React SEO Strategies and Best Practices 

React SEO Strategies and Best Practices 

One of the biggest trends in web application development is the increase of single-page applications, or SPAs, compared to those made with React. React is a framework used by social media giants like Twitter and Facebook. Google also uses it, which ensures that websites and web applications that are fast, responsive, and animation-rich can be built with a smooth user experience. 

However, it is essential to note that products created with React, Angular, or Vue do not have a lot of capabilities in terms of search engine optimization. It becomes even more problematic when a website mainly acquires customers through its website content and search engine marketing. 

Fortunately, there are a few ready-made solutions for React that can help you become visible in search engines to guarantee the success of your project, or else you can even take the help of a ReactJS development company to help you with the problem. In this article, we will discuss a few of them. 

Common Indexing problems with JavaScript pages 

1. Slow and complex indexing process 

When you are indexing a standard and straightforward HTML web page, it is easy for Google crawlers to do so. All Google bots have to do is download all the HTML, parse the HTML for links, then process several pages at a time, download the resources, and finally index the page. Rinse, repeat. On the other hand, when dealing with a JavaScript page, Google Bots are required to parse, compile, and execute code. In some cases, external APIs and databases are used to fetch data. In addition to this, the indexing of JavaScript pages is done in a linear, synchronous fashion, making the process relatively slow. 

Because of this, the crawling budget is exhausted, data fetching errors result in only a fraction (if any) of a page being indexed; the bots that are there have either no JavaScript functionality or have limited JavaScript functionality, not to mention all the complexities that come with parsing JavaScript code. 

It is said that complexity is the devil’s advocate. This also holds true for indexing. 

2.  Errors in JavaScript code 

Depending on the bot, it might be limited to what APIs and JavaScript feature it is able to support. In the case of cutting-edge features that don’t utilize polyfills, It is possible that crawlers have an issue with that. This will prevent bots from parsing pages they cannot comprehend and will prevent them from indexing them. 

3. The limits of Google’s crawling budget 

A lot of the time, search engine bots have a limit on how many pages they can look at once. If JavaScript is too slow, this causes the bot’s crawling budget to be drained, resulting in your site being unindexed before the bot has finished indexing it. 

4. Challenges of indexing SPAs 

Single-page applications (SPAs) are web applications created using React. SPAs are web applications that consist of just one page at a time, so they only need to be loaded once. Whenever needed, other information is loaded dynamically. The linear nature of SPAs makes them faster, more responsive, and provides a smoother user experience than traditional multi-page apps.  

The downside to all this is that there are some limitations associated with SEO when it comes to SPAs. Web apps like these can display content even before the page has been fully loaded. When a bot crawls the page without having the content loaded, then what it will see is an empty page. A significant portion of the site will be omitted from indexation. You will therefore receive a much lower ranking in search engine results. 

Why is React Different? 

The good of React

1. Virtual DOM 

Using React, you can make use of the virtual document object model (aka virtual DOM) to reduce page-loading times and minimize calls to the real document object model. By doing that, it can increase the speed dramatically since each time a change is made to the UI, it generates a new set of UI instructions and compares the newly generated DOM tree with the previous one. In order to properly apply those changes to the actual DOM, it then uses the diff generated to create the minimal number of updates that are needed. 

The reason React is so fast is because of that. This is because it only modifies the real DOM as needed, in contrast to jQuery, which applies any CSS or styling changes to the actual DOM, even if they weren’t necessary. 

2. Components over Templates 

The fact that React is a component-based framework means that learning any templates or rendering functions is not necessary. To replace this, you can instead define your user interface components with JavaScript and JSX (JavaScript XML) since you can reuse code just by looking at the markup of each component. 

3. One-Way Data Flow 

Parent components exchange data with their children via props in React. It’s different from how Angular handles things, which is why React apps are so fast. 

In contrast to two-way binding, which involves making changes to the child component to change the parent component’s state, props let you make loosely coupled components that make sure the parent handles fetching data, processing it, etc. You will then be able to have a more predictable and easier-to-maintain user interface. 

The bad of React 

1. One URL to rule 

One of the main issues with SPA for SEO is that it only possesses a single URL without any editing or modification. If there truly was only one HTML file, then there could be only one URL. This is an essential aspect of the React for SEO solution. 

