Dynamic Rendering

The solution for Search Bots to access, crawl, and index web pages with rapidly changing content and complex javascript features 

Introducing Dynamic Rendering

Dynamic rendering is the process of serving a client-side version of your site for users and a separate, server-side version for Search Bots. On the server-side, javascript content is converted into a flat HTML version preferred by Search Bots. This allows them to fully access, crawl, and index webpage content. It’s one of the biggest changes Google has made in years. 

Dynamic rendering is one of the most important technical SEO initiatives that Google has rolled out in the last decade.

Geoff Atkinson, Founder-CEO of Huckabuy Tweet

Announcement From Google

In 2018, Google announced its support for dynamic rendering as a work-around solution for Search Bots to access, crawl, and index javascript content converted to static HTML. You can watch their presentation below:

Why It Matters For Marketers

If you have a larger website with a lot of dynamic content, dynamic rendering allows you to serve an SEO-friendly version of your site to Google’s Search Bots, so they have an improved experience and account for all of the content marketing efforts that might not have properly crawled and indexed previously.

Rendering Javascript Content

Google prefers content written in flat HTML, but they are also interested in organizing search results that reflect the internet as it is. Dynamic rendering presents an opportunity to access, crawl, and index large websites and dynamic pages that rely on frequently changing heavy javascript content.

Historically, javascript-powered websites have not fared well in search. This is attributed to the limited crawl budget of the Google Search Bot and the resource-intensive nature of rendering javascript content. When Search Bots encounter heavy javascript content, they often have to index in multiple waves of crawling. This fractured process results in missed elements, like metadata and canonical tags, that are critical for proper indexing.

Dynamic rendering is essentially a javascript SEO solution. Normally, it is difficult for search engines to process these pages. They rely on static HTML elements instead of the graphical interfaces humans take for granted. But with dynamic rendering, client-side pages are effectively translated, made fully accessible, and served to Search Bots in their preferred flat HTML format, so they can access, understand, and immediately index content to be found in search. 

 Watch Google talk about the importance of dynamic rendering for Javascript SEO:

Use Cases For Dynamic Pages

Google recommends incorporating dynamic rendering in at least three instances. First, it is recommended if you have a large site with rapidly changing content that requires quick indexing. Second, it is recommended if your website relies on modern javascript functionality. Third, it is recommended if your website relies on social media sharing and chat applications that require access to page content.

Adoption of Dynamic Rendering

We are often asked why the SEO community and marketing community at large have been slow to adopt dynamic rendering. Part of the reason is the fact that these departments do not have a general skillset that includes subsets of technical SEO, like Javascript SEO. Furthermore, they don’t always have the assistance of development team members who could help solve the issues then implement the solution. As a result, it is an initiative that tends to fall by the wayside as more resources are devoted to less-technical tactics like content creation and link building instead.

Implementation Process

Implementing dynamic rendering on your own is difficult, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. A competent and experienced team of developers is required to set up a system that checks the identity of every agent visiting the website and determining which type of content to serve. It is a cumbersome process. Fortunately, Huckabuy has a software service, the SEO Cloud, that takes care of this entire process for your business. After a brief period of working with your developer team, the implementation process is complete. Furthermore, our service preserves your preferred development operations. In fact, you can use the latest technologies like Angular and React without worrying about negative SEO impacts. 

Dynamic Rendering Is Not Cloaking

Think about cloaking like a classic “bait and switch.” A website might serve a page to the Search Bot about cats, but the user sees content that is fundamentally different – for example, content about dogs instead. Google takes issue with these types of cases and penalizes accordingly. But dynamic rendering is not cloaking. It is about giving Google similar data about a page in a format that they can crawl and index quickly, easily, and cheaply as they desire. They acknowledge and support this methodology in their documentation here.

Googlebot generally doesn’t consider dynamic rendering as cloaking. As long as your dynamic rendering produces similar content, Googlebot won’t view dynamic rendering as cloaking.

Google Documentation on Dynamic Rendering Tweet

Huckabuy’s Perspective

There’s this concept called dynamic rendering which means that sites load dynamically based on what calls them. The simple example is if I go on my mobile phone I get one experience, and if I go on my desktop I get a slightly different experience. And that’s all well and good. It’s a best practice. And now you can give a unique experience just for the Google Search Bot as well. You still need to have the same content and site. You can’t do any sort of tricks like keyword stuffing or altering the page in any way. But you can now queue up what we call “Google’s Perfect World of flat HTML, structured data markup, and fast page speed.”

Podcast Conversations On Dynamic Rendering

Geoff Atkinson recently appeared on the Search Engine Journal Show to talk about the importance of dynamic rendering and how it can be incorporated into a 2020 SEO strategy. 

Dynamic Rendering Podcast Episode

Frequently Asked Questions

Dynamic rendering means that your site will render differently depending on what calls it; users see the normal client-side version of the site while search bots see a version designed specifically for them. It’s one of the biggest changes Google has made in the past decade. 

Yes! Not only does Google approve of dynamic rendering, they strongly recommend it and even coined the term.

The websites that can benefit the most from dynamic rendering are ones that are big, with complicated Javascript and lots of pages that need to be indexed.

You can dynamically render your website through our SEO Cloud software service. We convert your complex site into flat HTML, add world-class structured data to each page, and host your pre-rendered site in a caching layer to give Google the optimal crawling experience.

It is possible, but it will cost more and quality will likely suffer. This is the type of service that is better to outsource than to train for and risk being done at a lower quality. First, you have to have at least one capable developer that can alter your tech stack and wire together some form of rendering service. So, time and maintenance are going to cost you some amount. Second, if you do it wrong or Google changes things and your development team is slow to make an adjustment, your website suffers the consequences. On your own, you are completely in charge of how the most important visitor, the Google Search Bot, engages with your website. If you decide to dedicate one or two engineers from your development team to this process, it is imperative they are experts. 

No! It has no effect on users.

Yes. Only your publicly indexable content is exposed for Search Bots. Dynamic rendering also doesn’t interact with cookies or authenticated URLs.

Dynamic rendering is a technical issue, and a lot of SEO organizations aren’t focused on technical SEO initiatives, or don’t have developers working on their teams. 

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