Practical Ecommerce

SEO: AMP for Ecommerce

News on the mobile web is now four times faster, thanks to Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages.

AMP, as the project is known, is targeted at Google mobile searchers looking for long-form editorial content. Mobile searchers experience AMP pages when they go to Google’s mobile search results, which now show a carousel filled with AMP-enabled news content.

A sample of a Google AMP search result. <em>Source: Google Blog.</em>

A sample of a Google AMP search result. Source: Google Blog.

The AMP carousel is at the top of the page, so it’s beneficial to attempt to gain placement there. More mobile searchers will see content in the carousel than will see even the third organic listing on the search results page. For the rest of the listings on page one, visibility will decrease because the carousel and paid search ads will push other organic content farther down.

The carousel today includes only news content. Ecommerce sites are less likely to rank for search queries that Google associates with long-form content. So your ecommerce-related rankings and visibility on those search results pages should not decrease unless you’re a large enough brand to rank on a primarily content-related search query.

So where’s the play for ecommerce? Blogs and other editorial sites can utilize the AMP framework to speed their load times for mobile customers and potentially gain access to the AMP carousel. In the future, AMPs may boost search engine optimization. Google hasn’t said officially that implementing AMP will lead to a boost in mobile search rankings. But the implication is there in Google’s algorithmic actions and comments regarding mobile search performance. In particular, load time and page speed are already Google ranking factors, so improving these areas is already benefitting organic search.

The AMP project is starting out small with its focus on news. But ecommerce and other content forms are planned to be added in the future.

What Is AMP?

As similar mobile experience initiatives Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles have launched, Google has developed its own open source framework to “dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web.”

The AMP framework is an open technical standard that will speed mobile page load, include structured data to mark up content, and streamline ads and other more complex code to improve mobile experience. AMPs will reportedly load four times faster than non-accelerated pages and use a tenth of the cellular data that normal mobile pages require.

To do this, AMP requires sites to create a duplicate version of each page using the AMP framework. But it may not be as daunting as it sounds.

WordPress, which many ecommerce sites use to publish long-form content, is on board with AMP already. WordPress powers approximately 25 percent of the web; involving WordPress early on was a smart partnership for Google. WordPress has already integrated AMP into every site hosted on WordPress servers. For sites that host their own WordPress implementation, an AMP plugin is available that offers reportedly instant compliance with the AMP protocol.

For ecommerce sites using other platforms to manage their long-form content pages, developers will need to become familiar with a subset of HTML called AMP HTML, which is really just a subset of the larger HTML standard with some custom tags and properties added into the mix. There are also some restrictions involving CSS, fonts, and images tagging that developers won’t be used to.

JavaScript is allowed, but is also narrowed down to an AMP JS subset of the standard JavaScript developers are used to working with. Workarounds and hacks are already available for functions that AMP doesn’t support, if your developers are willing to search through the open source community forums to find them.

Lastly, an AMP content delivery network is an option for sites that want additional performance by caching their content before delivering to searchers.

For more information, head to the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project site.

Which Content Could Benefit?

The AMP Project is light on details about what constitutes as “news” when it says that news is the first type of content supported. But articles, recipes, reviews, and video are the content types offered as examples.

For most ecommerce sites, the primary content type outside of sales-funnel-related pages will be articles. But let’s be clear on what constitutes an article. The AMP framework relies on structured data outlined by the Schema.org standard to define what type of content is on a page. Schema.org uses this definition of an article: “An article, such as a news article or piece of investigative report. Newspapers and magazines have articles of many different types and this is intended to cover them all.”

By the strict reading of this definition, I can’t think of a single ecommerce site that would offer articles. But consider the types of articles home, hobby, automotive, lifestyle, and other magazines would typically offer. How-to content, tips, trends — all of these are prime article fodder for magazines and newspapers alike.

Thus, a “Buy Two, Get One Free” sale page is not an article. It’s a piece of content and probably somewhat textual in nature. But it’s neither an article in the way that the standards define articles nor the way Google regards articles.

But your step-by step or long-form content page telling customers how to waterproof their shoes, how to tie a tie, what the difference is between different types of wrenches and sockets, how to dice and chop like a pro — these are all articles. Your blog may also contain articles if it isn’t too inwardly focused on what your company wants to say versus what your consumers want to hear. As long as your content is geared toward giving consumers information that they want in a format that includes a decent amount of text, you have an article.

If your content is based on marketing-speak or focused too heavily on your internal initiatives instead of your consumers’ needs or desires, don’t bother to implement AMP.

On the other hand, if you want more searchers to find your content and come to your site to learn and browse, consider creating true articles and using the AMP framework to deliver that content more quickly to more mobile searchers.

Jill Kocher
Jill Kocher
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Comment ( 1 )

  1. Patrick O'Doherty April 19, 2016 Reply

    A review of Google Analytics data from 81 of my customer’s websites revealed that mobile web browsing has plateaued over the last couple of years to about 40% of total browsing, and that this figure doesn’t seem to be increasing. Find out what implications this might have for your website: http://www.yarraweb.com.au/920/the-rise-and-plateau-of-mobile-use-2010-2016/

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