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How PWAs & SEO Can Work Together for Your Business
Dispelling the Myth:

How PWAs & SEO Can Work Together for Your Business

25 Jun 2023

A mobile-first approach and the rise of Progressive Web Apps can increase your website’s conversion rate and give you a competitive edge in pursuing organic traffic.

There can be no denying that Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) present a tremendous opportunity for growth for any business. Practically every merchant is likely to make the switch to PWA eventually.

In this article, we aim to dispel some common assumptions regarding the relationship between Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and SEO. We will provide a clear understanding of how PWA interacts with SEO.

Why is SEO a concern?

Progressive Web Apps offer many advantages, but maintaining a competitive edge requires ensuring your website has a sound technical setup.

Many businesses show interest in Progressive Web Apps but are hesitant to implement the technology. This hesitation can stem from fear of changing established systems that are already successful, as well as a lack of complete understanding of the interaction between PWAs and SEO.

If it ain’t broke, don’t touch it?

SEO optimization is a field that is constantly evolving and adapting to new developments. Despite having a perfect SEO score today, changes in search engine algorithms or the emergence of new trends, such as mobile-first indexing, can alter the status quo.

You must be adaptable and quick to respond to stay ahead of the competition.

Technical SEO configuration can be a complicated and sometimes challenging process for website owners. However, the fundamental principles of technical SEO remain the same for any website, whether it is a PWA or not. With some understanding and effort, optimizing technical SEO does not have to be difficult.

To ensure that your website appears correctly on search engine result pages (SERPs), it is important to properly structure, mark, and make visible the content you want to display in SERPs. Also, you must prevent search engines from accessing elements that should not be visible.

If you are not sure whether your website is adhering to optimal SEO practices, a technical SEO audit can be very useful in identifying any problems and providing a detailed plan for fixing them.

Ok, but how do PWAs and SEO work together exactly?

Progressive Web Apps differ from traditional HTML-based websites.

This caused a misconception that search engines can’t index PWAs. This is not true, though.

Like any other web page, Progressive Web Apps can be indexed

but different strategies will need to be used to ensure that search engines can see and understand the content of your website. Let’s take a look more closely to see why.

Client-Side Rendering vs. Server-Side Rendering

Traditionally, most websites use Server-Side Rendering (SSR) to perform the necessary rendering on the server side to prepare the content for delivery to the user’s browser. This method is considered straightforward, but it has some significant drawbacks. For example, while it does result in fast loading times for the first meaningful paint, it requires the entire HTML content to be reloaded each time the user switches pages. This can lead to a less-than-optimal user experience, especially when the user is on a slow internet connection and experiences significant delays.

An alternative method to Server-Side Rendering (SSR) is Client-Side Rendering (CSR), used by Progressive Web Apps and Javascript-based pages. With this approach, the rendering is done directly within the client’s browser using JavaScript.

Instead of sending the whole HTML document from the server, a small piece of data in the form of a JavaScript file is sent every time the user switches a page. This JavaScript file then requests and renders only the necessary parts of the page in the client’s browser, significantly improving the speed at which the website pages load.

Isn't that fantastic? So why are many website owners still hesitant to switch to CSR (Client-Side Rendering)? This is because they are worried that the Google bot and search engine crawlers will be unable to access and view the content on their website.

As you can see, when comparing a traditional website to a Progressive Web Application (PWA) based on JavaScript, the website's content is readily visible in the code. However, in the second scenario, relying on the search engine's capability to process JabnvaScript is necessary to obtain all the relevant information one wishes for the search engines to index.

This is why a common misconception exists that search engines cannot index PWAs. However, the truth is that client-side rendered applications can indeed be crawled and indexed by search engines. Among them, Googlebot is particularly skilled in processing client-side rendered JavaScript.

Awesome, Google crawls JavaScript. Is that sufficient?

The reality is things are more intricate. Although Google has been advocating the technology and has made remarkable advancements in improving Googlebot’s ability to render JavaScript, the company admits that there are still challenges in processing JavaScript and not all search engine crawlers are able to handle it effectively or instantly.

Indeed, speed is another significant factor here.To guarantee that the JavaScript-based page is crawled correctly, an additional step is required, which is not necessary for traditional HTML content.

The process for JavaScript pages involves two stages of indexing by Google. During the first stage, a Googlebot crawls the source code of your page and indexes all the visible content, which does not include JavaScript. However, as most JavaScript websites do not have visible content in the source code, Google has nothing to index. An additional step, referred to as the Rendering Stage, is necessary to overcome this issue.

The rendering stage is when Googlebot returns to your page to analyze the JavaScript code. This allows the bot to access the actual content of the page and make it available for crawling and, ultimately, adding this content to Google's index.

This process requires extra resources from Google, so you may have to wait longer to witness your JavaScript content appearing in the search engine results pages.

This creates uncertainty for merchants, who must balance enhancing the user experience for their visitors and ensuring that search engines can do their job successfully.

Is there an alternative?

Despite the challenging task, there are several techniques you can use to maximize your website's potential without jeopardizing your SEO.

Dynamic rendering

An excellent fix for the problem is dynamic rendering.

Your web server must understand the source of a request, i.e., detect whether it comes from a real user or a search engine crawler, and serve different versions to each source to support dynamic rendering.

By doing so, you can provide a client-side version rendered for your actual visitors and, if necessary, offer the server-side version to search engine crawlers.

While Google acknowledges that Dynamic Rendering should be regarded as a temporary solution and suggests that it will improve Googlebot's indexing of JavaScript in the future, implementing Dynamic Rendering enables all website owners to offer the optimal user experience to visitors without risking the website's SEO.

Prioritize your content and combine SSR with CSR

There is an additional effective method to address the task. You can prioritize your content by identifying the crucial elements of your page that you want to transmit to search engines and offer this content via Server-Side Rendering.

By adopting this approach, you can have peace of mind knowing that search engines will quickly identify and pick up the essential details, such as canonicals and titles, as soon as they discover your page. The remaining information will then be processed through Client-Side Rendering in a subsequent phase and eventually included in the index.

What’s next?

If you feel that implementing Progressive Web Apps and setting up the technical SEO details are too complicated, don't worry. Pre-made PWA solutions have been built using the most effective SEO practices and can significantly simplify the process, saving you substantial time and resources.

These solutions are rigorously tested and supported by robust communities, so you can be confident in high-quality code and the benefits of regular updates.

If you’re considering  Progressive Web Apps, here are some helpful tips:

Conduct an SEO audit. Whether you're operating a PWA or a traditional website, an SEO audit will help you identify any SEO-related concerns and provide remedies for resolving them.

Utilize pre-made PWA solutions that comply with best SEO practices.

Involve SEO experts in your project from the start. It’s more efficient and cost-effective to prevent any potential SEO issues from the outset rather than fixing them after launch. Plan for SEO management during the launch process.

Perform regular tests. You can evaluate Progressive Web Apps using the tools you would for a traditional website. For instance, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to see how your page is being rendered.


It's clear that Progressive Web Apps will play a significant role in the future of the web. Despite offering numerous advantages and growth prospects, many merchants still hesitate to adopt PWAs due to SEO-related concerns and misconceptions.

Although search engine optimization is never straightforward, having a website based on JavaScript can present extra challenges, with content rendering being a primary concern. Fortunately, website owners and developers can leverage solutions like Dynamic Rendering to overcome these obstacles.

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