point from above, email campaigns must be accessible from mobile as well as desktop. Most people access their emails from their phone, so it is important that they get the full effect. A benefit, also, is that you can target specific groups of customers. So if you have customers in different markets, you can tailor newsletters to suit different sectors, ensuring each email is of importance.

Its All About Customer Service!

Customer service is still important. Technology allows you to keep up with your customers. Through your website you could use the option of a live chat. This allows a member of staff to be on the receiving end for any queries potential customers may have. It solves questions quick and fast, and being live it allows the customer to get the answer in real time, gaining a quick solution.

Popular in 2017 are the AI Chat Bots. Making that change in communication, they are automated robots which learn data, content and products from your company and can chat to your customers in real time. They can provide information such as delivery enquiries or can help find products. It is set up as an automatic chat machine through messenger apps such as Facebook or text message.

Technology is forever changing, and it can definitely help move your small business forward. Although there are still concerns such as cyber security, the benefits of growth will far outweigh. Some of these ideas may not be brand new to you, but it is worth a think about if you have not already to improve your business.