We first wrote about the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project back after it’s initial introduction in October 2015 and since then we’ve covered in further detail what AMP is, as well as recent updates in July 2016. Over the past year, 650,000 different domains have become AMP enabled – which means 150 million AMP pages have been added to Google’s index (with more than 4 million new pages being added each week). Since 22nd August 2016, certain aspects of ecommerce sites can now become AMP, such as product and category pages, and here I will be discussing the benefits of AMP for ecommerce SEO, and any potential limitations.
Google, AMP & The Mobile Experience
According to Google DoubleClick’s “The need for mobile speed” report in September 2016, most consumers expect mobile pages to load in 2 to 3 seconds and 47% of consumers will abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Google’s emphasis on AMP makes sense as it fits in with their overall focus on the mobile experience. Google recently removed their “mobile friendly” label in the SERPs. This move was not due to them no longer focusing on mobile but because after two years, mobile friendly pages have become standard for websites, making the label obsolete.
This doesn’t mean, though, that all sites are now providing a seamless mobile experience, and Google’s next step in their mission to create a fast, smooth and mobile-centric web is the introduction of ecommerce sites to the AMP project.
Ultimately, Google is looking to further overhaul to the mobile shopping experience – and AMP provides a way of stripping back the HTML on websites, resulting in fast loading times, and easy transitions between products.
But what does the availability of AMP for ecommerce actually mean for online retailers? How easy is it to implement? Is it worthwhile? What are the benefits and drawbacks?
The Benefits of AMP for Ecommerce
The key benefits of AMP for ecommerce are fairly obvious but potentially hugely significant for retailers. Google says that “AMP is a natural fit for ecommerce because AMP makes webpages fast, and fast pages help with purchase conversions.” AMP pages on ecommerce sites could:
- Improve the user experience
- Increase conversion rates due to improved page load speeds
- With faster load times, users are more likely to continue engaging with your website (quicker sites see lower bounce rates, increased length of time on site and higher conversion rates)
- The lightning bolt tag displayed alongside results could lead to higher click-through rates as users realise more and more that they correspond to quicker loading speeds
- Google’s algorithm favours faster pages, therefore better load times could improve your site’s rankings
Overall, AMP will allow retailers to cater better for a growing mobile audience.
An example of an AMP home page or category page.
What Are the Potential Limitations or Drawbacks of AMP for Ecommerce?
- Analytics could be an issue – although amp-analytics can be utilised on many platforms, there’s still a fair amount to be developed. Ebay have written a blog post on some of the potential complexities that is worth a read
- It is currently being recommended by Google Analytics that website owners should set up a separate property for AMP measurement and only certain data can be collected which could limit ecommerce sites. According to Google’s AMP roadmap “support for ecommerce analytics” is currently in the planning and design phase (see screenshot below)
- There is also the matter of potential duplicate content issues – but site owners should be able to overcome this by using correct tagging of pages and importantly ensuring that the AMP page contains a rel=canonical tag that references the standard (i.e. HTML) version of the page
Who Is Currently Adopting AMP?
Although AMP pages aren’t the most adaptable or customisable at this stage, a lot of work is being done by larger retailers such as Ebay who have partnered with Google to test features, such as advanced tracking, so we should see further developments in the near future. You can check out the proposed timeline with upcoming changes on the roadmap.
Ebay has also written an interesting blog on their experience with AMP so far. In particular they state that there are “certain UI components and behaviors that we were not able to achieve in the AMP version due to restrictions. Some of these components are eCommerce-specific.”
What Do Online Retailers Need to Do Now?
Whether an ecommerce site should dive in and start creating AMP versions of their pages really does depend on each individual website, and the pros and cons need to be weighed up by each business. The importance of page speed compared to maintaining complex functionality is something that retailers need to consider.
Obviously, manually creating AMP pages could be a huge task, especially for larger ecommerce sites. However, there are CMS plugins available for many ecommerce platforms such as Magento that can help to speed up the process.
You could also consider developing a small number of AMP pages initially as a test, and comparing results with those of non-AMP pages.
We would also recommend being on alert for any of your main competitors implementing AMP.
At the moment, there are unfortunately no significant case studies available which highlight the effectiveness of using AMP for ecommerce sites. Google has published some case studies for publishers, so we may see them promoting AMP for ecommerce in a similar way by publishing case studies in the future too.
What we do know is that AMP provides a great opportunity to provide a better mobile experience, which could potentially increase conversion rates. Implementing AMP may not be a straightforward process, but as an open-source initiative there is a lot of advice and best practice guidance to help developers.
How To Get Started
Google has created several resources to help you build your AMP enabled pages:
- The AMP Project website
- Google Search guidelines for AMP pages
- AMP Webmaster Help Forum
- Getting Started Blog Post
- Also make sure you check Google Search Console for any AMP-related messages for further information
AMP is likely to become an industry standard not just for news publishers but for ecommerce sites as well as other industries moving forward. While there are certainly limitations currently, now is the time to get ahead of the game and start thinking about your strategy.