How Does Google AMP Compare To Regular Mobile Sites?

Google’s AMP Project has been underway for a few years now. It has evolved quite a bit since it was announced in 2016, partly due to the open source nature of the program. However, digital publishers are still on the fence about implementing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) on their websites.

We looked at AMP performance a little over a year ago and presented several caveats about when it might be a good idea for publishers to consider and when it might not be. Now, with some more data and even more sites using AMP, we can take a closer look at how AMP performs for publishers compared to their regular mobile site.

Below, I’ll share some findings from approximately a dozen different publisher websites that are leveraging both mobile AMP and regular mobile pages. I’ll highlight how AMP affected revenue, reader experience metrics (like bounce rate), and SEO or keyword rankings.

With Google representatives actively reaching out to publishers about AMP, a lot of websites are asking if AMP is finally worth considering.

google amp pages results

What are we comparing on AMP vs. regular mobile sites?

Digital publishers are likely considering a number of different factors when deciding whether or not AMP is the best mobile framework for their site.

Most publishers probably want to know 4 things:

  1. Will AMP make us more money?
  2. Will AMP improve reader experiences?
  3. Will AMP result in more organic traffic or improved SEO?
  4. Is it going to create new challenges or opportunities?

To best answer these questions, we’ll take a look at 12 websites that have been using AMP on their mobile visitors for the last 6 months.

The information below will include a look at basic reader experience metrics (bounce rate, time on site, and pageviews per visit), ad earnings per 1,000 visitors (EPMV), and any significant improvements in organic keyword rankings observed through 3rd party tools.

This should help us paint a pretty good picture of how mobile pages that are AMP compare vs. regular mobile pages on the same website.

CAVEAT ALERT: The nature of AMP means you cannot split traffic from traffic sources like organic search when the AMP tag is on the page. This means we aren’t comparing exact apples to apples. This means that the traffic going to the AMP URLs is not the exact same traffic going to the regular mobile pages even though it is all during the same timespan.

Google's AMP Perform Compare To Regular Mobile Sites

The results of comparing AMP vs mobile-friendly pages

At the bottom, you can see the data from all the websites we looked at in a table. We’ve organized the key takeaways in the graphs below.

The websites all received more than 500,000 visitors per month and derive the majority of their website revenue from display ads.

Here’s a summary of what we learned:

  • The Non-AMP pages earned approximately 50% more ad revenue per 1,000 visitors
  • Average bounce rates were actually 9% lower on Non-AMP pages
  • The average site increased organic keyword rankings by approximately 7% over the course of 6 months
  • Average pageviews per visit were approximately 16% lower on AMP

amp page earnings

AMP user experiences

amp bounce rate

While several sites saw improvements in one of these categories using AMP vs. regular mobile pages, the average site performed worse with AMP than they did regular mobile pages.

In fact, only 1 of the 12 sites improved bounce rate, pageviews per visit, and EPMV using AMP. The rest of the sites that saw improvements with AMP in one category also saw decreases in performance in another category.

What’s more, only 1 website earned more revenue with AMP than they did regular mobile pages.

You can see how each site performed independently below.

AMPNon-AMPNon-AMP Difference
1.) Tech News Website
Bounce rate31%25%-19.35%
Pageviews Per Visit1.11.754.55%
EPMV$22.68$24.216.75%
Organic Keyword GrowthIncreased 1.19% in last 3-6 months
2.) Product Review WebsiteAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate32%35%9.37%
Pageviews Per Visit1.071.321.50%
EPMV$6.41$8.4231.36%
Organic Keyword GrowthIncreased 2.49% in last 3-6 months
3.) Health & Wellness NewsAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate17%16%-5.88%
Pageviews Per Visit1.11.29.09%
EPMV$3.34$14.48333.53%
Organic Keyword GrowthDecreased 11% in last 3-6 months
4.) Science Info WebsiteAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate19%17%-10.53%
Pageviews Per Visit1.11.427.27%
EPMV$0.45$2.01346.67%
Organic Keyword GrowthIncreased by 12% in last 3-6 months
5.) Popular DIY BlogAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate33%29%-12.12%
Pageviews Per Visit1.11.29.09%
EPMV$1.21$4.55276.03%
Organic Keyword GrowthIncreased by 12% in last 3-6 months
7.) Fashion BlogAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate27%19%-29.63%
Pageviews Per Visit1.11.29.09%
EPMV$2.47$7.56206.07%
Organic Keyword GrowthIncreased by 5.6% in last 3-6 months
8.) Tech Resources WebsiteAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate21%29%38.10%
Pageviews Per Visit1.21.20.00%
EPMV$1.65$3.2798.18%
Organic Keyword GrowthDecreased by 7.8% in last 3-6 months
9.) Financial News WebsiteAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate15%34%126.67%
Pageviews Per Visit1.41.3-7.14%
EPMV$14.49$7.34-49.34%
Organic Keyword GrowthIncreased by 31% in last 3-6 months
10.) Pro Wrestling NewsAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate30%22%-26.67%
Pageviews Per Visit1.11.427.27%
EPMV$2.98$8.50185.23%
Organic Keyword GrowthDecreased by 1% in last 3-6 months
11.) Travel Info WebsiteAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate24%23%-4.17%
Pageviews Per Visit1.6225.00%
EPMV$3.02$4.6955.30%
Organic Keyword GrowthIncreased by 7% in last 3-6 months
12.) Popular Recipe BlogAMPNon-AMP
Bounce rate18%19%5.56%
Pageviews Per Visit1.21.38.33%
EPMV$3.34$8.12143.11%
Organic Keyword GrowthDecreased by 6% in last 3-6 months

