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The Benefits of Dynamic Rendering For SEO

March 3, 2022
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JavaScript web pages greatly complicate search engine optimization, which is quite tricky. SEO is considered the fundamental part of digital marketing. But if you turn on your imagination, it can remind you of a famous circus act with a juggler spinning several plates on a pole. What about technical SEO? Let’s imagine it as walking on the tightrope…and juggling.

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So what is JavaScript SEO? If it were a circus act, what would it be? Perhaps, walking on the tightrope and juggling…with fireballs. And that would be an accurate definition. Thanks to these understandable associations, you can see that it’s a tricky balancing process. Your website should be easy to handle by search engines, work better and load faster than competitors at the same time.

And now the good news is that technical SEO is one of the ranking factors that you can control. After all, it’s what makes your JavaScript website easy to read and understand for Google and provides visitors with a good web experience. This is a great benefit, don’t you agree? Further, we will detail the benefits of dynamic rendering for SEO, its importance for the SEO health of your site, and ways of implementing it. But first, what is dynamic rendering in simple words?

Google Visits Your Web Page. What’s Next?

As you know, Google’s best helper is an automated program or a bot that indexes and catalogs every web page on the World Wide Web. Google tries to give the user the best possible result for a given request. To do this, it carefully analyzes SEO dynamic content on a given web page and assesses its relative importance compared to other web pages on the same topic.

Most modern web development uses three primary programming languages: HTML and JavaScript. Google handles HTML by crawling and indexing it. First, Googlebot looks at the HTML on the page. Then, it pays attention to the text, outgoing links on the page, and keywords. The next step is to index the page. Google and other search engines prioritize content presented in static HTML.

Rendering JavaScript rendering is more complex, as it consists of three steps:

  • Crawl
  • Render
  • Index

Google processes JavaScript content multiple times to fully understand its content. This is the essence of site rendering. When Google meets JavaScript on a web page, it puts it into the queue. Then, Google renders it when it has the resources for that.

What’s The Difficulty With JavaScript SEO?

HTML acts as a standard in web development. First, search engines can efficiently process content based on it. For example, Javascript is more resource-intensive, so search engines are more difficult to process. This shows that search engine budgets are spent on JavaScript web pages. Google claims its search engine can handle JavaScript. However, this is still not a fact.

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The crawling, indexing, and page rendering require significantly more resources. The situation is even worse with other search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo. This is because they cannot handle JavaScript at all. As a result, search engines need even more resources to render your JavaScript pages. Unfortunately, this means that many elements of your page will not be indexed at all.

For example, Google and other search engines may miss your metadata and canonical tags, essential for SEO. The fact is that Javascript provides a great user experience that allows you to create dynamic websites that bring users into indescribable excitement. However, the question remains. How do you create a modern web experience without harming SEO? Many developers choose the server-side rendering way.

Client-Side/Server-Side Rendering VS.

Many JavaScript frameworks like Angular, Vue, and React use client-side rendering. They wait for your web page content to fully load before doing it in the browser on the user side. Simply put, they render the content to users, not on the server for search engines to view. As a result, client-side rendering is cheaper than other alternatives. Along with the price, the load on servers and developers also falls.

However, not everything is smooth, as the user experience can worsen. For example, it increases page load time, leading to a high bounce rate. Client-side rendering also affects bots. Googlebot uses a two-wave indexing system. The first step is to crawl and index static HTML, and the second step is to crawl JavaScript content. Again, a bot may miss your JavaScript content during the indexing process.

So what to do about it? For most development teams, it’s server-side rendering: configuring JavaScript so that the content is rendered on your site’s server, not in a client-side browser. JavaScript content is rendered in advance, making it readable to bots. SSR also has performance advantages. Bots and users get a faster experience without the risk of incomplete indexing or missing content.

Server-Side Rendering: To Be Or Not To Be?

To answer this question, first think: is server-side rendering easy for SEO? The answer is no. Otherwise, JavaScript SEO wouldn’t be an issue, and every website would be doing it. Unfortunately, it takes a competent web development team to implement SSR, and the implementation process itself would be expensive, lengthy, and complicated. Plus, it doesn’t work with third-party JavaScript.

Websites that use server-side rendering often require external JavaScript libraries or plugins that are difficult to set up. For example, Angular requires the Angular Universal Library to enable server-side rendering. Therefore, enabling SSR in Angular involves a lot of moving parts. And that’s a significant risk since one piece that gets out of place can cause search results to fail.

On the other hand, React uses the Next.JS library to provide server-side rendering. As a result, developers will require an additional server to incur additional costs. So how do you make frameworks like React SEO-friendly to please your customers and search engines? Once again, dynamic rendering comes to the rescue.

Dynamic Rendering In A Nutshell

Dynamic rendering is delivering content based on the user agent requesting it. In other words, it’s a universal solution that gives the best of both worlds. It acts as static HTML for bots and dynamic JavaScript for users.

As a result, bots get a machine-readable, stripped-down, text-and-links-only version of your web page. This makes it easier for them to crawl and analyze the page. Users, in turn, get a usable, fully optimized web page that increases the length of their interaction with a website.

The Way To Implement Dynamic Rendering

Implementing dynamic rendering consists of three steps.

