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Accelerated Mobile Pages and Your Dealership

As mobile use explodes across the world, the Accelerated Mobile Pages project from Google has brought us faster mobile pages and better user experience. From ecommerce to news, businesses have been capitalizing on the mobile rush and developing AMP pages. Now it’s time for the auto-industry as a whole, and dealerships specifically, to get in on this before they get left behind and start using AMP for car dealers.

Why should dealers begin using AMP pages?  

 

Because Your Customers Are Mobile Customers

At the beginning of 2017, a Cars.com study found that smartphones are used for nearly half of all online car shopping activities, compared to 41% of activities done on a laptop or desktop. Of the 10 car shopping activities listed below, the first 7 are all done at a higher rate on mobile than on desktop or laptop.

  1. Viewing dealership map/directions
  2. Deciding on dealerships to visit
  3. Reading dealership reviews
  4. Looking at vehicle prices
  5. Viewing vehicle photos
  6. Reading vehicle reviews
  7. Reading editorial content on vehicles (i.e., Car & Driver articles)
  8. Reading dealership service department reviews
  9. Determining vehicle makes and models to research/look at
  10. Using a payment estimator

The point is that more and more car shoppers are going mobile – and that people prefer to do most of the important online car shopping activities on a mobile device. Dealers have an answer to this massive location shift – in fact, it’s one that Google has provided.

This is where dealership AMP comes in.

 

What is AMP?

AMP pages are everywhere. We can guarantee that if you do google searches on your mobile device, you’ve seen them.

An AMP version of a Bleacher Report article about the 2018 NFL Draft.

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It’s a free, open-source framework built to get mobile content to users faster and more efficiently. AMP pages are built to deliver the best content first and fastest, including ‘rich’ content like infographics, PDFs, videos, or even audio files.

Basically, dealership AMP pages, that is, pages built under the framework set up by the AMP project, are a barebones version of your content – including just the basics, the essential information with a small amount of design and minimal branding.

This stripped down design means that dealership AMP pages are fast. Crazy fast. AMP implementation cuts load time anywhere from 15% to 85% (depending on how fast your pages load to begin with), and uses eight times less data than traditional mobile-optimized pages, bringing load times down to what feels like an instant.

This process for creating these streamlined dealership AMP sites involves imposing guidelines. AMP guidelines mandate using a certain subset of HTML, and beyond some Javascript used to ensure swift rendering, there is very little room for fancy coding. This means that all dealership AMP pages operate with the same strict guidelines for content. Sure, it’s a constraint, but it does so in the interest of speed and website usability. Google wants all AMP pages to be equally easy to consume for all users, and the best way to do that is to constrain the design of a webpage. If it helps, think of dealership AMP pages like the race-car version of a mobile site. If you want to make a car as fast as possible, you beef up the engine and take out every unnecessary pound. It’s the same way with dealership AMP pages.

One of the other reasons that dealership AMP pages load so quickly is that they are technically hosted by Google. AMP relies on a cached copy of your site content to serve quickly and seamlessly, eliminating the need for your whole site to load for someone to begin enjoying your content. This does mean that you are relying on Google’s cache to serve your content, which some on the internet take issue with. For dealers, however, the drawbacks are minimal and the benefits outrageous.

 

The Financial Side of AMP

Dealership AMP pages are about offering better user experience, but beyond just helping users get better content faster, dealership AMP pages are actually a financial benefit to car dealers that adopt them. Once again proving that online profits and user experience are directly linked.

Google knows that when it comes to the internet, speed = revenue. That’s the truth, and it’s a particularly important truth when it comes to mobile for dealerships. A 100 millisecond slowdown in page speed correlates to a drop in conversion rates. One study found that a difference of 0.1 seconds resulted in a 2.4% decrease in conversion rate. 47% of people expect a website to load in two seconds or less, and just 1 second beyond that, up to just 3 seconds, decreases customer satisfaction by 16%.

A Forrester study found that adoption of AMP pages resulted in a 20% increase in sales conversion rate – driving over $200K in annual profit, a 10% year-over-year increase in AMP site traffic – driving over $75K in annual profit, and a full 60% increase in pages per visit – including a 60% increase in site visitors for an ecommerce website, which also reported that people spent twice as long on their site. The Forrester model predicts that a site with 4 million monthly vistors, would reap a 377% ROI.

 

Dealership AMP Implementation and Traffic

Dealership AMP pages aren’t hosted on the dealership domain, something that can seem counterintuitive to a lot of dealers, who would hope that their dealership AMP pages are easier to recognize as their own. This concern should not prevent dealers from developing dealership AMP pages. Dealership AMP pages can work the same way as those for news, with dealership AMP pages presenting users with information immediately, but allowing users to navigate to the full site from the dealership AMP page if they are interested in more information.

 

Challenges With AMP

Dealership AMP pages require coding knowledge. There’s no getting around it. If that particular skill isn’t in your wheelhouse, getting the benefits of dealership AMP pages may require hiring some coding talent to aid your efforts.

Another minor drawback for dealership AMP pages is that much of the design that makes a site unique is removed. All content is put into Google’s default format that allows only the most minimal branding or personality. Generally, this is to improve user experience. Instead of being bogged down by excessive design elements, users get access to the information they are looking for without a lot of the distractions. Some see this as an issue however, raising concerns that this will allow disreputable fake news sources publish content that looks as real and legitimate as the actual journalism it shares a carousel with.

We’re not huge proponents of widgets and add-ons in general, mostly because your website shouldn’t need tricks like that, but one of the disadvantages with dealership AMP pages is that because Google hosts the webpage, and because it has to conform to the strict guidelines in order to load so quickly, there’s no room for anything but pure information. So no chat features, pop-ups, or other lead-generation add-ons.

 

AMP and RWD

If I use dealership AMP pages, do I still have to bother with responsive web design? Yes. As cool as dealership AMP pages are, you still need a full dealership website with mobile-first RWD. AMP pages just can’t do the full range of car shopping activities yet, but that’s fine, because they don’t need to. Dealership AMP pages provide your shoppers with the information they crave in a fraction of a second.

 

Updates To AMP

In February 2018 Google will be implementing changes to AMP pages to address concerns that have arisen around link-baiting, the practice of posting an AMP page with only a small amount of the content and then soliciting a link to the full-site version. These pages are cheap tricks to drive traffic, and instead of providing users with all the information they want in just one speedly click, ends up requiring the user to click twice and wait for loading twice, exactly what Google is trying to avoid in the creation of AMP pages. To prevent this, Google is implementing rules that will mandate that content on AMP pages must be the same as content on the full site.

 

Is AMP a Ranking Factor?

Not yet. But it is predicted to be in the very near future.

We expect that AMP pages will soon provide a huge edge for dealerships looking to outperform their competition. As changes continue to come down the pipeline, we can guide you through them so you continue to outperform your competitors.