The Wait is Over: Accelerated Mobile Pages Are Here!
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The Wait is Over: Accelerated Mobile Pages Are Here!

Last updated on November 8, 2016 by Ted Vrountas in Marketing Trends
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Get excited!

Last week Google AMPs was finally released. No, not the kind of amp you used to connect your electric guitar to during band practice in your parents’ garage. We’re talking about the new Google “Accelerated Mobile Pages” project, an answer to the problem of our horrifically slow mobile web.

Yes, horrifically, monumentally slow — especially in the United States.

In a ranking of internet speeds around the world, the United States doesn’t even crack the top ten. We trail countries like Japan, Romania, Taiwan, Israel, Latvia, and Qatar:

This picture shows the global internet speeds and how they affect users' browsing experience.

And when you rank our mobile connection speeds globally, it gets even more embarrassing. The UK’s mobile internet is exactly 5x faster than the US’s. Even the citizens of Venezuela enjoy a browsing experience that’s twice as fast.

Our tragically slow access to the World Wide Web has become the butt of jokes in recent years:

This gif shows how the "buffering" symbol can frustrate users and increase bounce rates.

Comedian Whitney Cummings has even suggested using it to narrow your potential suitors:

This picture shows a funny tweet about slow internet and marriage.

And, while at some point in our lives, we all probably could’ve saved some heartbreak by taking her advice; businesses stand to save something even more valuable to their survival by listening to gripes from their online customers:

Money.

Digital actions were responsible for $2.2 trillion retail sales last year, with the mobile internet contributing to one trillion of that.

One trillion is a big number with a lot of zeros, but it should come as no surprise to those of us who have ever purchased something online. It’s convenient and easy to compare products, prices, and reviews, too.

What might be a little more shocking is how much less convenient online shopping becomes when a slow internet connection is introduced into the mix.

Studies have found that our impatience has the potential to cost businesses an absurd amount of money:

This graphic shows that the slower a web page loads, the more people will leave the page.

The average ecommerce site takes 7.12 seconds to load in Internet Explorer, 7.15 seconds to load in Firefox, and 7.5 seconds to load in Google Chrome – which ultimately translates to a loss of $500 billion annually for the ecommerce market. And slow-loading websites are to blame:

This graphic shows marketers that 50% of mobile users will leave a web page if it doesn't load in 10 seconds.

In fact, 51% of U.S. online shoppers say slow site loading times is the number one reason they abandon a purchase.

This prompted many studies into how businesses could boost profit by speeding up site accessibility. Kissmetrics found that for every second delay in load time a page experiences, conversion rate can drop by 7%. The team at Conversion Conference discovered that by speeding up page load time by just two seconds, they were able to boost conversions for an ecommerce business by 66%:

This graphic shows how Amazon can lose $1.6 billion per year because of a 1-second web page delay.

Admittedly, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Accelerated mobile pages aren’t ready to be rolled out to ecommerce sites yet… but more on that in a minute.

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

We have to give the team at Google credit. Time and again they’ve come up with new and creative ways to make things faster, easier, and better for their users. Their newest solution is something called “Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP),” which aims to make mobile web pages load at lightning speeds.

From the AMP site:

“For many, reading on the mobile web is a slow, clunky and frustrating experience - but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.”

The project was unveiled about six months ago, and last week, Google AMPs began rolling out all over the world.

For internet users, the Accelerated Mobile Pages should help us skirt the frustration we experience when we see this on our mobile phones:

This gif shows how frustrating the loading spinner is for web users and hurts conversion rates.

For web designers, AMP can help build stunningly quick-loading mobile pages.

Think of it like this

Similar to the way Instapage helps people with no coding skills easily create landing pages, the project helps web designers more simply create highly optimized mobile pages.

In reality, the pages AMP helps designers build could be set up without the framework, but it would require a lot of resources and intensive performance optimizations that many don’t have the time or money to execute.

Web pages built within the AMP framework can load anywhere from 15 to 85% faster than the non-AMP version of that page while using ten times fewer data.

Where did the idea come from?

While many see this as a selfless move on Google’s part to provide a better mobile experience for its users, some think the search engine giant created AMP as an answer to Facebook instant articles.

It’s no secret that the two most popular websites in the world have been competing for web supremacy and the advertising dollars that come with it.

This competition intensified when it was discovered that most mobile users don’t use search as often as they do apps to find content. Google AMP are likely an effort to make content discovery through its search engine more appealing to mobile device users.

How does AMP work?

The AMP framework uses a lighter form of popular coding languages that web designers use today to create mobile pages. It consists of three basic parts:

AMP HTML

Google’s lighter version of HTML eliminates many of the elements that cause web pages to load slowly. It has some custom tags but is mostly a subset of the language built on restrictions to its parent, HTML. Here’s a list of required AMP HTML markup.

AMP JavaScript

This is a stripped-down version of JavaScript that is leveraged to provide faster loading times more than it is to create a dynamic experience. It should be noted that third-party JavaScript cannot be used within the AMP framework.

