[Edit]: I have decided to publish this article or blog post on Medium for a larger audience as well.
There is a trend right now to create as efficient and feature rich websites, especially for businesses who need to retain page views and page clicks from as many visitors as possible. This is really a huge part of customer retention and business intelligence because the more customers remain on a website and the more pages they visit within a site, the more successful the business’ online presence will be.
I previously covered how Google rankings plays a large part in driving business and keeping a bounce rate low (customers bouncing away from the website after visiting) is important for businesses to continue thriving. Customer retention is needed with a low bounce rate and keeping existing customers interest through additional content or quality Web design is a large part of business revenue. However, attracting new customers is also important for most businesses.
Google has huge power in filtering which websites get put on top of its search rankings and which get buried with the rubble. Things like many inbound links, quality and relevant content, good metadata with relevant and good use of long-tail keywords, as well as an AI algorithm that is constantly changing all play a part. However, page speed, or efficient speeds and set ups for mobile as well as desktop versions of a website, is another indicator a website will be successful and remain on top of Google’s rankings.
Think of it this way, if you are a customer shopping online, would you shop at a slow loading and inefficient Web infrastructure? Or would you opt for the competitor that will load instantly and allow you to seamlessly search through products of your choosing to purchase? The answer should be simple for anyone who does shopping online, particularly from a mobile device where instant gratification is of the utmost importance.
Google has admitted last year that page speed impacts their ranking system with a statement on its blog:
“People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches… The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.“
Thus relevant content may be more important and overall site quality than just page speed, but it still plays a large role in search and you have to keep in mind that it impacts other aspect of a customer’s experience visiting a website. There are various aspects to successful customer retention and further business growth besides having good rankings. Speed, particularly for mobile users, is one aspect that should benefit a business regardless of content.
Page Optimization & Page Speed Are Paramount to Customer Retention
After, having a good platform built and up and running, a website that is feature-rich in content and all the SEO taken care of, you may wonder, what do I do next to drive business? The answer may be more simple than you think. Optimizing your website by leveraging reliable hosting providers as well as using efficient analytics, cloud (SaaS for instance) tools and great CMS are all good ways to go forward. However, page speed is also a great way to remain on top of the game.
Not only will it be good for customer retention and drive further business, but also impact your overall rankings on Google and bounce rate (the faster the site pages load the lower your bounce rate ill be). This is where the Google-created and currently open source Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project comes in.
This is a service that I think may have started out being heavily tailored for mobile site optimization, particularly mobile sites relying on Google’s and WordPress’ services (hence why it has mobile in its name). However, even though the focus may still mostly be mobile, since websites are a bit more limited in content if they want to utilize AMP or Web admins have to make some compromises, it is a Web service that can be leveraged across browsers, operating systems, hosting platforms and CMSs.
You can check out the scope of support by visiting the AMP Project website. Administrators of content platforms such as Yahoo, Bing, Google, LinkedIn and Flipboard can all tap into it; and it supports various CMSs besides WordPress — such as Drupal and Squarespace.
The service is automatic because the host detects the client connecting to a website and decides which version of a website to load: the AMP or non-AMP version. Thus two versions of a website exist for users to tap into and leverage for different consumers and needs.
And get this. There is even a browser that taps into AMP versions of websites automatically and makes searching for optimized websites seamless. It is called the AMP Browser. You can read more about it and download it here.
“The AMP Browser is an open source web browser based on Chromium, which accelerates web browsing by automatically loading AMP & MIP web pages, saves bandwidth by enabling data compression, and respects privacy by blocking ads and tracking scripts.”
Here is information on how to get started creating an AMP page from scratch. As you may have noticed, it is definitely something worth doing and shouldn’t cost you anything, but your time to invest in. The downside of AMP is that it is a Google service, thus it resides on its servers and on top of it analytics leave a lot to be desired.
Using Sistrix PageSpeed Insight and Various Analytics to Drive Further Results
Once you have a website that is run efficiently with good Google rankings, SEO optimization, relevant content and good page load speeds, you should tap into analytics to see your website grow in business and traffic. You can also monitor of follow other top domains to see what works and what doesn’t.
Sistrix is a service that tests various things in terms of Google rankings related to the top domains on the Web. You have to register an account in order to use it, however it is recommended you do if you run a business online. Here is what its current rankings lists as the most relevant and search-friendly websites on the Web right now:
You may have noticed that the big players with a lot of resources are on top of this game. This is no secret as they have the best optimized SEO, huge number of visitors and many inbound as well as outbound links.
