High-CTR, high-intent searches are finally getting the AMP treatment.
In our experience, Google has historically preferred to serve canonical pages on navigational queries, instead of faster-loading AMP pages. The idea for doing that is someone who’s searching for a specific brand won’t mind a slower page load. However, that’s no longer the case. And it’s no surprise, as Google hinted at AMPConf this February that AMPs would begin rolling out for all queries, including navigational.
What is a Navigational Query?
Search queries are bucketed into three types: Informational, Transactional and Navigational.
Navigational queries are search queries entered with a particular brand in mind. These are searches for Ford, YouTube or Google, as opposed to going directly to the related URL. You know exactly what you’re looking for, and you just happen to be searching for it.
Informational queries are broad-type searches that could be represented by a wide variety of sites. Like searching for “souffle,” “disambiguation,” or “what’s the rule of threes,” these searches are often looking to answer a question.
Transactional queries indicate a searcher is ready to make a purchase of some sort. It could be as straightforward as “iPhone X for sale” but can also be more broad, such as “Bellingham breweries.” Regardless, the intent is to complete a transaction.
Why Wasn’t AMP Showing on Navigational Queries?
Unfortunately, not all AMP pages are as well designed and fully featured as the AMP pages built by WompMobile. Historically, some AMP pages have had limited designs and features. Our assumption is that when a mobile searcher performed a navigational query, Google assumed that searcher would rather have a slower experience than a potentially limited experience.
However, in the past year, AMP has added more features and functionality, notably amp-bind and amp-list. Today, AMP pages are at feature parity with their canonical counterparts, only much faster.
Starting June 12, Navigational Queries are Serving AMP Pages
On June 12, in the process of doing a performance report for a client, we noticed a stark shift in AMP traffic share to their homepage:
Prior to June 12, AMP traffic to their homepage was around 30% of their total organic mobile homepage traffic. It’s now up to 99%.
We looked into this for other clients with an AMP homepage, and in every instance, AMP has become the primary organic traffic driver. Looking into the reported queries, most of the traffic shifted on branded and navigational terms.
The navigational shift is officially on.
At AMPConf 2018, when Madison Miner, WompMobile CEO asked the AMP panel why Google did not show AMP results for navigational queries, Dave Besbris responded by saying “our intent is to show AMPs whenever they are available.”
In May, we noticed AMP pages showing up on certain navigational queries but not enough to make a strong claim. The navigational queries often were longer terms, including the brand plus a product they sell. On June 12, however, it looks like navigational queries are now being served AMP pages. These are the exact brand name and close variants of the brand.
Sitelinks in search still send visitors to the canonical page, as of this posting, even if the primary search link is AMP.
We’ve also found that the Google Search App on Android delivers the canonical results instead of AMP. So even though almost all searches are now serving AMP, there’s still potential for canonical pages to see mobile search traffic.
AMP Outperforming non-AMP on Navigational Queries
After spotting the switch for multiple clients, we investigated the queries now serving AMP pages. We found that there’s an improved position for most of the queries and overall positive CTR signals.
Positional improvements since June 12 have been strong, with an average gain of 2 positions.
For AMP queries in the top 5 SERPs, on average, they saw a gain of 1.3 positions from their previous non-AMP rank (which is similar to what we saw for an overall AMP launch in a previous post). There’s a positional gain that may be correlated to the overall speed boost from AMP.
CTR changes varied by client, with some seeing improvement as high as 9%, while others stayed relatively flat. In aggregate, there was about a 1% increase in CTR. Given the amount of articles with graphs of CTR vs position, it would stand that we’d see improvements overall. However, seasonal changes and user intent shifts can lead to fluctuations in CTR.
What does this mean for AMP
AMP has been growing over the years, adding functionality while maintaining the performance gains that are desired on the mobile web. As AMP matures – leading to better experiences for mobile users – WompMobile expects that Google will continue to integrate deeper with AMP, and soon display AMP pages in sitelinks and in the Google search app.