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An In-Depth Guide to JavaScript SEO

Alekh Verma | February 27, 2023
Javascript SEO

One of the most prominent technical SEO challenges we’re facing nowadays is to get Google to index JavaScript content. JavaScript is rapidly gaining popularity and more websites are being built using this technology. However, websites built using JavaScript face difficulty in attaining organic growth.

You will unavoidably encounter distinct difficulties when working on websites built with JavaScript frameworks (such as React, Angular, or Vue.js) than when working on websites built with WordPress, Shopify, or other well-liked CMS platforms. To succeed in search engines, you must, however, understand precisely how to check that your site's pages can be rendered and indexed, detect problems, and optimize them for search engines.

We're going to discuss everything there is to know about JavaScript SEO in this guide.

Understanding JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages that can be used to develop webpages. It works in conjunction with HTML and CSS to provide a level of interactivity that would not be otherwise possible. This refers to animated visuals and sliders, maps, interactive forms, online games, and other interactive elements for the majority of websites.

Now JavaScript frameworks like ReactJs or AngularJs can be used to power mobile and web apps. They are increasingly being used to build complete websites. Additionally, these frameworks are becoming more and more well-liked among developers due to their ability to create both single-page and multi-page web applications. However, using JavaScript comes with its own set of SEO difficulties.

What is JavaScript SEO?

One of the most important aspects of JavaScript SEO is to make it simple for search engines to crawl and index. By enabling search engines to index your web pages, SEO for JavaScript sites provides its own special problems and procedures that must be followed to maximize your chances of ranking. Having stated that, it's simple to make blunders when working with JavaScript websites. For things to be done correctly, there will be a lot more back and forth with coders.

However, JavaScript is growing in popularity, so it's crucial for SEOs to learn how to properly optimize these sites.

Understanding How Google ‘Crawl and Index’ JavaScript

Before we begin let’s clarify one thing that Google now renders JavaScript more quickly than it did a few years ago. However, before we delve into the specifics of how to make sure that the JavaScript on your website is SEO friendly and can be crawled and indexed, you need to be aware of how Google interprets it. This occurs throughout the course of three phases. Let's take a closer look at this procedure and contrast it with how Googlebot crawls an HTML website.

  • Crawling
  • Rendering
  • Indexing

Google indexer is a quick and easy process that begins with the downloading of an HTML file, the extraction of links, and the downloading of CSS files before sending these resources to Caffeine.

The process begins with the download of the HTML file, just like with an HTML page. After that, JavaScript creates the links, but they cannot be removed in the same way. Therefore, Googlebot must employ the Web Rendering Service that is a part of Caffeine to index this material after downloading the page's CSS and JS files. The WRS may then extract links from the content and index it.

In addition, Google cannot index material until the JavaScript has been produced, making this a labor-intensive procedure that required more time and resources than an HTML page.

Crawling an HTML website quickly and effectively involves downloading the HTML, extracting the links from the page, and then crawling those links. However, this cannot occur while using JavaScript because it must be rendered first before links can be extracted.

Let's look at some techniques for optimizing the JavaScript content on your website.

How Can You Make Your Website’s JavaScript Content SEO-Friendly

JavaScript on your website needs to be able to be crawled and rendered for Google to be able to index it. However, obstacles that prevent this from happening are frequently encountered. There are, however, a number of actions you can take to ensure that your website's JavaScript is SEO friendly and that your content gets rendered and indexed.

In essence, there are just three options:

  • Ensuring that Google can crawl the content on your page
  • Ensuring Google can render the material on your website
  • Ensuring that Google can index the information on your website

There are actions you can take to ensure that these things can occur as well as techniques to make JavaScript content more search engine friendly.

1.  Utilize Google Search Console to Check That Google Can Render Your Websites

Even though Googlebot is built on the most recent version of Chrome, it doesn't function like a browser. This means that allowing access to your website in this way does not ensure that its content can be displayed. To make sure Google can render your webpages, utilize the URL Inspection Tool in Google Search Console.

Look for the "TEST LIVE URL" button in the top right corner of your screen and enter the URL of the page you wish to test.

After a few seconds, a "live test" tab will emerge, and when you click "see tested page," a screenshot of the website that depicts how Google renders it will appear. In the HTML tab, you can also see the rendered code.

Look for any inconsistencies or missing information because they could indicate that resources (including JavaScript) are being blocked, errors, or timeouts happened. To view any errors, select the "additional info" button. These can help you figure out what went wrong.

  • The Most Popular Cause of Google's Inability to Render JavaScript Pages

The most frequent cause of Google's inability to render JavaScript sites is the unintentional blocking of certain resources in your site's robots.txt file. To make sure that none of the important resources are prevented from being crawled, add the following code to this file:

User-Agent: Googlebot

Allow: .js

Allow: .css

Let's clarify that Google does not index.js or.css files in the search results, though. A website is rendered using these resources. Blocking essential resources is unnecessary because doing so will stop your content from being rendered and, consequently, from being indexed.

