React SEO: Best Practices To Make It SEO-Friendly

Although many frameworks are used for developing websites, web apps and mobile apps, developers use NodeJS to handle the backend part and AngularJS to tackle the front-end challenges. 

However, these frameworks aren’t ideal for developing single-page applications (SPAs). Recently, SPAs have become a predominant technology owing to their user-friendliness, ease of development, lower loading time, reduced bounce rate and so on. 

As mobile users handle about 58.99 percent of total global website traffic, it has become essential for most companies to opt for an option that can increase their market reach and help gain more audience than they targeted. This is where the SPAs come into play. 

From the name itself, you can understand it is a single-page application instead of having multiple pages. The content does not load at the same time. Instead, the content of the Hypertext Markup Language or HTML script loads according to the user’s movement on the screen. 

Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, YouTube and others are some of the best examples of SPAs. Due to the lightweight code and the more straightforward implementation, these have become quite popular. 

As you scroll down, the additional content reveals itself, not the other way around. SPAs are best developed with ReactJS – a Facebook-based JavaScript framework for rendering components and making hybrid applications. 

Why Is React Used for Developing Single-Page Applications?

While many frameworks are used to develop single-page applications, React comes highly recommended and is rated one of the top frameworks. It is mainly a JavaScript library with several built-in functions with which you can quickly develop SPAs. 

Below we have described some of the main reasons React is considered the best framework for developing SPAs. 

Reusable Codes

One of the top reasons to use React is because of the reusable codes. You need to write the code base only once. Then you can run it across various platforms, from iOS to Android. 

Besides, if you want to introduce any new content in the SPA or change any feature, you can use the same code base for performing the modifications or additions. There is no need to write the code from the base as in another development framework.

Virtual DOM

The codes are executed at the backend when the website or application is used. The HTML script is represented in the form of document object model (DOM), which is further updated in the web browser. 

When you change the DOM, you need to take it down, as it causes the website’s performance to become sluggish.  React’s new codes are updated in a virtual DOM, which is then merged with the original DOM. Therefore, there is no question of a sluggish website or application. 

Use of Components

Instead of interfering with the codes line by line, React uses the component mechanism. The entire user interface (UI) is divided into several components based on the section. 

There are two components, known as the parent and child components. As a result, coding becomes easier, along with debugging and scaling. 

Improved Library

Unlike other JavaScript frameworks for developing websites or single-page applications, React does not come with an overloaded library. Instead, it contains functions that developers often use. 

Therefore, you won’t have to learn everything, including those information sets you don’t need to develop the software. 

Client-Side and Server-Side Rendering

One of the significant benefits of using React for developing single-page applications is that it harbors processes for rendering the codes on both client-side and server-side platforms. 

Therefore, it helps make the SPA suitable for search engine optimization  or SEO ranking, improved performance, enhanced productivity and a fantastic UI. 

What Is SEO, and Why Does It Matter?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique through which you can optimize single-page applications to ensure the search engine can rank them higher. 

When people search for websites or applications concerning any keyword you have included in the SPA, your website needs to rank higher to appear in the first 10 results of the engine. 

It is not easy to get the rank in one go because thousands of websites are active today. Therefore, you have a handful of competition, outshining, which is not easy. This is why you need to optimize the website according to the search engine conditions and protocols. 

Before moving ahead, we shall discuss the benefits of SEO for your single-page applications. 

  1. Once you apply SEO Practices to your SPAs, you can rank high and get more exposure on the internet.
  2. Another benefit of SEO websites is that they can drive more audience and hence help you gain more revenues.
  3. Optimizing the websites will have a higher chance of staying in the competition instead of becoming obsolete.
  4. Your brand reputation will increase, and more people will know about your website.

How Google Bot Conducts Website Ranking

Google is the largest search engine platform used to date, even though several other platforms exist. The search engine operates in three steps- crawling, indexing and ranking. 

To understand how you can make your React SPA SEO-friendly, you need to understand how these search engines work. It will also help if you hire Indian developers according to their skillset concerning React JS. 

Crawling

First, the search engine sets some rules and protocols for web crawlers. Following them, it visits the websites and then discovers the URLs mentioned. It then follows the URL and visits a new page. For Google, the crawler is termed Googlebot

Indexing 

When the Googlebot visits websites, it gathers further information about the JavaScript code, HTML scripts and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) styling elements. It also checks the newness of the content, performance, load time, bounce rate and so on. 

All these datasets are stored in the Google servers where indexing takes place. Caffeine is the indexing program that acts automatically to index websites. It is a process through which Caffeine arranges the website URLs based on the relevant information and the search criteria. 

Ranking

After this, the ranking is done. The search engine results are displayed once the user enters the queries. Then, based on the displayed array of pages, they are ranked. For instance, the first page is ranked as one and so on. 

Why Is It Challenging To Make SPAs SEO-Friendly?

When the crawler first visits the single-page application based on React, it encounters a blank page. The HTML and JavaScript codes are then pushed gradually, and the elements start to appear on the application. 

But the bot won’t wait for the time till the content is pushed. A blank page can’t be indexed due to a lack of information. Therefore, making the React single-page applications rank higher in SEO is complicated. 

Apart from this, there are several other problems you need to address. These are: 

Slow Loading Time

One of the significant reasons why optimizing the React single-page applications for the crawler is difficult is due to the increased load time. The time between the loading of a blank page and the content on the UI is relatively more. The content marketing reports state that less and useful content helps to load a website faster. 

As a result, the crawler leaves the website instead of waiting till the elements are displayed. This way, the SPA won’t be indexed or considered in the SEO results.

Hashing in the URLs

Another major challenge of the React-based single-page application is the use of hashes #. In most cases, a hash is used in the URLs to signify the sections of the single-page HTML script. 

The crawler program won’t consider these hashed URLs because they belong to the same single-page application. Therefore, it won’t index your website, and there won’t be any way to rank the page. 

Similarly, when integrating the history application programming interface (API), the crawler program will be led to pages showing the 404 Not Found error.

No Dynamic SEO Tags

Single-page applications work dynamically. It means that the content is not loaded at the time of the website. Therefore, the moment the crawler program reaches your website’s URL, no metadata will be generated. It won’t wait for the browser to load all the content. 

How Can the SEO for React SPA Challenges Be Mitigated?

Isomorphic React Apps

Usually, the React single-page application is rendered on the client side. That’s why the HTML script is loaded on the web browser. 

However, its possible to build isomorphic React single-page applications that will be rendered both on the client and server sides. 

As a result, the HTML file will be fetched directly instead of waiting for the web browser. When the crawler requests the website, it will send the HTML script directly. Since the browser still renders the code, the Googlebot crawler can fetch both HTML and CSS codes. 

Usually, Next.js and Gatsby are the two most popular frameworks where isomorphic React single-page applications can be developed.  

Prerendering 

Prerendering is one of the best practices to make the React single-page application aligned in terms of the search engine protocols. 

In this process, the HTML and CSS scripts are rendered much earlier and load them directly on the page. However, the SPA elements are stored in the cache memory. 

A check user algorithm then intercepts the request sent to view the website and identifies whether it is the user or the Googlebot. The page will load normally where the browser loads the HTML file if it is the user. 

On the other hand, if it is the bot, the HTML script stored in the cache memory will be rendered, reducing the overall load time and the appearance of a blank page.

Conclusion 

Now that you know the two primary practices to make the React single-page application SEO-specific, consider hiring developers with all the necessary skillsets. Ensure they understand each aspect of React, including the use of Next.js or Gatsby for developing the isomorphic app. Also, they must know about the prerendering process, which further helps make the SPA rank higher. 

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