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SEO View on Progressive Web Apps, Single-Page Applications & JavaScript

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For any business to continue to be successful and find new customers, it’s important to rank well in the search engines. Search engine optimisation continues to play an important role in making sure that you rank on the first page of Google. However, with changes to internet technology and the way users use the internet, it can be a challenge to know how these technologies influence SEO.

One of the latest trends is the push towards using Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Progressive web apps use a combination of HTML and JavaScript to create web pages that act like an app. This allows users to enjoy a more personalised experience while using the internet. PWAs are also much more cost-effective to build than stand-alone mobile apps.

Before we look at how progressive apps can affect SEO, let’s look at what progressive apps are and the benefits of using them.

Progressive web apps

The advantage of using Progressive Web Apps is that it brings a mobile app experience to the user’s browser. This eliminates the need to build specific apps for specific mobile platforms and devices. The PWA is able to send push notifications which boost user engagement, use geolocation functionality, and allow access to device’s camera and microphone.

One of the biggest benefits to using Progressive Web Apps is that they can be used whether the user is online or offline. This results in lower data usage and they work just as well if there is poor network coverage.

Single page applications and SEO

Is essence then a Progressive Web App is a single page application. However, it is important to differentiate between a true single page application and a single page template.

Both single page templates and single page applications have become very popular. Single page templates are now becoming the standard for many Wordpress sites or other web pages that are built on a CMS. However, they remain and function just as any other website. Also, a single page application is not an infinitely scrolling website.

Single-page web apps use JavaScript to process the information and content from the server and to connect to user’s computers. However, just because the framework is based on JavaScript doesn’t mean that it is bad for SEO. Remember, that Google is behind the push towards single-page apps and PWAs. They wouldn’t be behind this trend if Personal Web Apps were damaging to SEO. However, as with any website, single page applications must be optimised properly for SEO.

SEO and JavaScript

How do JavaScript applications impact on SEO? With respect to JavaScript and indexing the content within it, Google has made great strides in how its indexing algorithms see sites. Reports suggest that Google can ‘see’ the redirects, meta data, title tags, canonical tags, and dynamically inserted content in JavaScript.

Although the way Google indexes sites isn’t perfect, we can be sure that it will continue to improve.

Best SEO practices for personal web apps

However, there are a few things that you should definitely avoid doing to make sure that your PWA is indexed properly by Google.

Avoid hashtags in URLs

Google can’t handle JavaScript with hashtags in the URL. So, make sure that all URLs are hard URLs without the ‘#’ symbol. Although this can be a challenge for some websites, it is the only way currently for Google to properly index a site running JavaScript.

Enable Googlebot

It’s important that Googlebot can crawl your site and index JavaScript pages properly. So, you need to make sure that pages don’t redirect to unsupported browser pages. You should also avoid the AJAX-Crawling scheme if you are setting up a new site.

To make sure that Googlebot can crawl your site properly, you need to use Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render tool. This will allow you to see how Google views your single-page application and then make the necessary adjustments.


Another important factor to make sure that SEO benefits your PWA is to use an accurate sitemap. This is needed when using Accelerated Mobile Pages and helps Google keep track of any changes on your site.

In conclusion

Although Progressive Web Apps have some limitations, they represent the next step forward to enhance user experience. As with all SEO, you need to make sure and build a robust SEO strategy to boost your website’s online presence – whether this is a regular web page optimised for mobile devices or a Progressive Web App.


Thumbnail photo of Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has been a Forensic SEO Consultant for more than four years.

She works across all areas of the business with a special flair for forensic technical analysis, Google Analytics and link-based penalties.

She loves good food, holidays, watching the latest zombie slasher flick, and spinning the decks as an amateur DJ – she says “it’s just a matter of time before I get to host my first post-apocalyptic zombie rave”.


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