  1. Installing a dynamic renderer to transform the dynamic content into static HTML.
  2. Selection of the user agents that should receive static content (Googlebot, Bingbot, LinkedInbot, and others). As a side note, implementing a cache or increasing the number of HTTP requests to store content will solve your server’s slow work. It’s also worth considering whether your customers will need content for desktop or mobile devices. Using dynamic serving will help them in providing an appropriate solution.
  3. Configuring servers to deliver static HTML.

Checking Your Configuration

To verify that dynamic rendering is working correctly, you need to perform:

  • Mobile-Friendly Test: This is a feature of the Google Search Console’s suite of tools. In September 2020, Google moved to mobile-first indexing for all sites. In other words, Google considers the mobile version of your site before the desktop version. So you should optimize your site for mobile devices.
  • URL Inspection Tool: You need to ensure that your site is appropriately indexed. The URL checker tool will help you with this.
  • Fetch as Google: Needed to determine the effectiveness of your dynamic rendering. It lets you ensure that individual URLs are correctly sent for indexing
  • Structured Data Testing Tool: It will be handy to use schema markup on your site. It ensures that your dynamic rendering does not break the schema markup.

Use Cases

Dynamic rendering solves all JavaScript SEO problems perfectly. This is a significant advantage. Dynamic rendering quickly solves crawl budget problems while being cost-effective. A bonus is a fact that it does not require advanced technical knowledge. So when should you use this helpful tool?

  • A large website with a lot of content that changes frequently will be perfect for dynamic rendering. This is because large sites are often and quickly indexed. Thus, it is essential that all pages are indexed and adequately reflected in the SERPs. Dynamic rendering does a great job of this.
  • Dynamic rendering will also be a lifesaver for sites with embedded social media walls or widgets.

Is Dynamic Rendering Cloaking?

Cloaking is the practice of providing markedly different content to search engine bots and humans. It’s a black hat SEO tactic. While the short-term benefits of cloaking are appealing, the potential risks are still not worth it. Dynamic rendering is not masking if it provides the same final content to search engines and users. However, it’s a cloaking if you provide co

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How To Optimize A JavaScript Site For Search Engines

Many of the processes are similar to what SEO professionals are used to, with a few differences.

On-Page SEO

The usual on-page SEO rules for content: title and meta description tags, alt attributes, meta robot tags, and more applications. A couple of problems the developers run into while working with JavaScript websites are that title, and description tags can be reused, and images are rarely set to alt attributes.

Allow Crawling

Don’t block access to resources. Google needs to access and load resources to render pages correctly.

URLs

Change URLs when you update content. You should know that JavaScript frameworks use a router that allows mapping to pure URLs. Don’t use octotorps (the # symbol) for routing. This is mainly a problem in Vue and some early versions of Angular. In a URL like abc.com/#something, the server usually wholly ignores the part following # symbol.

Duplicate Content

In the case of JavaScript, multiple URLs can lead to the same content, leading to problems with duplicate content. This can be caused by different registers, identifiers, parameters in identifiers. All of the variants below can exist.

  • domain.com/Abc
  • domain.com/abc
  • domain.com/123
  • domain.com/?id=123

The solution is simple. Choose one version you want to index and set canonical tags.

SEO Plugins

In JavaScript frameworks, these are usually called plugins. There are versions for most popular frameworks such as React, Vue, and Angular. You can find them by searching for “framework + module name”, for example, “React Helmet”. Meta tags, Helmet and Head, are examples of popular modules with similar functionality that will allow you to install many popular tags needed for SEO.

Error Pages

Because JavaScript frameworks don’t run on the server-side, they can’t cause a server-side error, such as a 404. You have a couple of different options in the case of error pages:

  • Use a JavaScript redirect to the page that responds with a 404 status code
  • Add a no-index tag and some error message, such as “404 page not found,” to the nonresponding page.

Sitemap

JavaScript frameworks usually have routers for mapping to pure URLs. Most of these routers have an additional module that can also create sitemaps. You can find them by searching for “your system + router sitemap”, such as “Vue router sitemap” (Vue router with sitemap). In addition, many rendering solutions may also have a sitemap option. So again, google them for “system + sitemap,” such as “Gatsby sitemap,” and you’re sure to find a solution that already exists.

Redirects

SEO professionals are used to 301/302 redirects on the server-side. On the other hand, JavaScript is usually done on the client-side. This is not a problem because Google handles the pages received by the redirect. However, redirects still pass on all the signals, such as PageRank. These redirects can usually be found in the code by “window.location.href”.

Internationalizing

There are a few options for different frameworks to support some of the features needed for internationalization, such as hreflang. These are usually ported to other systems and include localization and internationalization or all the same modules used for header tags, like Helmet, which can be used to add the desired tags.

Delayed Loading

There are modules for handling delayed loading. If you haven’t already noticed, there are modules for almost everything you need when working with JavaScript frameworks. Lazy and Suspence are the most popular modules for deferred loading. It would be wise to delay loading images, but don’t delay loading content. This can be done with JavaScript, but content may not be built correctly by search engines that way.

Conclusion

JavaScript SEO is a very complex digital marketing mechanism. Otherwise, JavaScript is a tool to be used wisely, not something SEOs need to avoid. But, if you put in the effort, you always find a solution. And here, it is dynamic rendering, which will reduce the burden on your web development team and save your budget. So make Google finally work with you instead of against you.

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