As of 2022, roughly 43% of professional developers used ReactJS, according to a Statista Survey.
With its ease of use and flexibility, it's no surprise that many developers choose ReactJS as their preferred framework.
Though ReactJS wasn’t necessarily built with SEO in mind, this doesn’t mean that you can’t optimize React for SEO or that the process is overly complicated.
What is ReactJS and How Does it Render Applications?
ReactJS greatly simplifies the process of building web and mobile applications. The framework was initially conceived to help develop single-page applications (SPAs). Over time, however, it developed into a library used to create complete websites and mobile applications.
When working with React, you’re plugging various components onto a page, and your app is ready to go.
Let’s say you’re building a page template for example, instead of writing all the code, you just plug whatever components that you’d like to include on a page.
In fact, a frontend developer can quickly build a page this way, also using pre-existing component libraries like Tailwind UI or MUI.
Here’s an example of one such component defining an H1 element on a page:
From a development perspective, this is a super simple and highly-scalable way to build websites and apps.
Asana, a well-known project management tool, moved to React for that very reason. As the company explains, “most of Asana’s application frontend is written in React and Typescript. That stack provides a lot of stability and performance.”
Dropbox cites similar reasons for having moved HelloSign Editor to React, and these are just some of the many examples.
Challenges of ReactJS for SEO
With React, everything renders on the client side. It means that, unlike traditional HTML pages, the source code doesn’t show your actual page elements like headers, images, or content.
Instead, it shows whatever ReactJS library components have been used to build the page. This means that there is nothing for a search engine to index.
In addition, a ReactJS website may also have slower page load times, which can negatively impact user experience and search engine rankings. This is because search engines prioritize websites that offer a fast and seamless user experience.
So, what are your options?
Recommended Reading: Dynamic Rendering and SEO
The Solution to Optimizing React Pages
The reason for that is simple: There isn’t much for it to index.
To solve that challenge, there are few things you can do.
1. Implement Server Side Rendering
One of the best practices for optimizing a ReactJS website for search engines is to implement server-side rendering (SSR). SSR involves rendering HTML on the server before sending it to the client, which can significantly improve page load times and search engine rankings.
Enabling SSR is actually quite simple. It involves using dedicated SEO plugins for React.
There are several such plugins on the market, here are some of the most popular ones:
- React Helmet - this plugin focuses on meta tags optimization and allows every React page to have its own custom meta tags.
- Gatsby Image, a plugin that allows you to add responsive images to your site.
- React Router - another popular solution that enables server-side rendering on React sites.
2. Use Meaningful URLs and Descriptive Metadata
Google's guidelines for SEO recommend using meaningful URLs, optimizing page titles and descriptions, and using descriptive anchor text for internal links.
These recommendations apply to ReactJS sites as well.
By using descriptive URLs and metadata, search engines can better understand the content of your website and provide relevant search results to users. This can help improve search engine rankings and drive more organic traffic to your website.
3. Optimize Images and Other Media
Images and other media can significantly impact page load times, which can negatively impact search engine rankings. By optimizing images and other media on your ReactJS website, you can improve page load times and provide a better user experience.
Optimizing images and other media involves compressing files to reduce their size, using appropriate file formats, and optimizing alt tags and captions.
ReactJS isn’t for everyone, and SEOs using it face a unique set of challenges in optimizing their web applications for search. But, with the right tools and strategies in place, these challenges can be overcome.
seoClarity’s Clarity Audits provide SEOs a way to quickly see if JS is rendered correctly to be indexed and identifies additional technical issues on React sites.
Sign up to see a demo and access this extension of your SEO team today.