Using AMP for faster websites and more conversions on mobile

A guest article by the RocketAmp team, developer of the first (and currently only) AMP plugin for Shopify!

eCommerce has exploded over the last few years and as more and more customers get comfortable with smartphones, mobile eCommerce has exploded too. In fact, early 2016 marked the first time that mobile surpassed desktop for online shopping and Salesforce estimates by the end of 2017 mobile visits will produce 60% of all eCommerce visits.

Just as smartphone usage has grown, so has the sheer size of many eCommerce websites. Today, many web stores look beautiful on the outside but are actually heavy and slow, filled with all sorts of unnecessary code and fancy graphics that bog down the site. Most platforms have "mobile optimized" or "responsive" themes which make those sites look better on mobile but are not truly optimized for mobile. Those platforms also make it deceptively easy to add plugins or apps, each one adding bits of code that ultimately force the user to wait longer and longer for the site to load. Since speed is key in online commerce, just having a mobile theme may still leave your customers hanging, or even bouncing before your store loads.

Google recognized this problem and in 2015 released Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). They worked hard to improve the technology with news publishers and in 2016 brought AMP to the world of eCommerce where they continue to make improvements. While AMP doesn't directly contribute to SEO (yet!), when used correctly it doesn't detract either. Google already highlights AMP pages in search results and their shopping carousel and is expected to include AMP in their page ranking algorithms as well, as a way to help increase adoption.

To understand why speed is such an important factor consider this: users expect a site to load at desktop speed even though they're on a mobile connection. After just three seconds 40% of users will abandon your site, costing you a potential sale and the possibility of a long time buyer. Because AMP sites load instantly, in the last year 600 million pages have converted to AMP, some of the largest online retailers such as ebay, Rakuten, Pinterest, and Fandango have adopted the technology, and Cloudflare - a company that supports 10% of all internet traffic - has also started embracing the technology.

The purpose of AMP for eCommerce is of course to load a page faster so that a potential customer actually makes a purchase. In order to make an instantly loading AMP site you must create an AMP compliant version of your website. This version is optimized to have the most important information that you need to give to a customer. Often this means the product name, image, details (such as a description, sizes, etc.) at minimum, but as AMP adoption grows Google is making many ancillary components (tracking, ads, analytics, image galleries, etc.) AMP compliant as well. Anything that is unnecessary or adds delay to the page stays on the unoptimized version of the mobile site.

Normally this can be a difficult task, however, there are apps like RocketAmp on platforms like Shopify that will do all of this for you automatically! After your AMP site is created Google indexes and caches the new pages. This way, anyone that enters your site through Google Search will get a page loaded even 4x faster than just having an AMP page. Using this combination of AMP + Google Cache, 90% of sites report higher click through rates. Higher click through rates mean higher conversions and Google reports a 73% increase in visits from monthly unique visitors with AMP.

In mobile eCommerce having a fast website is just as important as having a great product to sell and AMP works so well because it works throughout all the major stages of a visit. The page is cached so it is retrieved faster, website code is smaller so less data has to be transmitted, and because the webpage is smaller and less complex the user's browser renders it faster. All of this creates a better experience for your customer and more sales for you.

If you're on Shopify you can get AMP in just a few clicks! Download RocketAmp, the first (and currently only) AMP plugin for Shopify! RocketAmp automatically creates the AMP optimized version of your site, submits it to Google, and allows you to monitor your AMP impact. RocketAmp is dynamic so it's always up to date with the latest changes you make as well as lets you customize the look and feel of your AMP site to match your desktop version. Try it Free for 14 days by downloading it here from the Shopify App Store! 

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