How to build fast and SEO friendly web apps using ReactJs, Redux and NextJs


Everyone is aware of the fact that SEO is the most vital digital marketing tool. No startup or enterprise can grow without using effective SEO practices. SEO is made up of several elements and one must understand the working of these elements to know the SEO as a whole.

Mastering SEO means more traffic, opportunities, and profit for your business. Apart from that, SEO is also useful for building relationships, brand awareness, and establishing yourself as a trustworthy and reliable expert in your respective field.

Importance of SEO

SEO is important as it keeps the search results of search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo fair. It eliminates or reduces the possibility of manipulating search results. In the absence of SEO, it would be extremely easy to manipulate the search results.

In simple words, SEO is Google’s way to determine the rank of sites for the query entered into the search engine. To gain higher SEO ranks, websites must appeal to its visitors along with meeting all other criteria.

Even the users trust search engine due to SEO. Whenever they find a website ranking on top, then they believe that the site is a credible source for their entered query. The ranking is very crucial as it will fetch more clicks and traffic for your site.

Another thing which makes SEO so special is the fact that it’s cost-effectiveness. Many companies spend a fortune on paid ads for better reach; however, not all companies have that luxury as they are running on a very tight schedule. SEO is a boon for those companies. As it offers them with a cost-effective way to drive qualified traffic without paying for it.

We just saw the significance of SEO; now let’s have a look at its working principle. The search engine utilizes web crawlers to determine any website’s ranking on the search results.

A web crawler is nothing but a bot whose job is to regularly visit the web pages and analysing it as per the specific criteria established by the respective search engine. Every search engine has its own crawler. For example, Google’s crawler name is Googlebot.

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The Googlebot searches pages link by link to gather vital information on various aspects like content uniqueness, website freshness, and the total number of backlinks. Not only this but is also downloads CSS and HTML files and then sends that data to the Google servers.

SEO in single-page applications How crawlers work

React-driven single-page applications (SPAs) are becoming popular among tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many more. It’s mainly because React enables for building responsive, fast, and animation-rich web applications that can offer smooth and rich user experience.

However, it’s only one face of the coin. The web applications that are developed with React possess limited capabilities for SEO. This causes problems for the web applications that get most of their traffic and visitors through only SEO marketing.

But there’s good news as there are few ready-made react solutions that can help you to overcome the SEO challenges associated with the SPA. But before we discuss that, let’s understand what SPAs are and what are some useful ways to understand SEO challenges in React.

What is SPA and why you must use React?

Single page application is a web app that works inside the browser and doesn’t need page reloading while it’s in the use. This is because its content is served in a single HTML page and this page is updated dynamically; however, it doesn’t reload with every user interaction.

Apps like Google Maps, Facebook, Gmail, Google Drive, Twitter, and GitHub are example of single-page applications. The major advantage of a well-configured SPA is the user experience (UX). It’s because the user can experience the natural environment of an application without waiting for a page reload or any other thing.

To build a SPA, developers can use any of the prominent JavaScript frameworks which are Angular, React, and Vue. Out of these three frameworks, React is the most popular among the developers. This was again proved when State of JavaScript Survey in 2019 named React as the most popular JavaScript framework.

React is the developer’s first choice when it comes to developing SPAs because of its component-based architecture which makes it easy to reuse the code and divide the large application into smaller fragments.

Also, maintenance and debugging of large SPA projects is way easier than that for the big multi-page apps. Apart from that, virtual DOM ensures that the app performance is high. Not only this but React library also supports every modern browser which includes older versions as well.

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Challenges associated with SPA optimization for search engines

Optimization of single-page applications is a tough job as it involves several challenges. As we already discussed above that in a SPA, the page first loads on the client-side which acts as the empty container. This empty container is then filled by the content integrated by JavaScript.

Moreover, you will also require a browser for running the script into the SPA. Only after this, it will be able to load the web pages dynamically.

Now, when the search engine bots visit any SPA website, then they won’t be able to crawl the page. They can only crawl it if the entire content is already updated in the user’s browsers.

In case, if bots don’t find any relevant content then they will regard your website as blank and poorly constructed. If this happens, then the search engine won’t index your website or web application.

These are not the only reasons that make React development so difficult with respect to SEO. Let’s have a look at some other reasons one by one.

Delays in content fetching

Web crawlers do visit the website regularly; however, the frequency is not daily. That’s the reason why search engines miss indexing if the content on the page is being updated with every query.

Once the CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files are successfully downloaded, then the data is fetched from the API. Only after that, it’s sent to the server.

Limited crawling period

Search engine bots have a limited window of time in which they crawl the various pages of the websites. In this restricted period, it analyses as many pages as possible.

However, once the time is up, it’ll simply leave your website no matter what. This also means that if your website takes a long time to load, parse, and execute the code, then it will simply leave the site as its crawling period has already been expired.

