JavaScript SEO: Best Practices for Beginners

JavaScript and SEO do not always have the best relationship. Normally search engines are not well equipped to crawl JavaScript. This is the reason why we miss out on content that is included on a webpage using a JavaScript framework. But if, as a developer and digital marketer you are able to figure out the technology that surrounds JavaScript then you can exploit it to make SEO friendly websites and reach out to maximum users.

The issue with JavaScript is that it suffers from crawl bugs that make the website loading time longer causing a performance lag. This is because for a JavaScript website to be displayed, it first has to be rendered by either a search engine bot or a client. But if you use specific tools to design a JavaScript website, you can do away with this loading time and optime your web page’s performance.

Most search engines do not have enough computing capacity to render JavaScrpits efficiently. This causes a crawl or additional rendering time. Unlike HTML, a crawler cannot directly read websites designed using JavaScript. Thus, while an HTML website gets crawled immediately, a JavaScript website takes time to display completely. JavaScript does not grant direct access to the crawler. There is a long procedure that takes place. Firstly the crawler has to analyze the Document Object Model, for which it has to wait for it to first get loaded and listed. Once the loading and listing are complete, it is only after that can the website be rendered. Even if this is an automatic process that happens simultaneously as you are browsing through the web, it does take a higher amount of time as compared to HTML websites.

Some basic tips to use JavaScript SEO

You need to remember a few things before you start using JavaScript and SEO together. At first, you should know that if your content depends on the actions of your client in order to be displayed then you will face an issue with partial indexing. So the content that you are embedding using JavaScript should be such that it can be indexed in order for search engines to be able to locate the website easily. If you are of the opinion that JavaScript and HTML are similar in functioning, it is not so. There are a few differences you need to keep in mind to make SEO friendly websites.

  1. The first step towards making an SEO friendly JavaScript website is to start a GET request for an HTML code you have for the website. When you do so the browser you get is easy for search engine bots to locate.
  2. As we discussed, it is the rendering of the Document Object Model that takes time causing the web page to load slowly. This is essentially a document that maps out the content that will be added to your website. It also shows the connections that exist between all the individual elements that make up your website. So when you prepare the Document Object Model, this helps the browser get all the information it needs to make the content of your web page readable for your users.
  3. Once your target website is ready to be processed, the browser begins the IDOM load, which means the original HTML document that you had uploaded will get loaded and be stored with the browser or search engine bot being ready to implement the elements of JavaScript.
  4. This is an important step where all elements like the content of your webpage, its functions, can be edited, deleted, or even expanded as per your needs.
  5. Once all these steps are completed, the browser will continue with the loading process until all the resources are loaded. And then your website will be completed and ready to use.

Dos and Don’ts of SEO friendly JavaScript website

Out of all the steps discussed above, the two stages that are closely associated with SEO are the load event and events that involve user involvement.

  1. Load events

It is only after your website is completely loaded that the browser triggers the load event. This is an important step to note because, when a search engine renders JavaScript, it usually uses the same technology and processes as your general browser application. So this is also important for crawlers who take a sort of a picture of this content before the load event is triggered by your browser. It is through this picture that they can associate the content with users’ search and rank your website better on search engine results. Any event added or changed after the load event has started will not be noted by crawlers and hence will be of no use in the search engine optimization process as none of this can be indexed. This issue is common among websites that have to regularly update their content to meet their user needs like news websites or social media platforms.

  1. Post load events

Once the load event initiated by the browser is completed, other events are then fired by the JavaScript itself. These are usually those events that are triggered due to some user action. Suppose a change is caused on your website due to some click-event by the user, that will not be indexed and hence that will not appear in any search engine results. But this is not the case with every search engine. The search engine Google now comes with the capacity of reading these post load user events as well. Just like the load events, it can read and analyze the post load events by taking a picture of the content and hence make these changes SEO friendly as well.

  1. URLs that can be Indexed

If you want your URL to be indexable and SEO friendly then you will have to make sure that your website has a server side URL instead of a client side URL. This is because only a server side URL will be readable by a crawler as it can be indexed. But your JavaScript by itself cannot generate an URL. You will need to provide it with its web document that is capable of providing a status code that will provide an answer to any inquiry posted by a client or search engine bot. Additionally, you can also use pushState to be able to change your URL if the need be. And this is why your URL should be server side, as otherwise, you may run the risk of producing plagiarized content.

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