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What is Google AMP and How Does it Impact Search Marketing

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open-source web framework spearheaded by Google to help pages load faster on mobile. The project began in 2015 and mobile users can recognize pages with AMP with a lightning bolt in Google’s search results. AMP pages load almost instantly to help brands retain viewers as research has shown that 53 percent of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load.

Since 2015, AMP adoption has increased and in March 2017, Asian search engines Yahoo Japan, Baidu, and Sogou adopted a framework called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) changing the way search results are shown to over a billion users in Asia. What does AMP mean for Asian brands using search engine marketing to be discovered?

This post will cover how AMP works, its applications and limitations for businesses in Asia that may be considering an AMP version of their website as part of the digital marketing strategy.

 

Why Google AMP Matters to Search Marketing

 

google amp search engine marketing

Google cares immensely about it’s search user experience and it tries to serve search engine results that are valuable to users, ones that deliver relevant information in a convenient and efficient fashion. In other words, providing good content coupled with a great browsing and online experience is a key requirement for search marketing and SEO.

Some readers may be aware that Google announced that starting July 2018, pagespeed would become a factor in search ranking. In addition, Google has introduced mobile-first indexing to preference sites that are optimized for mobile browsing. AMP pages may improve users’ online browsing experiences by reportedly being 4x faster to load while using 10x less data, which fulfills the additional indexing factors that Google has introduced. Though Google seems to be preferencing websites with AMP, is the additional investment in AMP worthwhile for SEO?


How AMP Works


Unlike mobile responsive pages that modify the look of a single site based on screen size, AMP pages are separate from the original website and need to be added. Sites with AMP are automatically pre-fetched (temporarily stored) by Google’s Search Console in the background even before a user clicks on the page. When users click, they are opening a pre-downloaded page, which means they do not have to wait for load time.

AMP acts as a trimmed down version of a website to optimize content for mobile screens across multiple platforms. It is compatible with most browsers and has integrations with platforms such as WordPress for blogging as well as BigCommerce and Shopify for ecommerce. Two of the most common critiques are limitations on branding (due to Javascript limitations and lean CSS) and essential business integrations (APIs and apps). Businesses need to consider the type of content their website has, how site visitors engage the site, and essential functions before deciding whether to adopt AMP or responsive mobile designs to attract and retain visitors.

Considerations for AMP

Adopting the AMP framework will likely speed up your Web content serving, especially if your current website, or landing pages are not performance optimized. There may be some tradeoffs to adopting AMP though, as one reason to keep a responsive site may be due to branding and design limitations for building a fully compliant AMP website or web pages. From a functional perspective, users should test their page speed on Google to see the difference between a responsive site and an AMP site loading on a mobile phone. Content that is displayed quickly for readers even when internet connection is unstable improves a page’s search ranking for the majority of users who now browse on mobile.

Brands with online stores can also use AMP, but need to be aware of limitations and workarounds. Merchants using BigCommerce have native AMP support and Shopify merchants can use AMP integrations via third party apps to create an AMP site efficiently.

AMP may not support all the features of a desktop ecommerce website and sometimes may not handle dynamic data as smoothly. However, AMP for ecommerce includes supporting features like a product gallery, add to cart, star ratings, and comments and reviews. In most cases, an online store adopting AMP will require customizations from an engineering team. As of the time of writing, AMP does not have features such as support for online payment checkouts such as Paypal Express, Amazon Payments, and Apple Pay. Companies with development teams can refer to the AMP Project’s Ecommerce Getting Started guide.

 

Google AMP Cases

After adopting AMP, 80% of publishers stated they had higher viewability rates. Below are two examples of how AMP can be applied examples of companies that have successfully used AMP.

 

Publishing
google amp news pages

Many digital media platforms have already adopted accelerated mobile pages, which now also get featured in Google’s search results with images. According to State of Digital’s analysis of traffic data, AMP increased impressions from 120 million to 325 million and clicks from 6 million to 16 million.

 

Ecommerce

Image Source: AMP Project

Merchology is an ecommerce store that allows customers to easily put logos onto clothing. They worked with a marketing agency to A/B test AdWords that ran to their standard responsive mobile pages and to 8 new AMP pages. The AMP pages preserved the brand identity by including the logo in the sticky header and customizing the button colors.  It was found that there was a 286% faster load time for AMP pages, resulting in 19% more pages per session and a 39% increase in conversion rate.

 

Where Google AMP is Headed

Image Source: AMP Project

The AMP Project is pushing for more and more features that are meant to make a faster, more accessible web for mobile users. One new exciting product is AMP Stories, which helps storytellers narrate visual content.

Google has also introduced AMP for E-mail, which will allow marketers to create more dynamic content that can be embedded into an e-mail. Imagine that users can browse through an image gallery and click on share buttons right in their e-mail browser rather than being redirected to another page. AMP for E-mail will also support Gmail in its net phase.

 

Summary of Google AMP considerations for Asia

Google’s AMP project originally began by supporting static content to allow mobile users to information, such as news, more conveniently even without fast data connection. Now, AMP is moving towards offering this same seamless experience for dynamic content on mobile by offering more support for ecommerce and media. As AMP content needs to be created separately, merchants in Hong Kong and Asia can consider testing a few individual products or pages to see if there is a boost in Google search rankings and general SEO.

Based in Hong Kong, Wave Commerce specializes in serving the unique technology and marketing needs of clients with strategic ecommerce businesses. Our team has worked with emerging brands as well as enterprise clients and built technology used by thousands of online shops worldwide. Also try out our product, S Loyalty, one of Shopify’s most popular loyalty programs.


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At Wave Commerce, we’re proud to have worked with and grown with great clients, including both well-established brands with an international presence, and those local to the Hong Kong market. We value multi-year relationships and helping our clients drive towards long-term, sustainable growth.