JavaScript code errors

It takes heavy lines of coding to develop a website and even a single error in the JavaScript code can make it tough for the search engines in the process of indexing the page.

In such cases, the JavaScript parser won’t be able to process the error which will ultimately result in it in showing the SyntaxError instantly. That’s the reason why you must double-check the JavaScript code before you submit it to Google.

One URL for all pages

This is one of the biggest drawbacks of SPAs. It’s doesn’t create that much of a problem if there’s only one web page on the website. However, in case of a multi-pages website, if that one URL is not updated then it becomes almost impossible for the search engines to index the page.

Meta tags

To help Google acknowledge your web page content, you would require unique page titles and descriptions for every page. If you fail to do this, then Google will take the same description for all the pages.

However, that’s where it becomes a problem in case of a single page application with React Native as you won’t be able to change these tags in the React.

How to overcome the above challenges with React JS

As you saw above, there are many challenges when it comes to the SEO optimization of SPAs. Although, there are a few ways by which you can overcome these challenges and make SEO-friendly React app. These ways are:

Prerendering

Prerendering is one of the common approaches that is used for making single as well as multi-page web apps SEO-friendly. One of the most prominent way of doing it by using the prerendering services such as prerender.io.

It’s generally used when the search bots are unable to render the pages correctly. In such cases, you can use pre-renderers which are the special programs that intercept the requests to the website. So, there are two cases here as shown in the figure.

First, if the request is from a bot then the pre-renderers send a cached static HTML version of the website. Second, if it’s from the user, then the usual page is loaded.

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As compared to the server-side rendering, pre-rendering has a lighter server payload. However, it’s also true that most of the prerendering services are paid and they don’t work well with the dynamically changing content. Let’s have a look at the pro and cons of prerendering in detail.

Pros

  • Supports all the latest web novelties
  • Simpler and easier to implement
  • Requires minimal to no codebase modifications
  • Executes every type of modern JavaScript by transforming it into static HTML

Cons

  • Not suitable for pages that show frequently changing data
  • These services are paid
  • Pre-rendering can be quite a time consuming if the website is huge and consists of many pages
  • You have to rebuild the pre-rendered page for each time you modify its content

Server-side rendering

If you’re looking to build a React web application, then you must know the difference between server-side and client-side rendering.

Client-side rendering means that the Google bot and browser get HTML files or files that have very little content. After that, JavaScript code downloads the content from the server which enables the users to view it on their screens.

If we see it from the SEO perspective, then client-rendering poses few problems. It’s because the Google bots get very little to no content and thus they are not able to index it properly.

However, with server-side rendering, the Google bots and browsers can get HTML files along with all the content. This helps Google bots to index the page well.

Server-side rendering is one of the easiest ways to create React web applications that are SEO-friendly. Although, if you need to build a single page application that can render on the server, then you’ll require to add Next.js.

Isomorphic React apps

Isomorphic React application is something that can run both client-side as well as the server-side. With the help of isomorphic JavaScript, you can run the React app along with capturing the rendered HTML which is usually rendered by the browser. This rendered HTML file can be then sent to anyone who requests the site.

The HTML file is used as a base by the app on the client-side and then continues operating in the browser as if it was rendered on the browser only.

An isomorphic app determines if the client can run the scripts or not. The code is rendered on the server when a JavaScript is turned off. This enables bots and browser to get all the required meta content and tags in CSS and HTML.

The moment JavaScript is switched on, the first page is rendered on the server which enables the browser to get CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files. After that JavaScript begins running which loads rest of the content dynamically.

This is the reason why the first screen is showed faster. Not only this, but it also makes the app more compatible with older browsers. Even the user interactions are smoother as compared to the client-side rendering of websites.

Developing real-time isomorphic apps can be a pain as it consumes a massive amount of time. However, there are few frameworks that can make real-time isomorphic app development simpler and faster. The two of the most popular frameworks are Gatsby and Next.js.

Gatsby is a free open-source compiler which enables developers to make scalable, fast, and powerful web applications. It’s important to notice that Gatsby doesn’t offer server-side rendering, rather than that, it generates static website and then stores the generated HTML files on the hosting service or cloud.

This was Gatsby, now let’s have a look at Next.js in detail.

Next.js framework for SEO optimization

Next.js is a powerful tool when it comes to solving the SEO optimization challenges of SPA and React-based web applications. So, what exactly is Next.js?

What is Next.js?

Next.js is a React framework which is used to create React apps without any hassles. It also enables hot code reloading and automatic code splitting. Moreover, Next.js can also do full-fledged server-side rendering which means that HTML is generated for every request.

Next.js comes with a plethora of benefits for both client as well as for the development team.

How to optimize Next.js app for SEO?

Let’s have a look at the various steps associated with SEO optimization of Next.js apps.