Here is one of the websites analyzed that is losing tremendously on Google’s Web rankings and overall online presence.
As you see, the domain’s social media presence as well as SEO are down by a lot, hence this overall low performance on Google rankings. This shows you that you need a social media presence to keep those visitors coming and inbound links being generated.
The nice thing about Sistrix besides all these options it offers to check rankings, relevant keywords that work and overall site performance, is it offers a system to keep your website optimized. Here is how this option looks like once you register with Sistrix:
However, now that we got to the bottom of some of the things that matter in keeping a site optimized, lets look at what websites and businesses need to keep their sites relevant and continuing to provide great customer retention.
You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insight analytics to test your results once applying AMP. To check an AMP site using these analytics, simply add /amp to the end of the domain’s url.
I checked TheWrap.com on PageSpeed Tools Insight and it only got a 55/64 then 59/68 second time I checked. When I enabled amp as part of the url thus implementing thewrap.com/amp in the test I still got a poor score of 49/60. Southernliving.com got a score of 42/70 then 57/69 second time I checked. When I checked the amp version with /amp/ at end of url thus southernliving.com/amp/ I got a better score of 74/80 (thus in this case it was a clear difference maker). Alternet.org is a funny case because its mobile speed actually got a better score than the desktop. It got 69/52 twice I checked. When I checked Alternet.org/amp/, it got much higher results of 83/87 with AMP enabled. Again, solidifying the results that AMP improves speeds.
Acceelrated Mobile Pages Offers Low Barriers of Entry
Again, this is where boosting website load speeds will play a crucial role for good rankings and overall customer retention. Page speed is really one of the things that you cannot go wrong with when looking at ways to optimize a site that already has great inbound link presence, social media presence, SEO, and quality as well as relevant content. Again, I want to stress the importance this is particularly for mobile users and particularly for eCommerce websites.
The nice thing about AMP is that it is flexible so both experienced html coders and novice web designers relying on CMSs can tap into it. WordPress has a simple plugin that will do the job for any company running on WordPress’ servers as long as the company or user has a business plan with WordPress. However, WordPress by itself is very limited in terms of creating Web content (relies heavily on themes for one), so this solution isn’t for everyone.
For beginner Web designers, smaller companies without a lot of resources, admins of already-existing WordPress sites and those who do not need fancy websites or many features, using a WordPress plugin is a smart and easy way to tap into AMP. For everyone else, AMP should be at least considered as both AMP and non-AMP versions of a website can run simultaneously and the service will automatically run AMP when possible. Here is some insight the way this works from WordPress plugin’s section on AMP:
“With the plugin active, all posts on your site will have dynamically generated AMP-compatible versions, accessible by appending /amp/ to the end your post URLs. For example, if your post URL is http://example.com/2016/01/01/amp-on/, you can access the AMP version at http://example.com/2016/01/01/amp-on/amp/. If you do not have pretty permalinks enabled, you can do the same thing by appending ?amp=1, i.e. http://example.com/?p=123&=1”
Keep in mind that websites running an AMP version will need to keep the content the same across both versions of a website as Google eliminates bait-and-switch tactics that are sometimes prevalent on the Web. According to a statement from Google’s blog late last year, the company rolled an updated to AMP addressing this issue:
“Starting Feb 1, 2018, the policy requires that the AMP page content be comparable to the (original) canonical page content…
“In a small number of cases, AMP pages are used as teaser pages which create a particularly bad user experience since they only contain minimal content. In these instances, users have to click twice to get to the real content. Below is an example of how this may look like: a brief text of the main article and then asking the user to click to visit another page to complete reading the article…
“Where we find that an AMP page doesn’t contain the same critical content as its non-AMP equivalent, we will direct our users to the non-AMP page. This does not affect Search ranking. However, these pages will not be considered for Search features that require AMP, such as the Top Stories carousel with AMP.“
Thus, if you want to create two versions of a website, one for AMP users and one for non-AMP users, make sure the two versions are as close as possible content-wise and free of clutter. The AMP version will also be more limited in terms of ads or scripts.
AMP is something worth tapping into for many Web hosts and will keep gaining adoption across the Web with social media networks, mobile websites and CMS services relying more and more on its presence. Google is backing it and has a lot of saying power with further revisions, thus it isn’t totally independent or open source in terms of freedom. However, that is a price worth paying for in order to get great page speed and high rankings.