Does Your Hotel Website Need Google AMP?
At this point you’ve no doubt heard Google AMP being touted as the “next big thing” at every conference going back the past year. Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) promises to put your hotel's mobile website content at the very top of a search results page, and to serve it up at lightning speed.
Naturally it can cost a lot of time and money to implement a new technology like this, so before you dive in let’s take a step back and ask: Is Google AMP right for the hotel websites?
What is AMP Google?
Google AMP aims to solve the problem of sites loading too slowly on mobile devices, since about 40 percent of people abandon websites if they don’t load in three seconds or less. They accomplish this by essentially separating your website's content (a blog post or press release, for instance) from everything else around it (like your site design, other offers, and extra images).
In a way, it’s a return to the old days of having two separate sites for desktop and mobile devices, with the latter version being built using only Google-approved tools and code.
What’s Are the Pros of Using Google AMP?
Google AMP does significantly increase traffic and decrease load times, noble goals for everyone on the web. Google is the eight hundred pound gorilla of Internet searches, so keeping in lock step with what they recommend can pay real dividends in terms of site visibility and ranking. The odds of Google serving up your article increase dramatically if it is AMP compliant and in theory, getting that content faster will result in a better experience for your visitor.
Google AMP tends to work best for industries where different sites compete with each other over content on the same subject, like general how-to sites, newspapers, celebrity gossip aggregators, political blogs, and that sort of thing. In that kind of an environment, being the fastest and earliest can be a huge edge.
What Are the Cons of Using Google AMP?
Using Google AMP Could Result in Lower Revenue
While Google AMP can drive more traffic, some big publishers who have experimented with it have reported much lower revenue, as much as 50% lower in some cases. Generally the largest impact is on ad-reliant businesses, but “Call to Action” style websites like those in the hotel industry still have cause for concern.
It Removes Experiential Elements From Your Website
AMP strips out all content Google considers irrelevant, which includes ads, incentive offers, general site design, branding, etc., almost a throwback to the original World Wide Web when all you had to work with was text. That’s fine if you mostly deliver articles about stock prices, or what happened in Yemen last night, or the latest celebrity gossip.
But the hospitality industry relies less on timely content and more on enticing a potential guest to imagine themselves in your hotel's beautiful room, taking in the amazing sights around them, and engaging in a dialog with them about how your property can help their dreams become a reality.
That challenge becomes exponentially more difficult without the entire experience of your hotel website’s branding, design, and photography. It’s like inviting someone to tour your hotel while wearing a blindfold.
You Surrender Ownership of Your Hotel's Website to Google
To make your site work with Google AMP, it must be built using a Google-exclusive set of technologies. You essentially lock your hotel's website into Google’s code base, bypassing universally accountable best practices. And Google doesn’t always keep the products it launches alive – remember Google Checkout, Reader, or Wave? Neither does anyone else, because Google killed them a few years after they launched.
What happens if you code your entire website with Google AMP technology to serve up this content, and then Google abandons it? You run the risk of your information no longer being accessible, locked into a standard that no longer exists.
As Eric Brantner of “Advanced Web Ranking” put it:
“The point is: Google will ultimately make decisions that are profitable for Google, not for its partners. And when Google shuts things down, they leave partners who depended on those programs – or jumped through hoops to accommodate them – hanging out to dry. Given Google’s history, you have to tread cautiously when adopting one of their new platforms.”
Should You Use Google AMP for Your Hotel's Website?
GCommerce believes in building sites to be responsive, meaning your entire website – its branding, its design, the flavor and experience of your property – is delivered on every device, all in one code base. That makes updating and maintaining the code much easier and ensures a consistent visitor experience.
Sacrificing extra time, money, and effort to entice Google into serving your results to mobile users at the top of the page makes sense for highly-competitive, content-dependent businesses like news sites (CNN, Vox, Fox), sports sites (ESPN), and content focused blog sites (Buzzfeed, Barstool) where speed-to-market is the ONLY goal and content is basically retired after 48 hours. It does not, however, serve the needs of the hospitality industry, which relies on a complete user experience more than rapidly-changing text content.
Your potential guests want a restful, relaxing vacation, and want to be sold on that experience when they come to your hotel's site. Google AMP does not deliver that. Spend your money on better photography, on a richer overall experience, and on strategies that convert your visitors into guests.
Ultimately, GCommerce believes in defining a goal or problem, rather than letting a new technology become a goal unto itself. When evaluating a new technology, like Google AMP, our best practice is to step back and ask “What problem am I trying to solve with this?” In the case of AMP, if the answer is “I want to increase site speed on mobile” then there are alternative solutions that are cheaper and easier to implement we would recommend first before committing to AMP. That said, if the goal is to experiment with the newest trend in hopes of figuring out how to capitalize on AMP before your competition does... we can help with that too.