AMP CDN

This is an optional “Content Delivery Network,” which when used, will store a cached copy of your AMP-enabled pages on Google’s servers for an even quicker delivery to those clicking through to them.

If you’re having difficulty conceptualizing, imagine today’s immense coding languages as the English language. Google’s lighter versions are similar to our use of slang, contractions, and abbreviations in written and spoken word. The goal is to get to the point quickly, just as Google’s goal is to get a page to load quickly.

The pros and cons of Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP is an exciting new release, for which the future holds great things. But right now, as far as landing pages are concerned, marketers are quite limited in what they can create using the framework. And there’s one big reason:

No third-party JavaScript

Without the ability to use third-party JavaScript, marketers can say goodbye to analytics and tracking capabilities that allow them to deliver highly targeted advertising experiences.

Not only that but with Google’s lighter version of JavaScript, page elements that require the transferring of data, like landing page forms, can’t be created. This likely means that if AMP-enabled landing pages are to be created, at least right now, the CTAs on those pages will be a two-step process…possibly inviting users to click a link within the text which directs them to a non-amp page that allows the submission of user data.

But this shouldn’t be enough to dissuade you from trying the new AMP format. There are still some giant advantages to using Accelerated Mobile Pages.

Get a big SEO boost

"Starting today, Google will make it easy to find AMP web pages in relevant mobile search results, giving users a lightning-fast reading experience for top stories," shared David Besbris, Vice President of Search Engineering.

The boost David is referring to improves SEO in two different ways. First, we all know that Google’s algorithm takes pagespeed and mobile responsiveness into account. The faster your page loads on mobile, the higher it will be ranked on search engine results pages.

Second, all AMP-enabled pages will appear in a carousel format even above paid ads in search results, looking like this, with a green lightning bolt underneath the title:

This picture shows mobile users how to choose Accelerated Mobile Pages on mobile devices.

Provide a better user experience

Of course, the most obvious advantage of using accelerated mobile landing pages is that they’ll provide much higher user satisfaction. When one in two people can’t be bothered to wait a mere 10 seconds for a website to load, speeding up the process by 15-85% can have a huge impact on visitor happiness.

How marketers can take advantage of AMP

Now, just because marketers can’t build dynamic landing pages in AMP yet doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of the new framework. Here’s how you can:

1. Advertise on AMP pages

Several ad publishers like Outbrain have already partnered with Google to deliver ads on AMP-enabled pages. With the SEO-boost that all pages created using the AMP framework will get, advertising through ones that are at the top of search results is a great idea for your business.

2. Get creative and simplify your landing pages

As we said earlier, just because you can’t create landing pages in the traditional sense doesn’t mean you can’t create them at all. While it’ll be a challenge to build pages without forms, tracking and analytics, these creative constraints could birth an entirely novel, simplified type of landing page.

Instead of focusing on creating landing pages as you’ve come to know them, try thinking outside the box.

One thing that’s been floating around is the idea of creating a two-step process that drives prospects via links from an accelerated mobile page to a non-AMP landing page, where you can capture their information.

3. Drive traffic to landing pages via links in blog posts

Because AMP is solely focused on delivering static content right now, there’s no better time to optimize your blog posts by ensuring they include a CTA to company landing pages. Combined with an SEO boost that has the potential to rocket your articles to the top of search engine results pages, mobile blog optimization is now a more powerful method than ever for driving traffic.

Is there a future for AM(L)P’s – Accelerated Mobile Landing Pages?

The fact that large ecommerce sites have been invited to use the platform is a good sign for the future of AMP-enabled landing pages. And if that’s not quelling your anxiety, maybe the following quote will.

In an interview with Nieman Lab, Richard Gingras, Google’s head of news and social products, sheds light on the possibility of AMP eventually being scaled to include all types of pages:

“On the format side, we’re looking forward to more and more examples of publishers doing highly compelling interactive experiences within the format as well. When we announced, a frequent question was: Could we do things beyond straightforward articles? It’s important to us that that be allowed, and we want to push forward with this.”

“There’s a lot more we can do in evolving the format. AMP is not just about news and not just about articles. That was our initial focus. I see applications across a whole spectrum of web experiences, from e-commerce sites to the landing pages for an ad. It’s interesting if you study ad performance, which if I click on an ad, how important getting quickly to the next step is. If you could somehow collapse that to be instantaneous, then ads will be more effective. There are lots of potential areas that are succeeding, and some that are not, and we’re excited about all these next steps.”

Start optimizing your pages with AMP today

You can begin creating accelerated mobile landing pages by following this tutorial from the creators of the project itself. Then, validate your pages through this process to make sure they work.

If you don’t have the tech experience to AMP-lify your pages, don’t worry, some startups have emerged to help you switch your content over to an accelerated mobile format.

So get optimizing, and while you’re at it, rethink the way you create landing pages. Remember: it takes pressure to create diamonds. The creative constraints you’re working under could very well give birth to something you never thought possible.

To create a landing page that can collect user information and leverage analytics and track scripts, start here with Instapage. Then drive traffic to it using your new, speedy, accelerated mobile page.

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