What Is Google Images With AMP And Should You Invest In It?

It was back in 2015 when Google first announced the AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages project. Since then, it has been constantly evolving with more and more businesses jumping on board. Considering the fact that these types of pages are instant-load pages and Google gives your ranking performance a boost based on speed, it’s not hard to see why so many companies are investing in the development of AMP for their own websites.

We’ve actually spoken about Accelerated Mobile Pages before when Google started to roll support for them out across the world, which you can read here. However, Google recently announced a new utilisation of AMP on the Webmaster Central Blog here; we now have Google Images with AMP.

What Is Google Images with AMP

So, we have already briefly covered what Accelerated Mobile Pages are at the core of the project. However, the release of Google Images with AMP is a brand new implementation of AMP in terms of how Google uses these pages.

In essence, when you search for images in Google, you have long been able to click on the Visit Site button to actually go to the source webpage that the image was found on. However, this would always load the standard, non-Accelerated version of that page. This is typically fine on a Desktop computer but, if you are on 3G or 4G, it can mean waiting for the webpage to load.

Since Google wants to effectively remove Page Load Time entirely, allowing users to gain instant access to the information they want, they have now come out with this new AMP implementation.

Moving forward, when you open up that image search result in Google, expanding it to see more information about it, a small bar will appear at the bottom if the source page is AMP compatible. Holding that bar and swiping up will then open the AMP version of the source page immediately!

 

Image from Google Webmaster Central

This gives instant access to that page, albeit the Accelerated Mobile Page version. The idea behind this is that it will allow the user to gain instant access to information or products, leading to higher traffic levels and potential conversions for a business. That, of course, sounds like a great idea! However, there is another side of this that we need to discuss before you jump on the Google Images with AMP bandwagon!

How Much Development Does AMP Need?

In order to make use of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project, you can’t just use your current website and expect it to work. AMP requires very specific templates and coding in order to work. You need to have a very cut down version of your website that removes most JavaScript and CSS, so that Google is able to cache your page using a smaller amount of data.

As such, you’ll need to create brand new templates for each page of your website. For a catalogue or news website, this isn’t too difficult because of the static nature of each webpage. In fact, for WordPress, there is a plugin that will create a standard AMP template for your blog posts or news articles. However, that plugin uses a pre-determined theme and style that almost certainly won’t be on-brand for your business.

Therefore, if you have an E-commerce website or want your AMP pages that are branded, you will need a web developer to create new templates and themes. Whilst this may not sound like a lot when you say it, in effect, your developer will need to build a completely new website for you.

Your AMP website needs to follow specific guidelines and development rules as well, so if you have any interactive nature on your website, such as adding a product to a basket or engaging with a mailing list, you will need to recode how this interactivity works. That, in and of itself, can be a large task.

So, as you can imagine, creating an Accelerated Mobile Pages version of your website takes a lot of development work. Therefore, that begs the question as to whether Google Images with AMP is worth it from a business perspective.

Is Google Images with AMP Worth The Development?

Since we’ve now discussed just how much development work goes into setting up Accelerated Mobile Pages, the biggest question is whether the benefits outweigh the cost. So, let’s take a look at the benefits from AMP, in general, to begin with.

  • Improved Mobile device rankings.
    • Whilst Google has categorically stated that AMP does not give you a ranking boost, from our research and testing, this isn’t accurate. We have websites that saw significant improvements in rankings on Mobile devices once AMP was correctly set up and functioning. However, these ranking improvements were limited to just Mobile devices.
  • A faster website for your users.
    • The average attention span of a website user has fallen considerably in recent years. As technology improves and internet speeds get faster, users expect websites to do the same. So, by having a website full of instant load pages on Mobile devices, you can improve user engagement and potentially see Conversion Rate improvements as well.
  • The slim chance to rank multiple, related pages for the same position.
    • Whilst it is extremely rare, we have seen websites with multiple Accelerated Mobile Pages that are related to the same topic appear in Google with a slider in Mobile Search Results, showing up to 10 of those related pages. This gives users a much higher number of entry points to the website.

As you can see, the main benefit is that Accelerated Mobile Pages gives you the chance to rank better, gain more traffic and improve user engagement. However, this is naturally limited to just Mobile users. So, if your target audience is unlikely to be using Mobile devices when searching for your services, AMP probably isn’t worth it for you.

If your target audience does use Mobile devices, then AMP could be a very good investment for development, as it can help to improve the number of people who find your website to begin with.

Image and results from 9to5Google.com

On top of this, if you look at a research survey carried out by 9to5Google.com, it’s very clear that the large majority of the sample audience actually prefer the cut-down AMP versions of webpages if they are reading information. Whilst this sample is focused on pages with predominantly written content, rather than E-commerce pages, it does show a trend in user behaviour.

Data and Image from Moz.com

Moz also ran a test to see how the design of an Accelerated Mobile Page can affect user engagement. They initially used the default AMP layout, which performed very poorly, before spending a short amount of time developing a basic yet tailored design. This second design worked much better, showing that Accelerated Mobile Pages need to be well developed and designed.

