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Google and proponents of AMP would like you to think it is important because it is simply a faster way to deliver web pages. A lot of the thought behind AMP is that it will improve usability by delivering pages faster, which will keep users on your site longer. But is this actually a fact? AMP itself does not help with engaging users in a page. The content is what engages users.
AMP is very limiting
To be shown as an AMP page in Google Mobile Search your AMP page has to perfectly validate. The tags for AMP and what the AMP project supports are very, very limiting. Things that you could see as detrimental to your website are generally not allowed on AMP websites. Some of those things are:
A lot of sites use chat applications for customer service. With AMP these cannot be used, this could cause your site to lose potential sales from users not being able to get the help they need.
AMP does not have any markup specific to checkouts, so users are redirected to your normal checkout. But on product page checkouts cannot be used. Checkouts such as Paypal Express, Amazon Payments, and Apple Pay, when used on a product page are disabled on the AMP version of the product pages.
AMP does not allow for use of forms, so a user cannot log in on an AMP site. They are sent to your mobily responsive site, never to return to your AMP site again. At the same time AMP does not support social media logging in, which might be a deterrent to some of your users as well. One thing that is not apparent is that AMP pages are static for the most part. They really do not support a logged in state, or user preferences. Things like recommended products, or recently viewed products will not work with an AMP page. None of the personalization aspects like “Hi, Lesley” are done with AMP.
Filtering and Faceted Searching
Analytics are limited
Google Analytics is not supported on AMP. A limited set of Analytics for AMP is available. It does not have as many tracking features or as much information as the standard Google Analytics. If you use a different suite of tracking such as Piwik or kissmetrics, they will not work with AMP.
Users Stay on Google
One feature of AMP is the caching. Google caches your pages and serves them from their cache, which is where a lot of the loading speed comes from. This means users never reach your site. They are on Google’s site still. A typical AMP url will look like the image below. Notice the URL in the browser, it is still on Google’s site.
Ad Revenue is Decreased
This is not generally a big issue for e-commerce sites, but it is something that is well-documented and worth mentioning.
Integrations are not Possible
Most sites run at least some third party integration. These just are not possible with AMP because of the way it caches the pages on Google. That means some of the tools you use to increase conversions or increase the order amount will not be used with AMP. Some of the common integrations we see that are not able to be used are:
- Yotpo or other review platforms, so reviews are not shown
- Trust seals, like SSL seals or payment gateway seals
- Product recommendation engines like Nosto or Segmentify do not work
- Search services like Algolia and others will not work
- Financing services like Time Payment do not work on AMP
- A/B testing is not supported
If your mobile site relies on any of these services or features, AMP will remove them all. Its starting to become clear how limited AMP is. Honestly, to me, it is a one trick pony. Is speed all it takes to close sales? I for one do not think so.
What About the Ranking Boost
If you have been told there is a ranking boost by using Google AMP, you have been lied to. The world of SEO sometimes seems like a mystical world, sometimes it is hard to understand how one thing will affect another that might affect rankings. But there are some clear things. When the people at Google talk, people in the SEO industry listen. Here is an official tweet on the matter that should put AMP as a ranking signal to rest.
AMP isn’t a ranking factor; if you decide to disable it, make sure to redirect appropriately.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) January 25, 2017
As much as some developers and module sellers want you to think that AMP is a ranking factor, you have read from the horses mouth that it is not.
But the speed
AMP is geared around speed. It strips everything that can slow a page loading time out to make it faster, features in some cases are stripped. A lot of the speed actually comes from loading the site through Google’s CDN network. Because of how AMP is designed, it will detect a the browser and refer to the desktop version in most tests. This makes actually testing an AMP cached site for speed very difficult. After a lot testing around I was actually able to find a way to test AMP pages versus mobile sites for their speed. Using GTmetrix from the Vancouver testing location you can test with a mobile browser. Google does not redirect the page, so you are able to test the AMP speed directly.
The first series of tests are ran on ebay, since they are a well known early adopter of AMP. For the tests the I used the Vancouver location and the Chrome Android Galaxy Nexus settings for both tests. I tested them both unthrottled as well. Exact same tests the AMP cached page and the regular Ebay mobile page. One thing to note, you do need a free GTmetrix account to be able to change the testing to these settings.
You can see in the first test that ebay without AMP loads almost 2 seconds faster than with AMP. The page size for the AMP site is almost twice as big as well. Another thing to note, is that with AMP the scores are better for PageSpeed and YSlow. Does better scores negate the almost 2 seconds extra load time?
These results have to be an outlier, right? Why would people use AMP if it actually slowed things down? I felt the same way, so I tested some more site. These next tests are done from OverStock’s site on a leather recliner landing page.
Looking at the two different examples above does AMP seem worth it to you? Especially when you consider that some elements you might use for conversion factors will have to be disabled. I cannot say I would recommend using AMP by looking at these tests.
Taking everything into consideration, I would decline recommending AMP for e-commerce sites. AMP itself is too limited, even if the speed increases that are promised are there, I don’t think I could recommend it because of the limitations. Almost everything that is limited on AMP has an actual conversion value. So you would have to weight the speed against the value of the conversion addons. Would your site loading 1 second faster be worth turning off a one click buying option for mobile users? Which would result in more conversions? Would having category pages that cannot be filtered be worth having a speed increase? I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages in using AMP for an e-commerce site.
Have a different opinion? Let me know below in the comments.