The Pros and Cons of Google AMP

July 10, 2018

Learn how Google AMPs work and their pros and cons. Decide whether AMP, native apps, or Progressive Web Apps are right for your business.

In my previous articles, “The Pros and Cons of Native Apps,” and “The Pros and Cons of Progressive Web Apps,” I talked about the many benefits and challenges of native apps and PWAs.

Now, we will discuss the third emerging technology that is creating a buzz in the tech industry – Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs).

I will also compare the three technologies to help you decide which one is right for your business.

What Is Google AMP?

AMP is an open source technology by Google. It provides the users with a faster-loading mobile website experience.

AMP pages are identified with a lightning bolt symbol on the top right corner of the featured articles.

Google AMP example

AMP is specially designed for consumption of content through “reading” and does not have any interactive components.

How Google AMP Works

The average page-loading time of an AMP is less than one second. This is why AMP has been widely adopted; more than 900,000 domains have published more than 2 billion AMP pages.

An AMP consists of AMP HTML, Google AMP Cache, and AMP JS library – the mechanism of their fast loading times.

AMP HTML

AMP consists of normal HTML with some restrictions and added specialized tags.

HTML is standard HTML that incorporates custom AMP properties. This means that some of the standard tags present in the AMP HTML are switched with custom tags that synchronize well with other AMP components.

AMP Javascript (JS) Library

When a web page loads, the browser creates a Document Object Model of the page, also known as DOM, the connection between web pages and programming language.

A JavaScript uses the DOM to access the HTML documents. Many times, JavaScript blocks DOM construction and delays page rendering. AMP takes care of this issue by not allowing any author-written JavaScript.

Using DOM, JavaScript can access and manipulate all the elements of an HTML document.

Google AMP Cache

Google's AMP Cache is a proxy-based CDN (content delivery network). It fetches the AMP HTML pages and caches them and automatically improves their page performance.

The three above components work together to enhance the performance of mobile websites on the internet effectively and give the best possible user experience to visitors.

For non-coders, AMP plugins for WordPress are available, which enable you to have AMP versions of your pages by merely activating these plugins.

Upon enabling these plugins, all the URLs of the posts will get an "/amp/" version. This means to make any post AMP, you will just have to add suffix "/amp/" to the URL.

This plugin also makes AMP-activated pages recognizable to Google by adding a standard meta tag to the normal pages.

Benefits of Google AMP

Because mobile has become a very crucial part of web searches, AMP assists in marketing and SEO.

As of 2017, about 51% of global web traffic comes from mobile devices. Keeping in mind this increasing traffic, Google subtly hinted that it will soon evaluate sites based on their mobile versions.

Better Search Results

The most prestigious position on Google search results is the first page. It is where a website gets the highest number of clicks and engagements.

With Google AMP, your site is shown in a carousel format on the topmost place and draws maximum traffic.

Google AMP search results

The carousel of AMP pages stands out in a search.

Decreased Bounce Rates

Bounce rate represents the percentage of people who visit one of your web pages and then leave the website without clicking anywhere else.

Mobile users bounce from websites the most compared to users of other devices.

Average bounce rate by device type

One of the main culprits of the high mobile bounce rate is slow-loading pages.

AMP pages substantially reduce the bounce rates by rendering the website quickly, therefore improving the website rank.

Industry mavens like Gizmodo and Wired saw a significant increase in traffic and engagement after using AMP.

Increased ROI on Advertisements

AMP provides a hospitable environment to a wide range of ad networks. In fact, one of the primary objectives of AMP is to provide a faster-loading ad experience.

When ads quickly load, the chances of people viewing them increases, and the messaging in ads can reach their full potential. Thus, the overall efficiency and revenue of each ad increases.

AMPHTML ads provide exceptional ad experience to users with fast, light, and secure ads.

For example, Toyota’s AMPHTML ad loads quickly.

Toyota AMPHTML advertisement

Source: AMP Project

The more quickly the ad loads, the more likely people are to see it.

