The most widely used websites in the world are made with the help of React (Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, etc.). And, while these websites are SEO-friendly, there are still some difficulties in React SEO combination.

So, what’s the trouble with React and SEO interaction? Our article will inform you about the main obstacles that prevent React from being SEO-friendly and will guide you on how to create a successful SEO-friendly website with React.

The Importance of SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of structuring and organizing a website to expand the volume of traffic by increasing its position and frequency of appearance in search engines, focusing on keywords that reveal the specifics of the site. It helps bring as many people to your web service as possible and helps create organic traffic on your website, turning your visitors into customers.

Search engines are getting smarter every day, and their search algorithms are constantly fine-tuned. Now they can understand what your blog is about or what types of products your website is selling. And, since, according to statistics, about 4 billion people use Google to search for information, naturally, everyone wants their website to be adapted to Google algorithms. SEO is one of the most reliable instruments to bring your website to the first five results in Google search.

Of course, Google doesn’t disclose the exact algorithms of Google. However, there are main points that influence Google ranking:

  1. What other websites link to your website.
  2. How fast the pages load.
  3. How easy-to-read the content on the page is for Google crawlers.

So, most developers agree that it’s impossible to deny the importance of SEO. It’s critical for any online business.

How Google Crawlers Work

  1. Google uses bots to crawl the pages of websites and detect new ones. The developer chooses which pages need to be crawled and which ones to hide from Google bots.
  1. Next, these bots analyze content on the website to index it. That is why it’s important to structure content on a website in an understandable manner and use relevant keywords.
  1. The final step is ranking the position of a website in the Google results.

What is React?

React (React.js formally) is an open-source JavaScript library, used to create user interface (UI) for websites. It’s owned by Facebook, being very popular since it helps build interactive, fast-to-load websites and apps.

React is very popular among front-end developers. According to BuiltWith, React is used to create user interfaces by more than 9 million people.

React is the most wanted framework, but its SEO-friendliness is questionable.

React and SEO: What’s The Problem?

React is used to build static, dynamic, and single-page apps. These three types of apps aren’t level in terms of SEO-friendliness. So, how do they differ?

  • Static web apps — SEO-friendly

Such apps contain information that doesn’t often change (that is why they are called static).  For example, landing pages, corporate websites, and blogs. Static web apps are transferred to the user’s browser without any server-side changes. The information is kept in the form of HTML files.

This type of web app is totally compliant with SEO since it quickly gives all the essential content an HTML file so that Google can index and rank pages easily.

  • Dynamic web apps — SEO-friendly

Such websites contain content that constantly changes. They generate data/pages in real-time. For example, user-specific data, like a shopping cart in online shops or when you click “follow” on Twitter.

Per request, a respective response triggers from the server end and then reaches the client end. That is why Google has no problems with understanding and ranking dynamic pages.

  • Single-page apps (SPAs) — not SEO-friendly

SPAs load only a single web document and then update the content of that page via JavaScript APIs. Therefore, such apps have all content on a single page. This content changes without page refresh. Think of social media feed, mail inbox, etc. One of their main advantages is great load speeds. On the other hand, client-side rendering interferes with search engine optimization.

Unlike static and dynamic websites that generate files with HTML content that is easily understandable for Google, SPAs are dependent on JavaScript files that are not very good for SEO. The thing is that an HTML file has only several lines of code when it is sent back to the client-side. This code is not enough for Google to understand the content of the website and index the page. That is why Google has to wait until the JavaScript content downloads, which takes a relatively long time. For this reason, Google crawlers may simply leave the page without waiting for the content to load, considering it as a blank one. Nevertheless, this problem can be solved.

Combining JavaScript and SEO

Single-page apps require JavaScript to show content that makes it poorly visible for Google crawl bot that is more HTML-friendly. Years ago, Google couldn’t see the JavaScript-rendered content at all. However, in 2015, Google has officially announced that its crawlers can now render and index Javascript pages.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that combining Javascript and SEO isn’t an issue anymore. In practice, the vast majority of SEO professionals agree that it appears to be difficult for Google to render and index JavaScript pages. Therefore, it doesn’t do it as effectively as it does with websites that don’t use JavaScript.

Here is a list of the most common problems that make it difficult to combine JavaScript and SEO:

  1. The process of rendering JavaScript pages is slow and difficult.
  1. In most cases, errors in JavaScript code make indexing impossible (Google bot will simply perceive the page as an empty one). Whereas in the case of HTML, mistakes aren’t so intolerant.
  1. It takes around 5 seconds for Google bot to crawl one script. On websites built on JavaScript, one script may require more than 5 seconds to load.

How to Build an SEO Friendly React App? Solving the Problem

React helps build a very user-friendly UI that is also valuable by SEO, so you definitely shouldn’t avoid it while creating a user interface for your app/website. However, you should use some tricks to ensure that your React-site is understandable for Google crawlers and, therefore, good for SEO.

  1. Use SEO friendly JavaScript framework

The secret of making React SEO-friendly is to ensure that Google won’t have to use JavaScript to render the content. You can do this by using server-side rendering (SSR). It means that the files will be sent to the user prior to running the JavaScript code. In simple words, it will make the page load faster because the visitor won’t have to wait for React to run. This is especially helpful for older PCs. More importantly, it eliminates the need for Google to wait for the JavaScript to run to read the content of the page.

Nonetheless, it may be tricky for newbies to set up SSR in React, but don’t worry: it’s possible to find a JS framework that is easy-to-set-up.

Gatsby.js

Gatsby.js is a great framework for pages that don’t change in real-time. It works great with static pages (great examples are corporate pages and blogs) and can help your website rank and perform better, making it more efficient for Google bot and other search engines. The best advantage you’re getting when working with Gatsby.js is speed boost. However, it won’t do best for websites and pages with lots of user-generated content.

Next.js

Next.js can generate static pages just as Gatsby.js, but it uses another approach. While Gatsby.js sends the pre-generated pages to a server storage service, Next.js pre-renders the page before it sends files to the user. Thanks to that, the content constantly updates in real-time which makes it an excellent choice for pages with lots of user-generated content.

  1. Create static or dynamic web apps

As it was already mentioned, static and dynamic apps make it easier for Google bot to access the pages as they use server-side rendering. Luckily, single-app pages aren’t essential for most online businesses, and you don’t always have to use them. Most marketplaces are dynamic websites, and landing pages of the websites are static. Single-page web apps are suitable for building dynamic platforms with small data volumes like, for example, Google-like services.

  1. Use pre-renders

Pre-readers are paid tools that turn JS code into static HTML files, making your SPA visible for Google bot. They are easy to implement as they don’t require changes in code at all, or only minimal ones. However, they are not the best choice for websites that contain often changing data, or for pages that contain personal data of users.

Why is React SEO Friendly and Why You Should Use It for Your SEO projects?

Each project requires different technologies depending on what goals you want to achieve. Nowadays, React SEO optimization is a widely used practice. And, as you can see, there are not many reasons to worry about the SEO-friendliness of React. Nowadays, using SEO for React app is not such a big problem as it was years ago.

When using JavaScript for your website, remember that Google crawls the HTML websites faster and more effectively, but that doesn’t mean that it ignores JS websites at all. You just should put more effort to make them optimized for SEO. The React-rendered content can be indexed, even with lengthy delays.

React is frequently used for building SEO-friendly websites, but it must be set upright.

Of course, you will face a lot of challenges when trying to build an SEO-friendly React app. That is why it’s important to have well-skilled React developers in your team to ensure correct optimization.





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