Some interesting facts: Since 2017 mobile has surpassed desktop in page views. On average a website takes 8,5 seconds to load and on mobile, this number can be easily 3 to 4 times larger. 53% of users say they will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 79% of online customers said they are less likely to shop on a site again that showed slow performance. And Amazon discovered in a study that every second of delay did cost them about 10% of their revenue. It is easy to see that there is quite a bit room for improvement.
Google has seen this problem and has taken some measures. For search engine ranking it takes into account site speed and user experience. A slow-loading website will increase the bounce rate, which indirectly influences your ranking in Google as well. For getting a positive user experience, as well as for improving your Search Engine rankings, it is important to optimize your page loading speed, especially on mobile devices.
In order to provide a solution for this negative trend, in 2016 Google established together with a few other industry leaders the AMP standard. It is a simplified subset of the HTML standard that envisions to drastically improve page loading speeds, especially on mobile devices.
Google says that using the AMP protocol is not directly a ranking factor yet. But the improved site speed is, as well as the improved user experience. Also, the top story news carousel showing on mobile devices is reserved specifically for AMP pages. News sites were the first ones rallying around implementing AMP. All AMP pages are also marked by the logo in the search results.
In practical case studies, an Indian e-commerce site has seen a 40% decrease in bounce rate. An event ticket site switched to AMP and their page load time dropped from 6 seconds to 1 second. As a result, they have seen a 20 to 30% increase in conversions from paid advertising and a whopping 100% increase in conversions coming from organic search. On average, e-commerce sites see a 32% increase in organic traffic, a 42% increase in search engine rankings and a 20% increase in conversion when switching to AMP. Twitter has seen a 10% decrease in bounce rate when linking to AMP pages compared to their non-AMP equivalent. Another study showed that users are engaging 2x as long on a fast-loading AMP website.
Limitations of AMP
In order to achieve the almost instant loading experience, AMP has implemented a number of limitations:
- No external CSS. About half of the resources loaded on a WordPress page are CSS libraries. Loading additional files on a mobile network is more time-intensive since the round trip times on mobile are quite a bit higher than on a wired internet connection.
- All CSS combined needs to be less than 50 kb. A theme that has Woocommerce support for example will include all the product layout CSS, even if you have not a single product on your site. Plugins are adding additional CSS, which are normally loaded on all pages, whether they are using the plugin or not. In practice, not even 10% of code in the CSS libraries loaded is actually being used on the page. On AMP, only the CSS that is actually used should be loaded.
- Some CSS animations are disallowed, and animations are limited to those who can be processed with GPU acceleration.
- The HTML tags <img>, <video>, <audio> and <iframe> have AMP equivalents that prioritize loading of the essential content first, and will load media files only after the initial page is being built. That speeds up the initial page loading time.
Furthermore, Google places an AMP-compatible page into its cache, allowing for almost instant displaying of the page when clicking through from their search results. At every page request, the cache is going to be updated to guarantee that the content of the page will stay up to date.
Implementation in WordPress
In order to make WordPress compatible with the AMP standard, there are a growing number of plugins available. In another blog, I have tested the best available options and will give you a review of the strengths and weaknesses of every one of them.
AMP is really a powerful way to increase the speed of your mobile pages, and it helps to meet Google’s expectations of a speed-optimized page. In the last couple of years, the available plugin options have evolved quite a bit and making a proper AMP implementation of your site gets every time easier. The features of the various available plugins vary greatly, and it pays off to plan well your move to AMP in order to maintain a positive user experience while implementing a significant page speed upgrade.
If you liked this article, I have a special offer for you. I have created a manual to lay out the whole process of WordPress Speed Optimization for you. From choosing the right hosting service to caching, minification, GZip compression and image optimization, we have you all covered. We explain also the whole process of making your site AMP compliant. This document will help you to get your WordPress speed optimization, especially on mobile, to the next level.