2.  Make Sure Google Indexes Your JavaScript Content

Once you're certain that your website is rendering correctly, you should check to see if it's being indexed. Additionally, you can examine this directly on the search engine as well as through Google Search Console.

To check if your website is in the index, go to Google and use the site: command. In the following URL, for instance, swap out yourdomain.com for the URL of the page you want to test:

site: yourdomain.com/page-URL/

If the page is included in Google's index, it will appear as a returned result. The absence of the URL indicates that the page is not indexed. Let's presume it is, though, and see if any JavaScript-generated material is included in the index.

Use the site: command once more and add a content snippet to this. Using the URL Inspection Tool once more, you may check Google Search Console to see if JavaScript content is indexed. This time, inspect the HTML source code of the indexed page by selecting "view crawled page" rather than trying the live URL.

Look for content snippets that you are certain were produced by JavaScript in the HTML code.

  • Typical Causes for Google Not Indexing JavaScript Content

Google may not be able to index your JavaScript content for a variety of reasons, including:

First of all, the content cannot be rendered. Due to links to it being produced by JavaScript when a click is made, the URL cannot be found. Google judged that the JS resources do not sufficiently alter the page to warrant downloading it because the page times out while it is indexing the material.

Let’s Discuss: Server-Side Rendering vs Client-Side Rendering vs Dynamic Rendering

The way your website renders the code will have a significant impact on whether or not you have problems getting Google to index your JavaScript content. Additionally, you must comprehend the variations among dynamic rendering, client-side rendering, and server-side rendering.

To overcome the difficulties of working with JavaScript, SEOs must learn to collaborate with developers. While Google continues to enhance how it crawls, displays, and indexes content produced by JavaScript, you can stop many of the difficulties from ever occurring in the first place.

In fact, knowing the various JavaScript rendering techniques may be the most crucial skill you need for JavaScript SEO.

What exactly are these several rendering kinds, and what do they mean?

  • Server-Side Rendering

When JavaScript is rendered on the server and a rendered HTML page is served to the client (the browser, Googlebot, etc.), this process is known as server-side rendering (SSR). There shouldn't be any JavaScript-specific problems because the crawling and indexing procedure is exactly the same for this page as it is for any other HTML page, as we previously mentioned.

  • Client-Side Rendering

The rendering of JavaScript by the client (in this case, the browser or Googlebot) using the DOM is known as client-side rendering (CSR), which is essentially the polar opposite of server-side rendering (SSR). The issues listed above may arise when Googlebot tries to crawl, render, and index material when the client must render the JavaScript.

  • Dynamic Rendering

For presenting a website to users that have JavaScript content created in the browser but a static version of Googlebot, dynamic rendering is an alternative to server-side rendering. Consider this as sending search engines server-side rendered content and users' client-side rendered content via their browsers. This is possible with the use of tools like prerender.io, which bills itself as "rocket science for JavaScript SEO," and is encouraged and endorsed by Bing. Rendertron and Puppeteer are other options.

To answer a common query among SEOs, dynamic rendering is not cloaking as long as the information being supplied is the same. This wouldn't be cloaking unless a completely separate piece of content was delivered. The content that users and search engines see will be the same with dynamic rendering, possibly with a different level of interactivity.

Some Common Issues with JavaScript SEO and How to Avoid Them

JavaScript can cause a number of SEO problems, some of which are prevalent and are listed below along with advice on how to fix them.

  • You can stop Googlebot from crawling these resources and, consequently, from rendering and indexing them by blocking .js files in your robots.txt file. To prevent problems brought forth by this, permit the crawling of certain files.
  • In most cases, Google doesn't wait a long time for JavaScript content to render; if it does, you might find that material isn't indexed as a result of a timeout issue.
  • Because search engines don't click buttons, pagination that only generates links to pages after the first (let's say on an eCommerce category) will prevent these following pages from being indexed. Use static links to assist Googlebot to find the pages on your site at all times.
  • Avoid delaying the loading of content that needs to be indexed when lazy loading a page with JavaScript. Typically, this should be applied to visual content rather than text.
  • Customer-side rendered as with server-side rendered content, JavaScript is unable to return server failures. For instance, redirect errors to a page that displays a 404 status code.
  • Make sure that static URLs, not #, are produced for the web pages on your site. To avoid URLs like this (yourdomain.com/#/web-page) or this (yourdomain.com#web-page), make sure your domain names end in /web-page. Employ static URLs. Otherwise, Google will not index these pages because it normally ignores hashes.

Conclusion

There's no doubt that JavaScript can make it difficult for search engines to crawl and index the content of your website. Nevertheless, you may significantly lessen these problems by comprehending why this is the case and knowing how to work with content produced in this manner. It takes some time to thoroughly understand JavaScript, but even as Google becomes more adept at indexing it, there is a clear need to increase your understanding of how to solve any issues that may arise.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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