However, as their test used a very basic design and gained far higher numbers of Sessions with similar levels of engagement as the standard Responsive website, it is also clear that a well-designed AMP page would lead to higher engagement from a significantly larger audience.

Based upon Moz’s test, if you were to carefully and meticulously design and develop your Accelerated Mobile Pages, you could see an increase in Organic traffic of up to 440%. On top of this, the engagement rates would also be better than a standard Responsive website. Thus, Conversion Rate potential and revenue generation would also improve significantly!

Data and Image from Moz.com

Further research was also carried out by Moz across a number of different types of websites. In the table above, you can see the type of website, when they implemented AMP on their site, and the effect it had. Those websites listed in green saw significant improvements.

For example, a Retail website saw a 65% decrease in Page Load and a 40% decrease in Bounce Rate, whilst a Real Estate website saw a 77% increase in Conversions! That is a very significant amount of growth which would easily outweigh the cost of developing Accelerated Mobile Pages in a relatively short space of time.

That said, this is talking about Accelerated Mobile Pages in general. When limiting the focus to just Google Images with AMP, it is a bit more difficult to gauge. This is because the system has just been released. As such, for each of our clients, we are going to be analysing relevant Google Image searches as well as keeping an eye on how Google Images with AMP performs for other websites. This will allow us to determine which clients would actually benefit from this implementation.

Which Websites Should Use AMP?

As you can see from Moz’s study, different websites saw different levels of growth and change when they implemented Accelerated Mobile Pages. Because of this, it is important to look at how AMP affects different types of websites.

The website Thrillist, a content-focused media website, implemented AMP across roughly 90% of their pages. Shortly after this, their traffic from Organic SEO jumped up by around 70% which, according to their Analytics data, was largely driven by traffic coming through via Accelerated Mobile Pages.

However, as AMP was originally developed for News websites, content-focused sites would naturally gain a large improvement in performance. Since then, the technology behind Accelerated Mobile Pages have been developed and worked on constantly, with E-commerce functionality now working with AMP as well. So, what about an E-commerce website?

Screenshot of the Myntra AMP homepage

Myntra, a very large fashion retailer in India, made the investment to develop an AMP version of their website, as shown above. It was designed to fit their style and brand, as well as retain E-commerce functionality. This took a large amount of development work to implement correctly, so how did it perform?

Well, Myntra reported that they achieved a Bounce Rate reduction of 40% overall, with Page Load Time cut by 65% as well. As for the Return on Investment, whilst they did not publish their revenue growth, they have stated that they are very happy with the Return on Investment of the AMP implementation.

So, as you can see, Accelerated Mobile Pages can have a huge benefit to both content-focused, brochure style websites as well as E-commerce sites. Plus, when you consider the fact that Page Load Speed and User Engagement are metrics that Google uses to determine the value of your website, improvements to these metrics will likely also help to improve your overall SEO performance, outside of Accelerated Mobile Pages.

When you take into account the fact that a 1-second delay in Page Load Time can equate to a 7% decrease in Conversions, as found by Neil Patel here, it becomes clear that near-instant loading pages could have a huge boost on the performance of your website. If you consider the average Page Load Time is around 3 seconds, that’s already 21% of potential Conversions lost. By utilising AMP to cut load times to under 1 second, you already stand to increase Conversions by that same 21%, without taking into account the load times for checkout pages!

For most businesses, a 21% increase in Conversions can be a huge deal by itself. But when you consider that Moz’s research found websites that experienced a 77% increase in Conversions, AMP implementation would almost certainly pay for itself many times over.

So, now that we have covered what AMP can do for a website already, and that’s before we even have any data available on the new Google Images with AMP performance, the next step is to actually implement Accelerated Mobile Pages on your website!

How To Get AMP Developed For Your Website

As Accelerated Mobile Pages such a powerful way of increasing your rankings and potential for conversions, it would make sense to develop an AMP version of your website if it is right for your target audience. However, as stated, you would need to have the AMP version developed according to specific rules and guidelines.

You will likely need a team of designers, developers and SEOs working together to make sure that the installation of Accelerated Mobile Pages goes smoothly from all aspects. Doing this would help to ensure that your website gains the highest benefit when it comes to AMP. This is especially true now that Google has released the new Google Images with AMP system, as you will need to make sure that imagery, content and coding structure are all optimised for SEO and usability!

If you want your website to be given an AMP version and to make sure that it follows development and SEO guidelines, then why not get in touch with us today? We would be happy to discuss your requirements and determine whether AMP is the right move for your website.

Written by Gareth Torrance

Hello there. I'm Gareth, the Digital Marketing Manager at Brave. With almost a decade of experience in PPC and SEO, I've seen everything from Pandas and Penguins to the horrible time that was Mobilegeddon. As an Adwords Certified Google Specialist, I have lived through almost every major shift in the industry! And that makes me feel old.

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