How to make a single page application SEO-friendly?- April 13, 2019 - Views: 706
The web development industry changes every day. A happening trend can become old news in seconds. Just look at the fate of Flash – there was time when it ruled the internet, today it has become a joke.
Out here, the saying “change is the only constant” fits impeccably. New trends hit the market every now and then. While some end up in a trash pile of obsolete web trends, others make their place and replace old technologies.
Similarly, single page applications are unwittingly replacing multi page applications. Ever since they have been introduced, they have created a buzz in the online world. They are highly functional and make for a very user-friendly option. When first launched, almost every business was into it and implemented it one way or another.
SPAs or single page applications look visually appealing and provide a seamless user experience. Moreover, they provide faster loading time, more mobile-friendly responsiveness and require no page loads.
Online businesses who used SPAs have experienced lower bounce rates and increased average session time. However, you might have noticed that the use of single page applications is limited. Apart from few big brands like Facebook, Twitter and more, many businesses avoid using SPAs.
And if you are familiar with single page applications, you would know why.
They may provide better user experience but they make it quite hard for marketers to rank them higher on search engines.
Why SPAs are difficult to rank?
Until recently, major search engines like Google found it difficult to index single page applications.
Popular search engines like Bing, and Google have crawlers that use a process called crawling or spidering to index web pages where they download the HTML file of the web page.
So can Google render Ajax now?
According to Google, it is now able to crawl Ajax. But as per few reports, it still fails to fully render Ajax. This means there is no 100% guarantee that it will crawl and index your single page applications.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use SPAs.
Google is updating its algorithms every day. And sooner or later, it will be able to crawl, index and rank web applications implementing single page trend.
Until then, there are certain things you can do at your end to ensure your web applications are indexed and ranked higher (which we will discuss later in this post.)
Another reason why SPAs are difficult to rank is because search engines rank web pages not websites.
And since SPAs are single page websites, you cannot separate your pages and rank them as an individual web page.
Here’s what you should do to make your SPA SEO-friendly:
SEO Friendly URLS
URLs play an intrinsic role in optimizing your website for SEO.
John Hartley, Associate team director of DYNAMIT suggests using an ID URL and a slug URL.
ID URL*: http://localhost:8082/recipes/3fdc86d5-76fe-48c2-9ed9-24dba3c7c78bExample of ID URL
Slug URL*: http://localhost:8082/digital-marketing/social-media-marketingExample of Slug URL
These are the examples of ID URL and a slug URL. An ID URL includes the unique IDs related to each part of content present on the web page. The aim of creating such a URL is to allow your router to get relevant content and use it in your component.
A slug URL, on the other hand, includes title of the web page separated by hyphens.
A slug URL helps your audience recognize your web page and know what would be there on it. Since it contains actual words, you can target your keywords in a slug URL.
In simpler words, an ID URL is for search engine crawlers and a slug URL is for your end-user.
Server-side rendering works by converting your web pages into relevant information for the browser. However, to use server-side rendering on a single page application, it has to be implemented against a virtual DOM (Document Object Model).
A virtual document object model used to create SPA is then translated into an HTML string. This HTML string is rendered into the page and then into the browser.
If, for any reason, you are unable to implement server-side rendering, you can use pre-rendering.
You need to run your single page application on a headless browser (a web browser that does not have a graphical user interface) such as Firefox, Chrome or PhantomJS.
Take a screenshot of your web application output, and change the HTML files with this screenshot in response to the server request.
The only difference between server-side rendering and pre-rendering is that pre-rendering occurs during pre-deployment stage while SSR takes place on a live server.
With pre-rendering, you don’t need a Node.js production server nor does it add any additional load on the server.
Make use of “Fetch as Google”
Google search console has a great feature called “Fetch as Google”. It enables you to manually enter a URL from your web application and fetch it as a crawler would while crawling. Once you hit “fetch”, you will get an HTTP response from the URL. This response contains a page source code as Googlebot sees it and lets you download it. “Fetch and render” will provide a snapshot of the web application as Google crawler sees it and your audience will see.
This helps you review your application and see what can be done to optimize it for SEO. Moreover, after fetch and render, you can hit “request indexing” that will help you manually index your SPA.
Meta tags are yet another way of optimizing your site for SEO. These tags include HREFLANG, canonical tags, meta description, and page title. Meta tags must be included in the webpage’s source code.
This is definitely not something new. Every marketer knows how crucial it is to add XML sitemaps to your websites.
And single page applications are no different. Even though it is a single page application, you still need to add XML sitemap.
You can submit a well-formatted XML Sitemap to the Google Search Console and let Google bots have access to your complete SPA.
While the aforementioned tricks will help, you tend to miss out on some SEO juice when using SPAs.
But as Facebook, and Twitter are manifesting, customer experience is everything today. And sometimes, it’s worth putting your customers above search engines.
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