Single Page Application SEO Best Practices
There is no denying that SEO and Single Page Applications (SPAs) don’t get along very well because optimizing a single page for multiple search engine keywords and phrases is no simple process.
However, companies like Google, Netflix, and LinkedIn are still creating SPAs to satisfy end users’ demands and expectations, including those for lightning-fast load times and few page refreshes. In fact, there is top-of-the-line SEO management out there who is available to assist you with the SEO of your website.
In this article, you’ll learn what Single Page Application means, why it is so challenging to optimize, and some best practices you can use to get your one-page web app indexed and ranked on Google.
What is a Single Page Application (SPA)?
A single-page application is an advanced web application that interacts with the server only when it needs to fetch or save data. The rest of the time, all processing is done on the client side in the browser.
Because the entire page does not need to reload each time a user interacts, SPAs can offer a significantly smoother and more responsive user experience than traditional web apps.
Advantages of Single Page Application
SPA solutions have several advantages on both the consumer experience side of the equation and the backend design side.
An individual file load for each HTML, CSS, and JS
With a Single-Page Application, the server doesn’t provide further HTML to you after the first page loads; instead, you download all of it at once. Your browser creates the user interface when the server delivers you a shell page (UI).
The SPA then responds with requests for data and markup as you click about. Your browser uses the raw materials that the server sends back to change the user interface (UI) while never having to reload the entire page.
SPAs are particularly helpful for heavily browsed pages that employ recurring templates due to their easy interchangeability.
No further server requests
SPAs reduce the total load on your servers by reducing the number of servers required to handle the same amount of traffic because the server doesn’t need to spend time and resources performing multiple renderings.
Quick and Flexible Front-end Development
SPAs enable faster front-end site development in addition to faster performance times. It is caused by the decoupled design of SPAs or the division of front-end display from backend services.
Many crucial business-related features don’t undergo much backend change. You may occasionally change the “look” or presentation of how your consumers sign up, register, make purchases, and track orders. However, the logic and data orchestration that underpins those actions remain mostly unchanged.
Single Page Application SEO: The Cold, Hard Facts
The content inside the shell constantly changes as new bits of code are performed, allowing users to switch between views of your app without having to load new HTML pages.
Although the way SPAs work improves user experience, it also creates several bottlenecks that are vital to the SEO performance of your project:
- Despite being generated on the same HTML page, each view of your app needs to have its unique, clean URL to rank on search
- For your pages to be discovered by search engines and social media bots or to display previews when they are linked to social media, static HTML should include metadata
Why Is It Challenging to Optimize SPAs?
Search engines exclusively crawled text-based content from HTML before JS took over web development. Google began to consider adding the capability for interpreting JS resources and comprehending pages using them as it gained popularity.
Despite having made significant progress throughout the years, there are still many issues with how web crawlers access and view material on single-page applications.
In terms of making efforts to grasp JS and single-page application websites, no search engine has made any ground-breaking announcements yet, apart from Google.
Here are some of the challenges that make SPAs difficult to optimize:
Because SPAs use AJAX to load content asynchronously, this means that the initial HTML page doesn’t include all the necessary content. This can make it difficult for search engine crawlers to find and index all the content on your site.
Google announced that many barriers were stopping them from indexing JS-rich webpages when they made their announcement in 2014 about upgrading the functionality to understand JS pages.
Fortunately, Google stated in 2019 that the median time needed for JS-based web pages to transition from crawler to renderer was 5 seconds. In 2020, Martin Splitt of Google announced that it was no longer in use. Or, more accurately, that it “is more complicated.”
Although search engines can find the page, they won’t be able to determine whether the content is good quality and speaks to the search intent.
Another challenge that is common with SPAs is the lack of HTML tags, which can make it difficult to track specific events on your website. Every time a user loads or reloads a page on traditional websites, the analytics code is invoked, recording each view.
A single-page application, however, only runs the code once when users navigate between pages, not causing each pageview. Because of dynamic content loads, GA cannot receive a server response for every pageview.
Fortunately, there are techniques to monitor user activity on a single-page application website (we’ll discuss them later), but they demand more work.
What Are the Best SEO Strategies for Single-Page Applications?
Fortunately, you can use a few top SEO strategies to optimize your SPA and help you get the results you want.
1. Server-Side Rendering
- SSR implementation is time-consuming and frequently difficult. You will therefore need extra resources and development time
- Your SPA will have to send extra server requests, increasing load time and slow response. This can be partially alleviated by caching
- SSR requires a Node.js backend to function. Even though SSR may be implemented with non-Node backends via a PHP extension, these solutions are not widely used
Pre-rendering is an alternative if SSR is not an option for any reasons mentioned. Pre-rendering allows you to execute your SPA in your development environment on a headless web browser, such as Chrome, or Firefox.
Then you take a snapshot of your page output, and in response to the server request, you replace the HTML files with this snapshot. Pre-rendering is comparable to SSR, except that pre-deployment instead of a live server is used for the rendering.
