We previously wrote about how to surface and isolate AMP traffic in Search Console. Since then, Search Console received a big upgrade, leading to updates to methods, which are highlighted in this article.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) offer a blazing-fast alternative to your site’s mobile experience and provide a net SEO benefit. Once you’ve launched your AMP pages, Google Search Console is a great way to monitor the organic gains.
In a previous article, we highlighted the multiple steps needed to create and verify properties, set up property sets, and download data. But with the new iteration of Search Console, the steps are a lot easier. Here’s what you need to know to get the most from Search Console.
1. Set up your Search Console Property
In Search Console, click the dropdown in the upper right and choose “Add Property.” You’ll be given a prompt for two different property types:
A URL-Prefix Property is set using only URLs with the specified prefix. So, if your site is https://www.example.com, you would choose that. But, this means if you also receive traffic at http://www.example.com or https://example.com, you won’t see that search-performance data.
Verifying up an URL-Prefix Property is similar to the steps in the previous version of Search Console, where you can verify using an HTML file, meta tag on your home page, Google Analytics/Tag Manager account, or domain name provider.
Pros: It’s really easy to set up. You don’t have to own the domain.
Cons: Given the specificity of URL-Prefix, you need to ensure your canonical references are set properly at all times. If they change, you risk losing that data, or will have to set up multiple URL-Prefix Properties for any variant that may occur.
Domain properties are more robust in that they will track any and all variants of your domain. So, if you own example.com, a domain property will share performance data for https://www.example.com, or http://example.com, or https://additional.example.com.
Verifying a domain property requires adding a record to your DNS configuration for your domain. If you don’t own your domain, this can be difficult.
Pros: You only have to set it up once and it’ll catch data for any variant of your domain that may show up in search.
Cons: You need to have ownership of your domain and the ability to add lines to your DNS record. If you’re on a free wordpress/blogspot/etc. account, you’re out of luck.
2. Verify AMP Pages are Indexed
AMP status can be found in the Enhancements Subgroup:
The enhancements subgroup contains other options, including the Structured Data Report, Mobile Usability, Job Listings, and more. It houses all the additional options you can offer on your site via structured data.
From here, you’ll be able to see how many AMP pages are indexed, whether some have warnings, or if there are some with errors. You also can see the types of warning/error messages and some example pages, making it much easier to triage and remedy any blocking issues:
3. Check out AMP Performance in Search
Isolating AMP traffic is now done via the Search Appearance filter in the performance section:
AMP Non-Rich results occur when you see an AMP page in regular search. AMP Articles are those that show up in the news carousel.
Once you set the filter, you can see performance of your AMP pages:
Now that I can see AMP data, how do I start digging in?
Comparing AMP to non-AMP mobile traffic in search console can be a little tricky, but with the right tools it’s manageable. There are a few different ways to get at the data, including exporting directly from the page, using the Search Console API, or using third party tools such as Search Analytics for Sheets.
Exporting from Search Console
Like in the previous version, Search Console includes an export feature on most reports, noted by the icon of the arrow pointing down:
The export feature will download the data as a CSV or save it as a Google Sheet in your Drive account. From there, you can do whatever you like to compare performance or create visualizations.
One major drawback to the export feature is it limits to the top 1,000 entries available. For smaller sites, this isn’t a problem, but if you’re a large retail site or publisher, you could be missing a major portion of your traffic.
Search Console API
Google’s API for Search Console allows you to send requests and directly download performance data into whatever database or text format you prefer. Making API calls to retrieve search console data can be tricky, especially when formatting the query. Thankfully, Google offers a Search Console API explorer that can help navigate how to put queries together.
Search Analytics For Sheets
There are third-party tools that use the Search Console API to download data, and one of them is an extension you can add to Google Sheets, Search Analytics For Sheets. It provides the power of the Search Console API without the learning curve of formatting queries. It also offers backup services and other ways to automate data collection. This is our preferred method for retrieving data.
How to compare AMP and non-AMP traffic
Raw comparisons of performance metrics can be helpful, but for a direct, 1-to-1 comparison, we recommend matching via page or query.
Sometimes a query won’t surface an AMP page or there’s a difference between how users find a site between mobile and desktop. Doing a query-matched comparison allows you to limit the comparison scope to the terms that are showing AMP traffic.
Depending on the scope of your AMP deployment, there may be some pages that are otherwise not included, such as cart pages, account pages, or anything that doesn’t necessarily have utility as a search landing page but gets search traffic nonetheless. Isolating performance just to AMP pages ensures a more fair comparison.
Navigational vs Non-Navigational Searches
Depending on what your site offers, you may want to exclude navigational or branded searches from your comparisons. These searches tend to operate independently of most SEO efforts. For instance, our site sees a jump in navigational search traffic whenever we are featured at a trade show or in a publication.
The Search Console API allows you to aggregate data in three different ways: Default, by Property, and by Page. Property aggregation treats an individual query as an individual impression, while page aggregation counts every instance of your site in a search page as an impression. Here’s an example for an individual query:
As you can see, the same site appears multiple times for this search term on the results page, and so page aggregation returns more impressions, and as such a lower CTR and worse average position.
Filtering for an AMP-related search appearance requires page aggregation, so we recommend using page aggregation for all API calls. This eliminates concern around comparing an awesome property-level pre-AMP CTR against a less fantastic page-level AMP CTR.
Things to keep in mind
Search Console does have some idiosyncrasies that can be frustrating if you’re not aware of them. Thankfully, we’ve been building reports and studies using these tools for quite some time. Here are a few that we’ve encountered.
The whole is less than the sum of the parts
Sometimes, the sum of search appearance variants can exceed the total. In discussions with Google, we believe it’s related to some results counting for multiple search appearances, so a click on an AMP article also counts as a click on a rich result.
As you can see in the image below, this site received 54,700 clicks on mobile. However, if you add up the four search appearances that received traffic, it reports 78,895 clicks.
The Search Appearance filter is a radio button/equals only
Previously, we could filter AMP traffic by using a page filter for any page containing “amp.” This allowed us to combine AMP non-rich results, AMP articles, and potential rich results that were AMP. The new search appearance filter, however, is a radio button. This means in the API a search appearance filter must equal AMP_BLUE_LINK for non-rich results, and AMP_TOP_STORIES for AMP articles.
Finding AMP performance in Search Console can be straightforward, but to really find insights additional steps are needed. Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to knowing just how much traffic AMP is driving to your site.