All meta data is enclosed within the header tags. It is prohibited to change the meta tags of the React components since they are rendered in the body section. 

2. No Provision For Meta tags 

In order for your application to appear at the top of Google’s listing, each page must have a genuine title and description. 

All the pages will show up in the search engine results if you don’t. Even changing the tags to React will not help, and you will not be able to use React. 

Challenges with SEO of React Websites 

Use of Single Page Application (SPA) 

In order for websites to work properly since the beginning of the World Wide Web, it has been necessary for the browser to request each page in its entirety from the server. Simply said, the server generates HTML and returns it with each request to keep things simple. 

It doesn’t matter if the next page you load from that website has the same elements like menu, sidebar, and footer; still the browser will ask you to load the entirety of the page and will re-render everything from the 0. This results in redundant information flow and more tremendous strain on the server, which must render each page entirely rather than giving only the necessary information. 

Technologies are advancing at a very rapid speed, and therefore the page loading time must also be increased. And to find the solution to this problem, the developers found something unique. They came up with a JavaScript based Single Page Application SPA. 

It works in a straightforward way: it does not load the whole content that there is on the website, but it refreshes the content that is not available on the page you loaded first. 

The website’s performance is greatly improved as a result of this program’s ability to reduce the amount of data transmitted. ReactJS is an outstanding example of a technology that can be used to construct single-page applications (SPAs) since it optimizes the way material is shown in the user’s browser. 

SEO issues with Single Page Applications 

Single Page Applications have had a positive impact on the overall performance of the website, but there are still a number of concerns that need to be addressed when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). to name a few examples: 

1. Lack of dynamic SEO tags 

SPAs are web applications that dynamically load data into specific web page segments. Therefore whenever a crawler visits your site and tries to click on a particular link, it will not be able to read the whole cycle of the page load. And the search engine wants to be able to see the metadata that has been placed for them because it won’t be refreshed. And because of this particular reason, the single page app that you have developed is unseen by the search engine crawler, and while indexing, it will be indexed as an empty/null page, and if the page is not indexed, then it won’t become up in the search area of Google. That is not good for SEO purposes. 

This problem is the most basic one that occurs in single-page web applications, and to resolve it, programmers create a separate page; more often than not, the page that is created is HTML for the search bots, along with working with the webmaster to explain how the search engine should index the corresponding content. 

As a result of this, however, there will be an increase in business expenses because new web pages will need to be created, and websites will have more difficulty ranking higher in search engines because of it. 

2. Search Engines Crawling JavaScript Is Precarious 

If you know and already have a single-page application or have a basic knowledge of React, you might be aware that all the SPAs depend on JavaScript to load the website’s content dynamically. A Google crawler or any other search engine crawler might likely ignore JavaScript, which has been executed. 

Web bots take advantage of the instant availability of web content, allowing them to retrieve web content that is readily available without requiring JavaScript to be active and finally indexing the page according to its type. There was a statement that was shared by Google in 2015, that said they would crawl CSS and also JS on websites, but the catch here is that the search engine bots should allow access to them. 

Despite the fact that the statement seems optimistic, it is also risky. Although Google crawlers are smart enough and can execute Javascript, one cannot entirely rely on just one search engine. Because the world doesn’t revolve around just one search engine, there are multiple search crawlers such as Bing, Yahoo, and Baidu, and they read the site with Javascript like an empty page.  

To resolve this problem, you need to render the content on the server side so the bot can read it. React SEO is therefore challenging. 

How to Make Your React Website SEO-Friendly 

SEO optimization of SPAs poses many challenges, as you saw above. While it is not impossible to make a SEO-friendly React app, there are some React Seo strategies and best practices you should implement on your web application. Some of these ways are: 

Pre-rendering: Making SPA & Other Websites SEO-Friendly 

Prerendering is one of the usual tricks for improving the SEO of single-page and multi-page web apps. In order to do this, you can use different prerendering services, such as prerender.io, which is one of the most prominent ones right now. 

This is mainly used when search bots that visit your website are not able to render all of the pages correctly. If this happens, you can use prerenders, which are specially designed programs that can monitor the requests made to the website. And in the figure down below, two types of cases have been demonstrated. 