Comparing these frameworks side-by-side

Google has worked very hard to push AMP across the ecosystem. It is more popular than ever and we are seeing actual Google account representatives actively reaching out to publishers in an effort to evangelize the framework. This has led to greater adoption and improved acceptance among many publishers.

However, to date, many publishers have abandoned AMP or been reluctant to make the transition due to concerns about ad earnings. As we saw in our small study, AMP pages are likely to earn less from ads than a typical mobile web page.

amp news - google search

That said, the benefit of AMP is that it is fast and gives publishers a priority in places like the AMP carousel in Google Search. For news publishers, this has been a big reason to adopt AMP. It seemingly provides a big traffic opportunity that wouldn’t exist without AMP.

However, non-news publishers have hoped that AMP would provide some type of organic traffic or SEO boost. While Google has stated for a long time that AMP is not a consideration for how they rank pages, many have hoped that AMP implementation might prove otherwise.

Unfortunately, for publishers experimenting with AMP, most have not seen a major increase in organic keyword rankings as a result. While most did see organic keyword improvements in our study, the improvements they saw were not different from the typical growth most had been experiencing prior to AMP. In fact, only 3 of the sites saw keyword improvements beyond 10% growth.

While Google has said website speed is a small ranking factor, they’ve also conceded that it really only affects very slow websites. Most publishers with an average mobile site are unlikely to see ranking improvements from the increased speed of AMP.

Honestly, when you look at the comparison, AMP does not seem to offer a lot of value based on the data that is available right now — unless you’re a news publisher or can find ways to benefit from some of the other emerging AMP features like Stories.

You can read about more considerations for AMP here.

AMP is fast, but are readers having better experiences?

I think one of the surprising things we’ve found in this small study — and other experiments we’ve done — is that while AMP is usually faster than a regular mobile website it doesn’t necessarily provide a better visitor experience to readers.

Google has long pushed the narrative that fast = better experience. They’ve shared the slide below at a lot of presentations on this subject.

amp page speed average

In many cases — including the study above — we’ve found that bounce rates (a single page visit) go up when using AMP. Additionally, pageviews per visit are also lower

Part of this may just be the nature of AMP. AMP websites are cached at Google.com and often feature remedial navigation that potentially harms the ability for a publisher to coax a reader into other parts of the site.

Higher bounce rates could also be due to the carousel or UX of AMP on mobile devices. It is easier to swipe back to return to the SERP and the URL bar features a Google address as opposed to the publisher URL.

All that being said, AMP probably does provide Google searchers with better experiences in some situations. It may provide them with answers from a website quicker and faster than before. This certainly fulfills Google’s goal, but not always the publishers.

None of us see the relationship between the SERP (search engine results page) and the publisher site except for Google.

So is AMP better for UX? While a closer look at actual website engagement is needed on a broader scale, it is definitely not a given that AMP provides a better user experience. It likely does for some readers but not for all of them.

What’s the final verdict on AMP vs. mobile pages?

AMP is a unique tool for publishers. Honestly, it would be a framework that could best be applied in dynamic circumstances. For example, the ideal AMP scenario would be to provide AMP versions of a site to visitors on a slow connection, or to visitors who have previously shown to prefer AMP experiences

Unfortunately, this kind of AMP implementation does not yet exist. This means that many publishers that experience results like the ones above will either avoid AMP or abandon it after testing.

The good news is that Google has also been very supportive of PWAs (progressive web apps). PWAs are very different from AMP, but offer publishers with a lot of attractive features that may make them more attractive than regular mobile pages.

We talked about the differences between PWAs and AMP here.

pwa google ranking signal

PWAs may ultimately emerge as the ecosystem framework preference over something like AMP if Google continues to support the evolution and adoption of these types of mobile frameworks.

Until then, the final verdict on mobile frameworks is to really to do your homework. All sites are likely to have different experiences; however, AMP has not yet proven to be a viable strategy for consistently assisting with revenue or better visitor experiences.

Questions, thoughts, ideas? Leave them below and I’ll chime in.