I am pretty sure that you have heard/read the term PWA (progressive web app) at least several times, after all, it is often used by companies like Google.

Thanks to Google this technology gained momentum and that’s why you see more and more people talking about it. After all, it is supposed to significantly improve the experience and increase the speed for mobile users. 

But what does this mean? Will Google give more relevance to PWAs? Do PWAs really load faster? Will all mobile websites will be PWAs at some point? These are only some of the questions that are bound to arise.

In this article, we will take a look at the issue and try to answer questions like the ones stated above.

SEO? What was that again?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to a set of techniques and tools that allow you to optimize your websites or Progressive Web Apps in organic search results of search engines in a way that will affect their rankings. That may sound a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you. 

So, the goal is to rank higher on Google and other search engines. The way to achieve this can include multiple techniques, but it is of utmost importance to add relevant content to your website and also amend and refine the existing content. If you use the right keywords, paired with high-quality content, your customer will know that you are offering exactly what they are looking for. 

SEO specialist working on his laptop focused on his work.

The terms that your potential customers are searching need to be linked to relevant pages, that way your pages will get good positions in SERPs (search engine result pages). In addition, your website or PWA must be designed in such a way that enables search engines to find it and register it easily, as this also affects rankings and domain authority. 

And a PWA?

We published one article on Progressive Web Apps and their role in the future of Mobile Web App Development. They are seen as a bridge between mobile apps and websites, or to put it in even simpler terms, they are web pages that behave like native apps

Progressive Web Applications and SEO - How are they related?

How do you optimize progressive web applications for search engines, is that even possible? Well, you can’t approach SEO of a PWA in the same way as you’d approach SEO of a normal website. But, don’t let this discourage you from investing in a Progressive Web App. 

Firstly, when you’re using PWAs, you are using the latest technology. PWAs are oriented towards the future, i.e. they are built in a way that makes search engines respond well to them and thus they are able to stand out from their competition. PWAs have an offline mode that is always up to date and the loading times are much faster compared to both websites and native apps. In a way, we can say that PWAs are the best websites.

PWAs are built from the perspective of the Mobile-First philosophy. After all, these apps are designed primarily for mobile browsing. With PWAs you can motivate customers and keep them interested via Web Push notifications, that can take them to the home screen, for example. This has a positive effect on user behavior as well. 

For instance, if your clients find you via organic search, they will be encouraged to visit you again. Returning visitors are very important and will have a big impact on your PWA traffic. The term ‘traffic’ here refers to the number of visits (visitors if we’re talking of unique visits) to your PWA during a certain period of time. Google Analytics and other analytics tools allow you to check your traffic and have a full understanding of how many people have visited your PWA. 

Software development team having a collaborative session and discussing work.

Once your PWA is on the home screen of your customer’s smartphone, you can continue to build your relationship by sending special offers via push messages. This is not something that’s connected with organic search or search engines, but it allows you to expand your relationship with your customers, and ultimately encourage them to use more of your products or services. After all, that is the goal of every business. 

On top of that, it makes sense to use a PWA from a financial point of view. Less effort is required to create a PWA, compared to a native application. With PWAs you won’t need a developer account for the App Store or Google Play, which is a significant cost cut.

So, what can you do?

You should pay attention to some important details in the process of technical implementation of your PWA, to ensure that Google and other search engines will pick it up. Firstly, we should say that PWAs are developed in JavaScript.

  • Make sure that the content of your PWA can be searched by search engine programs, aka crawlers (for Google that’s the Googlebot). The URL of your PWA should not contain a hashtag (#), because if it does Googlebot will no longer "read" anything that follows.

  • In addition, you must include the keywords that you consider important in the URL, as then it will be more likely for your PWA to rank higher for those KWs.  

  • Use Mobile First responsive design. A lot of people nowadays use their smartphones to find something. You should have this in mind when developing your PWA. This has a positive effect on Google, especially since it released the Mobile-First indexing update.

  • The Progressive Web Apps feature a HTTPS certificate, so they are encrypted. This ensures that all PWA URLs also reflect this.

  • Use Progressive enhancement for your PWA. This ensures that the Progressive Web App also works with older browser versions, even those that are aren’t compatible with the latest technologies.

  • The Google Search Console offers you a tool called URL Inspection Tool.  This tool allows you to check whether a PWA URL will be crawled by Googlebot and how it will calculate its value and relevance. That way you’ll get a clearer perspective of your PWA’s success and potential traffic.

  • Measure how fast your PWA really is. Page speed is also considered by Google when assigning rankings to sites. You can use tools such as Lighthouse or WebPageTest.

And what are the benefits?

  1. Speed up your indexability - PWAs speed up the indexing process, i.e. they are indexed faster. 

  2. Increase Engagement and Performance - PWAs work much faster than traditional websites. Fast loading increases the performance and conversion rate and search engines reward you for that. 

  3. Less Friction - There are fewer steps, which means it is easier to engage users. Unlike mobile apps, PWAs don’t take too long to download. 

In other words, PWAs are a great option for SEO because they deliver the best web experience and that also helps you build long-lasting relationships with customers.