Will A+ Content in JavaScript Hurt Your Amazon Performance?

If you’ve created Amazon A+ pages in the last two years, the design of your product pages falls into one of three categories:

  • The classic era, that beautiful, fleeting time of custom, hard-coded CSS and HTML
  • The brief templates era, aka Vendor Central’s time of growing pains
  • The present, as-yet-unnamed modules era

So, depending on when your Amazon A+ pages were published, they could fall into a variety of states of accessibility, mobile friendliness, and visual attractiveness. What can we say? When a company decides to rest uneasily on day one in perpetuity, they can be a fickle beast to deal with.

However, Amazon recently threw another question mark into this heady stew: they appear to be converting older A+ pages, namely hard-coded custom and template-based product pages, into JavaScript.

Stay with me here.

JavaScript is a vital part of your online experience, whether you know it or not. It helps websites take in input from you, and it helps customize your online experience and decrease loading times (among its many possibilities and virtues). However, using it to populate product pages with enhanced product content could be a major drawback for online sellers.

Hard-coded product content is a permanent part of the product page. You (or, more importantly in this situation, a search engine crawler) can look at the page’s source code and see how much liquid a water bottle holds or how wide a baby gate is.

This way, when a customer-to-be types “1-liter water bottle” or “36-inch baby gate” into Google or Amazon, that information is available to be indexed, helping your product information be more accessible—and helping your product page rank better for those searches. Great, right? We think so.

JavaScript = Invisible Product Content

Using JavaScript to populate that section of the product page means that, instead of your enhanced product content being right there amidst all the other fixed HTML and CSS that constitutes the product page, there’s a quick snippet of JavaScript that calls your product content from another server. The product page you see, complete with A+ content, exists in its full form only when you load it.

How JavaScript is viewed by you and a search engine

Its components, meaning those parts that Google, Bing, and other search engines can actually index, aren’t fixed and thus may not be crawled. (It can take a lot of effort to get your JavaScript crawled by a search engine – and there’s no guarantee your labors will be successful over time.)

Once a customer is on the product page, it’s not a big deal. However, your painstakingly crafted product content will no longer be as much help in getting them there.

Standard SEO best practices call for content to be contained exclusively in HTML (and viewable even if your CSS is turned off). Want to see what a search engine might see? Check it out in its Google Cache version to get a sense of what the search engine sees when it looks at your page. JavaScript menus are assumed to be unreadable to search engines; it’s a good bet to assume that product information contained in a page’s JavaScript snippets may also be overlooked.

Google can be capricious; what’s read today may not be tomorrow, and it’s best to opt for hard-coded content where possible to future-proof your content’s SEO value. Like text embedded in images, this attempt to simplify things on the dev side of your site can cause rippling problems that can piss off your customers–or keep them from getting to your product page in the first place.

This appears to be happening exclusively to older pages, and we would guess that these pages are a casualty of Amazon’s fierce new focus on mobile shoppers. If your older pages aren’t yet converted to JavaScript, it’s very likely that they will be soon. Keep an eye on your pages, and be ready to email your merchandiser if the switch happens.

For SEO’s sake (for both search engines and within Amazon itself), it’s worth it to keep your content hard-coded—even if it means switching to the modules. Some search engines may be able to index JavaScript enhanced content, but “some” and “may” aren’t parts of an effective, worthwhile online selling strategy.