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The nuts and bolts of SEO for SPAs (Single-Page Applications)

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The nuts and bolts of SEO for SPAs (Single-Page Applications)

HTML has traditionally been used for straightforward content, CSS for styling, and JavaScript for interactive features in websites. Expandable content and pop-up dialogue boxes are made possible by JS on web pages. JavaScript is now used by more than 97% of websites due to its ability to change web content in response to user activities. Single-page applications are a comparatively recent development in integrating JS into web pages.

Describe a SPA

The term single page application or SPA refers to a particular JavaScript-based website development technology that eliminates the need for additional page loads after the initial page view load. Its three most popular JavaScript frameworks for creating SPA are React, Angular, and Vue. They essentially use the same concept to serve quick client-side rendering however they differ most in the supported libraries and APIs. Numerous well-known websites (such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Airbnb) use a single-page application architecture.

Why is SPA optimization complicated?

Before JS took over web development, search engines could only crawl HTML's text-based content. Google began considering adding the capability for parsing JS resources and comprehending pages using them as it gained popularity. Although they have come a long way over the years, there are still many issues with how search crawlers access and view material on single-page applications.

Crawling problems

HTML, which is effectively crawlable via web indexes, doesn't contain much data on a SPA. It incorporates an outer JavaScript record with the assistance of the <script> src property. The program runs the content from this document and the substance is progressively stacked, yet the crawler could neglect to play out the very activity and all things considered, what it sees gives off an impression of being a void following issues.

How to optimize SPAs

For now, let’s see what actions you can take to make your single-page application website fully visible to crawlers. Among the helpful things, you’ll find SEO basics such as a clean, polished sitemap and some specific techniques related to rendering. 

Sitemap

Before tackling SPA-specific crawling and indexing issues, make sure you start with the basics: create a properly formatted sitemap file and submit it to Google. It will not help you with JS resources, but it will inform search engines that your pages exist and what structure your website has.

Server-side rendering

Server-side rendering (SSR) renders a website on the server and then sends it to the browser. This technique allows search bots to crawl all content based on JavaScript. While this is a lifesaver in terms of crawling and indexing, it might slow down the load. The thing with SSR is that SPAs use the opposite approach by nature: it’s the client-side rendering that makes them so fast and interactive for users and also simpler in deployment.

Progressive enhancement with feature detection

Feature detection is among major Google’s recommendations for SPAs. This technique involves progressively enhancing the experience with different code resources. How does it work: a simple HTML page serves as a basis that is accessible to crawlers and users, while features on top of it (CSS and JS resources) and enables and disables according to browser support. 

Views as URLs

When users scroll through a SPA, they pass separate website sections. Technically, a SPA contains only one page (a single index.html file) but visitors feel like they’re browsing multiple pages. When users move through different parts of a single-page application website, the URL changes only in its hash part.

Social shares and structured data

Websites often overlook social sharing optimization: we’ve learned that missing Twitter Cards top the list of the most common issues identified by SE Ranking’s Website Audit tool. No matter how insignificant it may look, implementing Twitter Cards and Facebook’s Open Graph will allow for rich sharing across popular social media channels, which is good for the website’s search visibility. 

Testing a SPA

Previously, Google Webmaster Tools included the Fetch as Google functionality which allowed seeing the downloaded HTTP response and page HTML as it was fetched and rendered by the search engine. But in 2019, Google removed the tool, and now you can only access some crawling and indexing information in the URL Inspection section of Search Console. It doesn’t give an informative preview of what Google sees but provides you with basic information about crawling and indexing.

Solving tracking problems

Since traditional tracking code in Google Analytics doesn’t work with single-page websites, you’ll have to use additional tools. The trick here is to record and monitor real-user interaction instead of pageviews. GA its own suggests tracking virtual pageviews by setting the set command and new page value. You can also implement plugins like Angulartics that track pageviews based on user navigation across the website.

There’s no way around basic SEO

The specific nature of SPAs aside, most general optimization advice suits this type of website. Basic SEO efforts entail:

  • Security: Protect your website with HTTPS if you haven't already. Otherwise, you risk being ignored by search engines and jeopardizing user data if the site uses any.
  • Content optimization: You need optimized content that is tailored to the appropriate user intents, well-organized, visually appealing, and rich in useful information. It will be difficult to provide visitors with the content they require if you have not compiled a keyword list for the site.
  • Link building: Backlinks tell Google how much trust other websites have in your website, so developing a backlink profile is an important part of SEO. Learn more about backlink quality and how to build your link profile using best practices.
  • Competitor monitoring: In the early stages of website development, you most likely researched your competitors. As with most SEO and marketing tasks, you must constantly monitor your niche.

Single-page application sites done privileges

To make your SPA shine in the eyes of web search tools, make its content easily accessible to crawlers. Remember to serve a static form to web search tools when providing guests with dynamic substance load, impacting speed, and consistent route. Furthermore, ensure that you have the correct sitemap, that you use unmistakable URLs rather than section identifiers, and that you name different substance types with organized information.



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