Make your website crawlable

Next.js offers two options for offering crawlable content to search engines. These options are server-side rendering or prerendering.

In the below guide, we’ll show you how you can prerender your website. To prerender the app, you have to update next.config.js in the following and run the npm run export command.


    const withSass = require('@zeit/next-sass')
    module.exports = withSass(
      exportPathMap: function () 
        return 
          '/':  page: '/' ,
        
      
    );


This will create a new directory named as out which will contain all the static pages.

Create a sitemap

Having a sitemap is always preferable when it comes to SEO as it helps the search engines to index the website in an appropriate way. But, creating a sitemap is a tedious process. That’s why we will use nextjs-sitemap-generate package which will automate all the tasks.

This might seem like an excessive measure since you only have one page. However, you’ll be totally covered in case you think of expanding or growing your SPA.


    npm i nextjs-sitemap-generator


Once you install the package, all you have to do is add the following code to the configuration file.


    const sitemap = require('nextjs-sitemap-generator');  
    sitemap(
      baseUrl: 'your_website_base_url>',
      pagesDirectory: __dirname + "/pages",
      targetDirectory : 'static/'
    );


This generates a sitemap.xml file which is inside the out directory. However, you must note that you’ll need to manually provide your sitemap to Google Search Console. Only after that, Google will recognize it.

Addition of metadata

Addition of metadata to the website is considered good practice since it assists the crawlers in understanding your page’s content. Next.js adds most of the metadata automatically which includes the content type as well as the viewpoint.

You must define the meta description tag by simply editing Head component in index.js file of the following.


Head>
    meta name="description" content="Buy beautiful, high quality carpets 
for your home.
"/> title>Beautiful, high quality carpets | CarpetCitytitle> link rel="stylesheet" href="https://cdn.snipcart.com/themes/v3.0.0-beta.3/
default/snipcart.css" /> /Head>

If you complete all the SEO steps shown above, then Google Lighthouse will say something similar about your SPA:

How to make your web application fast with Redux?

You can’t call a web application or a website SEO-friendly until and unless it’s fast. Speed is a very important prerequisite for calling any website or web application SEO-friendly.

Now, the question arises that how can you make your web application faster. This is where Redux steps in. Let’s understand what Redux exactly is and what are its benefits.

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What is Redux?

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Redux is nothing but a library and pattern which manages and updates the application state by using events which are known as actions.

It also serves as a centralized store for a state which is required to be utilized in your entire application. There are also rules which ensure that the state is only updated in an expected fashion.

Why use Redux?

There are many reasons as to why one must use Redux. One of the reason is that it makes it easier to understand why, where, when, and how the state in the application is being updated.

It also gives you the idea as to how the application logic will behave when those updates occur. Let’s have a look at other reasons one by one:

Predictable state

The state is always predictable when it comes to the Redux. If the same action and state are passed through the reducer then the same result is produced since reducers are pure functions.

Other than that, the state is also immutable which means that it never changes. This is precisely why it becomes possible to implement exhausting tasks like infinite undo and redo.

Maintainability

Redux is quite tough when it comes to the organization and structure of code. This makes it easy for someone who possesses the knowledge of Redux to easily understand the structure of a Redux application. Thus, it enhances the maintainability of codes.

Debuggable for longer period

Redux makes the debugging of an application easy. Logging state and actions make it easy to understand network errors, coding errors, and other forms of bugs that may arise during production.

State persistence

You can also persist many of the app’s state to local storage and then restore it once the refresh is done.

When to use Redux?

In many frameworks including React, the communication between two components that lack the parent-child relationship is discouraged. As per React, to build this, you must you can create a global event system that follows the Flux’s pattern. This is where Redux steps in.

With Redux, you have a store where you can easily keep all the application state. If there is any change in Component A, then that change is relayed to the other Components B and C which are needed to be aware of this change of state in Component A.

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This scenario is much better than what we had earlier imagined. It’s because in case we had left our components to communicate with each other, then there could’ve been an error or an unreadable codebase. With Redux, you can avoid this situation.

Component A sends the state changes to the store, in case Component B or C requires this state change then they simply get it from the store. This makes the data flow logic seamless.

Conclusion

Single-page applications or more commonly known as web applications are known for offering top-notch seamless interactions and exceptional performances as compared to the native applications. Additionally, they also offer ease of web development and a lighter server payload.

It would be a real shame if you miss these benefits just because of SEO-related challenges. But it’s no longer the case, as you can overcome all the SEO-challenges with the help of solutions mentioned in the blog above.

I hope this article provided you with useful insights as to how you can develop SEO-friendly and fast web applications. However, there’s an easier way to develop your web app and that is by hiring dedicated developers from Peerbits who possess top-notch skill sets and experience.

These dedicated developers are well-adept in developing fast and SEO-friendly web apps by using the above methods. So, what are you waiting for? Hire dedicated developers from Peerbits now to get started.

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