JavaScript and SEO

Boston Web Marketing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Having celebrated its 21st birthday in May of 2016, it is certainly impressive that JavaScript remains the de-facto language of the web — doubly so when considering JavaScript began as a simple project written in just ten days — and recent developments show no indication of the popularity of JavaScript slowing down. Node.js remains extremely popular as a web server and JavaScript runtime environment given that most JavaScript technologies are now available as npm packages, and although PHP still dominates the static website market, JavaScript is favored by Google for its new Progressive Web Apps specification, and even the #1 Content Management System WordPress, powering 25% of websites, is being pushed by Matt Mullenweg to move from PHP to its new “Calypso” JavaScript-based interface. The JavaScript ecosystem is exploding with popular frameworks like Facebook’s React.js, Google’s Angular.js, Vue.js, Meteor.js, Ember.js, and Backbone.js as well as compile-to-JavaScript web languages like Elm, ClojureScript and Dart being actively developed and maintained — so if you work with technologically savvy clients in SEO, the chances of you running into a website built on one of these technologies is high, and at minimum there is a ton of upside to learning JavaScript because you get native front-end and back-end capabilities with a single language.

One very important point to understand about JavaScript for SEO is to be very careful to make sure that search engines can properly crawl the entire content of your website. While Google’s modern search engine crawlers have the ability to read content dynamically-generated by JavaScript, you must ensure that the content is indexed by the DOM before any client-side asynchronous JavaScript calls take place. In React, for example, this may mean calling the ReactDOM.render method before the AJAX calls that pull in your components. To test this, access your Search Console in Google Webmaster Tools, and under the Crawl section there is a feature called “Fetch As Google” — run “Fetch and Render”. Also bear in mind that crawlers by other search engine providers like Yahoo, Bing, and Baidu show no indication of being able to crawl JavaScript, so in order optimize search engine ranking for these other providers, you may want to ensure that your page includes static HTML templates that include the content that you want to be indexed.

If you are interested in learning JavaScript, there are more resources available than ever — websites like FreeCodeCamp and Codecademy offer free interactive lessons that teach JavaScript fundamentals, and many online courses are available on providers like Udacity, Coursera, Udemy, Lynda and more. New educational JavaScript books are always being released by technology publishers like Manning, O’Reilly and Packt Publishing. Or, of course you can always find a resource here at Boston Web Marketing.

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