To begin with, if a bot requests the website, the pre-renderers send a cached version of the static HTML version of the website. The second thing we do if it is from a user is to load the standard page. 

Pre-rendering consumes fewer memory and processing resources on the server than server-side rendering does. However, you should be aware that the majority of pre-rendering services are not free and do not perform well with dynamically changing content. 

Server-side rendering: Fetching HTML Files With Entire Content 

It is imperative that you understand the distinction between server-side rendering and client-side rendering if you wish to create a React web app. 

When a browser or a Google bot receives empty HTML files or HTML files with inadequate content, this is referred to as “client-side rendering.” Now, the JavaScript code is in charge of retrieving the content from the servers and showing it to the users on their computers’ screens. 

The main problem occurs in client-side rendering in terms of SEO, because when client-side rendering is occurring, the Google crawlers cannot find any data or sometimes even get even less content on the page. Because of that, it is not indexed correctly. 

On the other hand, when it comes to server-side rendering, the google bots and the browser that you are surfing on are able to get the HTML files and the entirety of the content. And because of this, Google bots will be able to index the page without any difficulty, and it will rank higher. 

The second one is the easy one when it comes to creating an SEO-friendly React website. But if you desire to make a Single Page Application that is able to render on the server, then what you have to do is create another layer of NextJS. 

Isomorphic React: Detecting The Availability Of JavaScript 

With the help of Isomorphic JavaScript technology, you can easily detect if the JavaScript on your server-side is enabled or not. It happens that sometimes JavaScript is not enabled, so what Isomorphic JavaScript does is work on the server-side and deliver the final content to the client-side of the server. 

And because of this, when the page starts to load, you will have all the required content as well as the attributes. And this is very important to keep in mind for React’s SEO. 

You will have a way faster load time in comparison to the traditional websites, and the users will benefit from a smoother experience even in the SPAs too. 

Tools to Improve SEO of React Websites 

React Router v4 

A React Router is a component that enables you to build routes between different pages or components in your application. This tool aids in the building of websites that have a URL structure that is optimized for search engines. 

There are many navigational components in it, and it is mainly used to assist you in defining your application. React Router is a tool that developers can use whenever they encounter a problem with React rendering. 

React Helmet 

With the help of this, you can easily add and update the metadata on the server you are working on and the clients’ side; if I tell you in short, React Helmet is a React head manager.  And because of this, the React Web Apps become SEO as well as social media-friendly.  And with the help of the React helmet, you are able to change the title, meta-data, and language. 

With the document object, you can edit the *html> and *head> elements of your page.  Nevertheless, it is not the optimal solution since it requires adding the code for this function through the React component’s lifecycle. 

With the React Helmet, you have a more straightforward solution than the current approach.  A React developer can develop SEO-friendly react applications by combining server-side rendering with React Helmet. 

Fetch As Google: Helping Users To Understand Crawling Process 

While Google bots are capable of crawling React apps, it is vital to remain cautious and thoroughly analyze the website for the presence or absence of web crawlers before deploying a React application. However, there is now a fantastic tool available that will take care of everything. 

Fetch as Google is a Google service that allows visitors to see how a URL on a website is rendered or crawled by Google. It is available for free. 

The primary function of Fetch, like Google, is to stimulate a render execution that is comparable to that of Google’s typical crawling and rendering procedures. 

To take advantage of this feature, you must have a React web application, and in order to access the tools, you must go to Google Search Console and log in using your Google Account. 

Immediately after you’ve added the property to Google Search Console, you’ll be required to verify the URL you entered. If you’re dealing with React SEO, this is quite handy. 

The bottom line 

React applications that have only one page are extremely fast and offer users seamless interactions between those applications and those of native applications, as well as a lighter server load and ease of web development. 

It would be best if you didn’t let the fact that React isn’t suitable for search engine optimization prevent you from using it. Instead, you may be able to overcome this issue using the solutions mentioned earlier. Further, the search engine crawlers are getting smarter with each passing year, so in the future, using React will not be a pitfall in terms of SEO optimization.  

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Archit Prajapati is a Content Writer & Digital Marketing Expert at WPWeb Infotech. He has deep knowledge and interest to work with new marketing strategies. In his free time, he loves to watch Cricket, read spiritual and marketing books, and play music.