Challenges of Google AMP

Google AMP has many benefits, but it also has its drawbacks.

Slow-Loading Video Content

Not all content is rendered at a lightning-fast speed with AMPs.

If your website has a large portion of video content, AMP might not deliver it as quickly as other content.

The videos will render at their own speed, which is usually slower.

Difficult for Non-Developers

The implementation of AMP is quite difficult.

For people who do not know how to code, without a WordPress plugin, one cannot implement AMP on the pages.

This limits the possibility of having it on content management systems other than WordPress because WordPress provides a plugin for using AMP for people who cannot code.

When using AMP on other CMS platforms, one has to learn coding, as these platforms do not offer simple AMP plugins for non-developers.

Limited Widgets & Features Supported

AMP uses a limited set of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Hence, there are only certain widgets that are present on AMP.

In other words, you cannot add other widgets and features to your mobile AMP page – features such as a Facebook "like" box and forms for email opt-ins.

Limited Analytics Supported

AMP supports only Google Analytics for WordPress users. It is not flexible in allowing other analytics platforms, such as Adobe Analytics, Heatmap Analytics, Crazy Egg Analytics, and Kissmetrics Analytics.

Native Apps vs. PWAs vs. AMPs

Now that you understand the basic functionalities and benefits of native apps, PWAs, and AMPs, let’s compare all three technologies to build more clarity on which one is the most suitable for your business.

  Native PWA Google AMP
Development Language Swift, Objective C, Java, C# HTML5, CSS, JavaScript HTML5
Development Cost (approx.) $25,000-$70,000 $8,000-$25,000 Free
Means of Discoverability Play Store, ASO, referral advertising Search engine optimization Search engine optimization
Device Access Completely Partially Not possible
Offline Functionality Yes Yes No
Linking & Sharing Not possible Possible via URL Possible via URL
Push Notifications Available Available Not available

Which One is Right for Your Business?

Based on my knowledge and experience with projects in the application development industry, the following inferences are drawn for all the three technologies:

Why Choose Native Apps?

Native Apps are right for either startups or businesses that already have a website and want to reach a larger customer base through a mobile application.

Native apps are also suitable for mobile gaming as well as any content that is media-rich.

The demand for native apps is highest in the hotel industry, the insurance industry, flight booking, e-commerce, and digital payments.

Some of the most popular native apps are Pokemon Go, Skype, and Twitter.

Why Choose PWAs?

PWAs are good for businesses that want users to visit weekly or monthly, instead of every day, because the aim of the PWA is to attract new users once and impact them in a way that encourages them to download the mobile app in the future.

Businesses in industries such as travel, retail, banking, media, and e-commerce commonly use PWAs.

Some leading brands such as Forbes, Santa Tracker, George.com, and Flipkart benefit from PWAs, leading to increased conversions and visible results.

Why Choose AMPs?

AMP is best suited for businesses whose content is not very media-rich. It is more suitable for static content.

Although extra features can be worked into AMP, it only adds to its cost and labor.

Industries such as news publishing sites, e-commerce, and advertising successfully use AMP to its full potential.

AMP is an excellent platform for sharing blogs, articles, and recipes. Because of the speed that AMP provides, they are also used in lead generation landing pages.

Some companies that benefit from AMP include GIZMODO, The Washington Post, WIRED, Fast Commerce, and U.S. Xpress.

Find the Right Technology for Your Business

Finding the technology that suits your business depends on how well you understand the real potential of each one.

Comprehensive knowledge of each technology helps you pick the right one for your business.


About the Author

Headshot of Uzair KhanUzair is the VP, Sales & Marketing at Enterprise Monkey, an Australia-based e-business consulting company that helps small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profits and startups by providing integration, automation, and greater visibility of their business processes. Uzair possesses a comprehensive experience in B2B and B2C marketing. Pursuing his vision to help small and medium enterprises, he has successfully helped many such organizations increase their productivity and revenue.

 

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