AMP for eCommerce, all the keys

Miguel Ángel Culiáñez

Written by Miguel Ángel Culiáñez

Any initiative that sees the light of day from Google’s headquarters should be taken very seriously. You never know how far any idea from the tech giant can go. In fact, this could be the case for three acronyms whose importance is growing in professional circles linked to web development, SEO and online marketing in general. It is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

What does AMP mean?

Before answering what impact the AMP concept can have on your eCommerce, let’s be clear about what we are talking about when we refer to AMP.

From our blog we have already previously reported on what is the AMP concept through the post written by José E. Vicente (Head of Search Marketing at Human Level), whose title is What AMP is: Accelerated Mobile Pages. However, it is interesting to provide a few more insights into the origins of AMP.

It is no longer enough for the design to adapt to mobiles or tablets, there must also be a much shorter loading time.

AMP arises in the current context in which Google is committed to the “mobile first” philosophy.. In short: as more and more users are using mobile devices to surf the Internet, the experience offered by websites through these devices must be better and better in every way… Well, within this scenario, the responsive design seems to be already insufficient in Google’s eyes. It is no longer enough for the design to adapt to mobiles or tablets, there must also be a much shorter loading time compared to the desktop version of the same site.

In this regard, Google began to make a move towards the beginning of 2016, taking the lead in a change in the parameters established in terms of web programming and initially benefiting media websites. In fact, the Mountain View companies are accompanied in this interesting journey by major European media outlets, with all the joint efforts coming under the umbrella of the so-called Digital News Initiative (DNI).

It should be noted that AMP is an open source project, so any web programmer could contribute to the evolution of the initiative.

All the work carried out to date has resulted in a series of new programming conventions aimed at achieving websites whose loading time on mobile devices is more than significantly shortened. The concept coined to give name to this type of programming is AMP or, in English, accelerated pages for mobiles.

What benefits can AMP bring to an eCommerce?

Although AMP originated as a project oriented towards media websites and blogs, allowing the user to access information from mobile devices at a faster speed, the truth is that its potential has not taken long to be exploited in other areas. This would be the case of e-commerce.

The main advantages that AMP can bring to an eCommerce would be the following:

Better web positioning linked to shorter loading time

We must consider that, although AMP is not in itself a factor among the more than 200 that the Google algorithm takes into account when establishing the positioning of a website, the truth is that it does indirectly help to achieve better positions, since by applying the AMP programming technique, we will have optimized the loading time on mobile devices, which in itself is a direct optimization criterion.

Increased conversions and reduced bounce rates

At the same time, the increase the likelihood that our bounce rate will decrease. The loading time is shorter, since it favors the user’s satisfaction and experience, and this may encourage the user to continue browsing our website, enjoying the content of pages other than the destination page at a high speed. In the end, as always, taking care of Google means taking care of the user.

The impact of this greater user satisfaction derived from a higher loading speed translates, therefore, into an increase in the probability that the user ends up becoming a customer of our online store.

Using AMP landings for AdWords campaigns

There are many managers and owners of online stores that have assimilated the growing importance of promoting their eCommerce to increase the bottom line. The use of any of the Google AdWords variants plays a very relevant role in this regard.

By using AMP to generate the landings linked to our ads in AdWords networks we will be attracting the potential buyer to a mobile optimized page, with a much slower loading speed for users accessing from such devices and offering a more satisfactory experience.

In other words, AMP will have helped make our campaigns a little more optimized and our AdWords investment a little more profitable.

Increased visibility among search results

AMP for eCommerceIn the case of media, articles from pages developed under the AMP technique are displayed among Google search results within the carousel called “.Top Stories“(provided that the search term leads to the appearance of this element among the results), and the meta-description is distinctively accompanied by a lightning bolt icon. This helps to give greater visibility among the results to these articles, increasing the chances of attracting traffic.

Well, the implication on eCommerce is identical, since if the access to one of the product cards of our online store is highlighted with the aforementioned icon we will be increasing the chances of attracting the attention of the potential buyer with respect to the rest of the results offered by the search engine.

All advantages?

No, the truth is that AMP applied to e-commerce also adds certain handicaps that must be taken into account before embarking on the application of AMP programming in our online store:

Design limitation

AMP implies being willing to assume design restrictions in favor of loading speed from mobile devices. In fact, the operation of this programming technique entails significant limitations in the HTML tag markup, since it is now applied to what has become known as AMP HTML. This is a special markup that significantly restricts many of the aspects of the code that affect structure and design.

On the other hand, an order of priority is established between elements when loading the page, showing text first and relegating images and other graphic resources to a second level.

In fact, applying AMP implies losing visual richness in our content in favor of the information itself in text format. This can be considered as a negative element, and there are many website managers who find it very annoying to lose an attractive look&feel in exchange for a faster site.

Incipient (but rapid) progress

Although the AMP project has a solid global backing, and many large companies and developers have already joined (to a greater or lesser extent) the initiative, the truth is that it is a technique that is still evolving. This means that not all development professionals are fully familiar with AMP and it is difficult to locate suitably qualified personnel to implement it.

However, the technological world is advancing by leaps and bounds. Proof of this is the increasingly easy access to the creation of websites with online sales functionalities thanks to open source CMS(Content Management System) platforms such as WordPress, PrestaShop or Magento. In relation to this, AMP has not taken long to be implemented with plugins in a simple way in WordPress, and it is possible to venture that the offer of similar extensions will increase through the different existing platforms.

Added costs

Undoubtedly, the investment to be made must be another factor to consider. Spending hours to adapt the programming of our website to AMP will involve hours of work. Whether it is an internal work or we have to resort to external developers, taking the step will entail having a clear idea of the investment to be made.

In the case that the online store is born from scratch and we want to bet on custom development, the question will be whether to invest from the beginning in AMP programming or leave it for later. Of course, when requesting a technical and economic proposal for web development, it would be highly advisable to consult the agencies contemplated the additional price breakdown for AMP implementation with respect to the investment to be made following only the usual web development parameters.

As mentioned in the previous point, we can resort to a much lower cost if our site has been created under an open source CMS platform and not under custom web development through the use of plugins.

Collateral damage in online advertising

AMP can have a detrimental side if we place ourselves in the role of advertiser. This would be the case if we are running Adwords campaigns to promote our store through the display network or other affiliation channels on certain sites of our interest, blogs, etc.

The reason is that, if these websites on which we want to place our advertising are AMP, when the user accesses them, they will first be shown the content of that news site or blog, and secondly the ads (among which we want ours to be included). This prioritization established through the AMP technique will make our advertising message less visible.

Should I apply the AMP programming technique to my online store?

The truth is that it is the manager of each eCommerce who must weigh the pros and cons, but as noted at the beginning of the article, when Google is at the forefront of any initiative, it must be taken into account for the future.

In this sense, it is worth asking whether Google could introduce in the future some modification in its algorithm that would turn AMP programming into a web positioning criterion by itself. All indications are that such a move by the technology giant could only be accompanied by a standardization that would overcome many of the disadvantages mentioned above and thus facilitate access to this type of programming.

On the other hand, it is always difficult to make predictions about the future of technology, but could there also be a leap in the evolution of mobile technology by a different route that speeds up loading times to the point of making AMP programming unnecessary?

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Miguel Ángel Culiáñez
Miguel Ángel Culiáñez
Former responsible for business development at Human Level. Graduated in Business Science and Advertising and Public Relations. Specialist in marketing and e-commerce.

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