SEO for React.js? Is it possible? In the age before JavaScript, static HTML code was commonly used to create websites. With JavaScript, it became possible for web developers to add more interactive features to websites. Navigation, as well as the actions that the user was able to take,  became more interactive.

React.js websites are challenging when it comes to SEO. Here we are going to discuss these issues and try to shed light by explaining some of the key aspects that will enable you to facilitate SEO implementation for React.js sites.

What is React.js?

React.js is a Javascript library, developed in open source by Facebook. The primary goal was to create user interfaces that will encourage and facilitate the development of applications on a single page. It’s ideal for developers to build large web applications in which data can easily be changed periodically. 

A man sitting at a desk with a laptop open in front of him.

Main advantages of React.js:

  • It's easier to learn due to its simple syntax. It only requires knowledge of HTML language, so developers won’t need to learn DeepScript, as they would’ve if they were working in Angular.

  • It offers a high degree of flexibility.

  • It has a virtual DOM (document object model) that allows you to organize documents in HTML, XHTML or XML formats in a tree from. This enables web browsers to better analyze different elements of the web application. 

  • When combined with ES6/7 it can handle high loads with ease.

  • There is a hierarchy in the data down. Secondary elements cannot affect the main data.

  • Since it’s completely open-source, users get a lot of daily updates and improvements. A lot of developers from all over the world are contributing and improving the system constantly. 

  • It is very light. Data that runs on the user side can easily be represented on the server-side simultaneously. 

  • Migration between several versions is usually very easy since Facebook provides "codemods" to automate most of the process.

On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages:

  • There’s no official documentation, due to the fast development of React.js. Many developers contribute individually and that makes everything a bit chaotic.

  • You will need a lot of deep knowledge if you wish the integrate the Reacts.js user interface into the MVC framework.

However, we must not forget that React.js  is the trendiest Javascript library right now since companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, New York Times, Yahoo, Whatsapp, Dropbox, Airbnb, and Microsoft are using it.

What is Single Page Application?

It is a type of website where everything is shown and processed on the same page. Everything comes from a single file and that’s how the processing is enabled. The way in which these applications work is different, weight is added on the client-side, while it is subtracted from the server-side. Earlier it was the server that was sending the HTML file with the user’s request, and now in SPAs, when the HTML is received that entails further development.

SEO problem

The tracking and indexing of these sites can become difficult for Google since they are almost blank pages since with the user's request to the server only a JavaScript file is received. Despite the progress made by Google in tracking and interpreting JS, bots are not yet able to execute JavaScript and, the management of HTML data complicates the situation further.

An office setting with a desk, computer, and three lamps.

For Google to correctly interpret the web an HTML file with all the metadata has to be received. The management of this request complicates the technical development of these websites by increasing requests to the server.

Fortunately, React.js allows for either client-side or server-side rendering of JavaScript (making it “isomorphic”), which means that a React site can compete for organic traffic.

How does Isomorphic React help in SEO?

If JavaScript is disabled on the client-side, it is executed on the server-side by sending the final content to the client. If it is enabled, it works as a dynamic application with multiple components. It loads infinitely faster and the improvement in the user experience is also notable when compared to traditional websites.

How does Prerendering help with SEO? 

This solution represents the page as a browser. So it will wait for the page to be fully loaded before the HTML content is returned to the user. This allows the web to be correctly tracked by bots thus eliminating the abovementioned problem (SEO for React.js).

In conclusion, we would like to present some additional tools to improve SEO for React.js websites:

React Helmet helps you create the most important SEO elements, such as title tag, meta tag, meta description, etc.

React Router is a navigational component that helps you create routes between different pages, that’s how you can build a website with SEO-friendly URL structure.