Published: 5 February 2020
How Things Are Supposed to Work with Javascript & SEO

Lots of web developers, myself included, have been rolling out the perks of using a JavaScript SEO. Although there are enough sorts of debates and discussions going around on the buzzing relationship between these two disciplines. But when things go beyond these web development discussions and into the mainstream; do you think that we should care about what we are hearing?

Agree or not, the one question that has been plaguing me for a long time is – Can combining SEO and JavaScript create wonders irrespective of search engine crawlers perceiving a website’s content and evaluating the user experience?

Back to the Basics

Before we delve into the details for optimizing your website to get indexed appropriately, let’s brush our hands on some basic terminology.

  • JavaScript- Mainly used in web development to create dynamic and active pages, the programming language can be also placed into a JavaScript document to create a link.
  • HTML- Hypertext Markup Language acts as a content organizer that provides a website structure including bullet lists, headlines, paragraphs and so forth.
  • SEO- The term Search Engine Optimization includes everything from a well-structured website to choosing relevant keywords, right tagging, technical standards and of course, amazing content.

There are tons of overlapping here, of course, but these fundamentals can directly impact your site’s crawl ability and search ability.

Now, do you think that combining JavaScript and SEO is an emerging concept? No! It was a real hit back in the days to develop websites using JavaScript to feature content. However, in the present scenario, Google seems to have made certain changes in regards to methodology especially when people doubted the search engine’s reliability on crawling JavaScript.

Can your JavaScript website be ranked by Google? 

Wait, hang on! Let’s start somewhere else (which will eventually lead us to the answer). Other than being one of the finest programming languages, JavaScript has the potential to save you from lots and lots of trouble in regards to both server-side and client-side rendering. Moreover, here you can solve the problem even before it arises.

Understanding the SEO: Crawling. Indexing. Ranking

Crawling, a process where Google discovers your site. The crawlers start by picking up web pages and then follow the page links, You can help Google and tell the crawler which pages to crawl and which not to crawl. A “robots.txt” file says

Customer-side analytics may not provide a complete or accurate description on your platform of Googlebot and WRS operation. Use the Search Console to track activity and reviews on your website from Googlebot and WRS” – Google Developers

The crawler sends what it finds to the indexer and also prioritizes the URLs based on their high value. Once this stage is over and no errors have occurred in the Search Console, the ranking process should begin. Also, this is when SEO specialists need to take a plunge by offering quality content, upgrading the site to acquire more valuable links.

The Role of Googlebot in the JavaScript Rendering Process

googlebot-crawl-render-index

When Googlebot fetches a URL from the crawling queue by making an HTTP request it first checks if you allow crawling. Googlebot reads the robots.txt file. In case, if you have marked the URL as disallowed, then Googlebot will automatically skip the URL by making an HTTP request. On the off chance that you have classical websites or server-side rendered pages, crawling HTML will certainly work at its best. Technically speaking, Googlebot executes JavaScript directly before having to see the actual page content generated.

Through JavaScript, Googlebot can follow the links. It includes JavaScript connections coded with:

  • functions outside the href Attribute-Value Pair (AVP) but within the tag
  • (“onClick”) functions within the href AVP (“javascript: window.location”)
  • functions outside the “a” but named inside the href AVP.

The exciting thing about this is that Google can make JS pretty decent. Googlebot has a fixed time to wait for JS framing, which you wouldn’t take for granted.

Make Your JavaScript SEO-Friendly

I do recall the time in 2009 where the tech giant itself recommended AJAX crawling but as of now, they no longer support the proposal. Earlier, search engines were not able to access content from AJAX-based websites due to simple reasons like system unable to render and understand the page using JavaScript to generate exceptional content.

  • Server-side rendering– As the name implies, here the code the one which is rendered server-side has to face Google to crawl and index. The biggest advantage here is it can render the client-side content without requiring the second pass.
  • Hybrid rendering- This phase is all about balancing client and server-side rendering to enhance in regards to user experience. For critical page sections, use server-side rendering, such as initial page layout and primary content, for non-critical page components, use client-side rendering.
  • Dynamic rendering- According to the recent change in Google policy, the page server-side for Googlebot as well as end-users can be rendered. Many web developers in the tech fraternity call it cloaking. However, the search engine seems to have revised its guidelines to allow it in this situation. If you have a large site that keeps on changing now and then, dynamic rendering turns out to be the only choice. where content could be stale by the time Google takes its second pass to frame it.

Conclusion

This is not all as both the topics JavaScript and SEO comprise of many nuances most of which no one talks about including lots of gaps and misunderstandings. By now I am sure web developers know how to leverage JavaScript in a friendly relationship with SEO. We recognize that the content of a JavaScript website is indexed and listed. But it’s done almost quietly, the fact is  So try everything hacks possible to stay relevant in Google’s good books.

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