Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process of structuring and organizing your website to bring a better quality and quantity of traffic to your website by ranking higher in the search engine results, focusing on the specific keywords related to your business. The main aim of performing the SEO process is to gain more visibility on the internet and drive more traffic to your website.
Search engines today rely on crawling the content that is put on your websites. Since this process is automated, it is extremely important that the content is structured and formatted in a manner that is understandable by machines. The SEO process involves optimizing the website performance and also curating the content to provide hints to the search engine crawlers to easily understand your website.
This may sound fairly straightforward, but for websites built on React, this may not always be the case. Let’s have a look at the reasons why.
Challenges with SEO for React Websites
a. The use of React-based Single Page Applications
Since the start of the World Wide Web, websites worked in such a way that the browser needed to request each page completely. To simplify the server generates HTML and sends it back on every request. Even if the next page has a lot of the same elements (menu, sidebar, footer, …), the browser will still ask for the entire new page and re-render everything from the ground up. This causes a redundant information flow and additional stress on the server that needs to fully render each page instead of supplying only the required information.
With the advancement in technologies, the requirement for faster loading times increased. To resolve the issue with the full page loading time, developer communities came up with JS-based Single Page Applications or SPA. These websites do not reload the whole content on the website, instead, they refresh only the content that differs from the current page. Such an application improves the performance of the website drastically as the amount of data being transacted is reduced. One good example of technology that can be used to create SPAs is ReactJS, which is as well optimizing the way the content is rendered on the user’s browser (more about this here).
b. Main SEO issues with SPA
Although SPAs improves the website performance to a considerable extent, there are certain inherent issues in this type of setup when it comes to SEO.
Lack of dynamic SEO tags
An SPA loads the data dynamically in selected segments of the web page. Hence, when a crawler tries to click a particular link, it is not able to detect the complete page load cycle. The metadata of the page which is in place for the Search engine does not get refreshed. As a result, your single page app cannot be seen by the search engine crawler and will be indexed as an empty page, which is not good for SEO purposes.
Programmers can solve this problem by creating separate pages (more often HTML pages) for the search bots, and at the same time work with the Webmaster to discuss how to get the corresponding content indexed. However, this will increase the business expenses owing to the cost of developing additional pages and also make it difficult to rank websites higher on the search engines.
Solutions for SEO of React-based SPA websites
There are 2 major ways to resolve the SEO issues being faced in the React-based SPA websites.
1. Isomorphic React
a. How does Isomorphic React help in SEO?