With Gulp, Webpack, and other tools, this rendering procedure can easily be integrated into a build sequence. Pre-rendering has the primary benefit of not requiring a Node.js production server and not placing an unnecessary burden on your production server.
Nevertheless, pre-rendering has disadvantages as well:
- Pages that show data that changes on demand, like news websites, are incompatible with it
- Pre-rendering is inappropriate for pages that include information unique to an individual, such as a user account page that contains personal information. But because you wouldn’t want to index these pages in the first place, these kinds of pages are less significant for SEO
- The SPA’s routes must all be independently pre-rendered. If the SPA is huge, this could take a long time
How does it work? While using the HTML file created on the server side, users of such a website interact with it as though the browser is displaying the content.
For example, For React, consider Next.js and Gatsby. With the latter, HTML is stored in the cloud and a static website is produced, whereas the former generates HTML for each request.
Similar to that, Nuxt.js for Vue translates JS to Server-side HTML before sending the information to the browser.
2. SEO Friendly URLs
Friendly URLs are easy to read and type and convey what the destination page is about. Using dashes instead of underscores is important because Google sees dashes as spaces.
For example, the following two URLs would be considered friendly:
The first URL would be preferable for search engine optimization because it is easier to read and type. In addition, you should use all lowercase letters in your URLs. Although Google is not case-sensitive, some web servers are. If you use uppercase letters in your URL and the server is case-sensitive, your website will not be accessible.
3. Meta Tag
One of the most fundamental SEO components is the meta tag SEO elements. They provide information about your website to search engines and help improve your click-through rate.
There are two types of meta tags:
Meta tags only affect how your website appears in search engine results pages (SERPs). These are called “SERP meta tags.” Meta tags affect how your website appears in SERPs and how users interact with your website. These are called “user experience meta tags.”
The most critical SERP meta tag is the title tag. The title of your page should be relevant to the page’s content and no more than 60 characters long.
The meta description is another important SERP meta tag. The meta description is a summary of your page’s content, which shouldn’t be longer than 160 characters and should be relevant to the page’s information.
4. Social Shares and Structured Data
Websites frequently neglect social sharing optimization, as seen by the fact that missing Twitter Cards are among the most prevalent problems found by SE Ranking’s Website Audit tool.
Implementing Twitter Cards and Facebook’s Open Graph would enable rich sharing across well-known social media channels, which is beneficial for a website’s search visibility, regardless of how minor it may appear.
If you share your link without following these guidelines, a random—and maybe irrelevant—the visual object will be shown as a preview. In making diverse kinds of website content readable to crawlers, structured data is also crucial.
5. Solving Tracking Problems
You will need to utilize additional tools because Google Analytics’ standard tracking code does not function with single-page websites. The key here is to track and record user activity rather than page views.
GA itself advises setting the set command and new page value to track virtual pageviews. Additionally, you may utilize plugins like Angulartics, which monitors page views depending on how visitors move around a website.
You may also configure Google Tag Manager’s History Change triggers to record user interactions. Other solutions that collect RUM (real user monitoring) data can aid you in SPA tracking.
6. Internal links, Breadcrumbs, and Navigation
The URL is the main identifier of a web page for users and search engines alike. A clear and concise URL is, therefore, essential. Using a server-side framework like Ruby on Rails or Django, you can utilize its built-in routing engine to create informative URLs.
For instance, a URL like website.com/articles/567 would become website.com/articles/567-SEO-for-single-page-applications if the article’s title is SEO for Single Page Applications.
7. XML Sitemap
A properly designed XML Sitemap published to the Google Search Console can provide web crawlers access to more of a website’s content. You can include all of your website’s pages, even if they are not accessible from the home page.
Well-Executed Single-Page Application Websites
You must make your SPA’s content simple for crawlers to access if you want it to rank highly in search engine results. Don’t forget to provide a static version to search engines while providing guests with dynamic content load, lightning-fast speed, and seamless navigation.
Developers are converting to what Airbnb programmer Spike Brehm refers to as “the hard way”—balancing between the client and the server—to maintain the UX-focused advantages of SPA and score well in search.
Think About Developing a Multi-Page or Hybrid Application
Choosing a single-page application means you’ll probably lose out on some SEO juice along the way, even though the previous tips and methods will be helpful. However, as well-known brands show, the consumer experience can occasionally be more crucial.
There are possible solutions if SEO and single-page applications are still a problem.
- To make a multi-page application easier for search engines to index, think about using static content (sacrificing the customer experience)
- Create a hybrid application that integrates different SPAs
- You can use static pages for landing pages and SEO marketing to link users to your single-page application
The SEO for single-page applications is not as scary as it seems. You can maintain a fast, pleasant customer experience while still getting your website to rank highly in search results.
You can take into account the following seven best practices to make sure that your single-page application is well-optimized for search:
- Server-side rendering
- SEO Friendly URLs
- Meta tags
- Social Shares and structured data
- Solving Tracking Problems
- Internal links, breadcrumbs, and navigation
- XML Sitemap
By following the tips and methods in this guide, you can be sure that your single-page application is on the right track to pleasing users and search engines.