Best Practices and Debugging Tools for JavaScript SEO

When used correctly, JavaScript has a lot of advantages. Prism Digital SEO Marketing, the best SEO Company in UAE gives you information on JS SEO best practices and resources for JavaScript debugging.

JavaScript is a perfect way to make your website pages more dynamic and interesting.

However, if done incorrectly, it can be a good way to ruin a website’s SEO.

Even the best things in the world need a method of discovery, that’s a simple fact.

You’re losing out on traffic opportunities no matter how good your website is if Google can’t index it due to JavaScript issues.

You’ll learn everything you need to know about JavaScript SEO best practices, as well as the resources you can use to troubleshoot JavaScript issues, in this article from one of the SEO companies in Dubai.

Real-World Examples of Why JavaScript Is Dangerous for SEO

“Our traffic has decreased dramatically after we redesigned our website in React. “How did that happen?”

This is one of the questions we’ve read or seen on message boards.

It doesn’t matter if you use another JS application instead of React. If applied without regard for the SEO ramifications, all of them can be detrimental to a website.

Here are a few examples of how JavaScript can go awry.

Example 1: The Navigation on a Website Isn’t Crawlable

What’s wrong with this picture:

The navigation links are not compliant with web standards. As a result, Google is unable to detect or track them.

It’s wrong for the following reasons:

  • It makes finding internal pages more difficult for Google.
  • The website’s authority is not adequately distributed.
  • There is no clear indication of how the pages on the website are linked.

A website that contains links that Googlebot is unable to follow would be unable to benefit from the power of internal linking, as a result.

Example 2: After implementing a lazy load incorrectly, image search has decreased.

What’s wrong with this picture:

Though lazy loading is a great way to speed up page loading, it can also be risky if done incorrectly.

Lazy loading stopped Google from seeing the photos on the website in this case.

It’s wrong for the following reasons:

  • Google might not be able to find content that has been “hidden” by lazy loading (when implemented incorrectly).
  • The content is not ranked if it is not discovered by Google.

Image search traffic is likely to suffer significantly, as a consequence. It’s particularly important for any company that relies heavily on visual search.

Example 3: The Website was Changed to Respond Without taking SEO into Account.

Here’s what’s wrong:

This is our favorite example from a recent website audit. The owner arrived after the traffic had plummeted. It’s as though they were attempting to destroy their own website unintentionally:

  • The URLs could not be crawled.
  • The pictures could not be crawled.
  • All of the website’s pages used the same title tags.
  • The internal pages didn’t have any text content.

It’s wrong for the following reasons:

  • This page will not be ranked if Google does not see any content on it.
  • If Googlebot notices that many pages appear to be the same, it can pick one and canonicalize the others to that one.

Since the website pages seemed to Google to be identical in this case, it deduplicated them and used the homepage as the canonical edition.

Relationships Between Google and JavaScript: What You Should Know

There are a few key points to remember when it comes to Google’s treatment of your content.

Your Content Doesn’t Interact With Google

Googlebot is unable to interact with your pages in any way, including clicking buttons, expanding/collapsing text, and so on.

Without any additional interaction, Googlebot can only see the content that is accessible in rendered HTML.

Google, for example, can index an expandable text section if the text is available in the source code or rendered HTML.

Google, on the other hand, would not see content that is not originally available in the page source code or DOM and loads only after a user interacts with it (e.g., by clicking a button).

Google Doesn’t Scroll

Googlebot does not navigate a website as a normal user would; it does not click through the pages. Google can not see the content if it is “hidden” behind an infinite number of scrolls.

Google does not see content that is only rendered in a browser rather than on a server.

As a result, if you want Google to index and rate your website, client-side rendering is a poor idea (and you do want it if you need traffic and sales).

So, what about JavaScript? Is it really that bad?

Not if best practices are followed when using JavaScript on a website.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about in this section.

SEO Best Practices for JavaScript

Add Links That Comply With Web Standards

Although the term “web standards” may seem overwhelming, it simply means that you can use the HREF attribute to connect to internal pages:

Your relevant anchor text

This allows Google to quickly locate and follow the links (unless you give them a nofollow attribute, which is a different story).

If you want to add internal links to your website, don’t use the following methods:

  • location.href=‘/page-url‘
  • <a onclick=“goto(‘https://store.com/page-url’)”>
  • #page-url

By the way, if you want to direct people to a particular section of a website, you can still use the last option.

However, Google will not index all variants of your URL with a “#” appended to it.

Image use, like internal links, should adhere to web standards so that Googlebot can easily find and index photos.

A picture should be connected from the ‘src’ HTML tag to be discovered:

<img src=”image-link-here.png” />

Many JavaScript-based lazy loading libraries store the real image URL in the ‘data-src’ attribute and substitute the ‘src’ tag with a placeholder image or gif that loads quickly.

Consider the following example:

<img data-src=”image-link-here.png” class=”inline lazyloaded” src=”placeholder-imge.gif”></div>

Additional information about the image is stored in <img data-src>.

It aids in page speed optimization and performs admirably when properly implemented.

If you want Google to use the real image instead of the placeholder, change the placeholder image to the target image so that <img src> displays the target image’s route.

A live case study on how to debug issues with photos lazy-loaded using a JavaScript Library was presented during the recent Google Search Central Live event.

You can also get rid of JavaScript by using native lazy loading. Many browsers now support this feature.

Use Server-Side Rendering

If you want Google to read and rate your content, make sure it’s accessible on the server as well as in the user’s browser.

Ensure that the rendered HTML contains all of the important information you want Google to see.

You must ensure that rendered HTML displays accurate data, such as:

  • Copy on the page.
  • Images.
  • Canonical tag.
  • Title & meta description.
  • Meta robots tag.
  • Structured data.
  • hreflang.
  • Any other important tags.

Tools for Debugging JavaScript Implementation for SEO

Gone are the days where checking the source code of a website to see if it has the correct content was all that was needed.

JavaScript has complicated things by allowing you to add, delete, or modify various elements. Checking the source code isn’t enough; you still need to look at the rendered HTML.

Step 1: Examine the Extent to which a Website’s Content is Served Using JavaScript.

When I come across a website that uses JavaScript, the first thing I do is look at how heavily it relies on it. Disabling JS in your browser is the simplest way to do this.

For this, use the Web Developer Chrome plugin.

Reload the page after opening settings and clicking Disable JavaScript:

You’ll be able to see how a page will look without any JS once you’ve completed it.

You will see in the example above that there is no content available without JavaScript.

Please keep in mind that this approach just gives you a general idea of how much JavaScript affects content delivery. It doesn’t say whether or not Google will index it.

And if you see a blank page like the one above, that doesn’t mean nothing is broken. It simply indicates that a website relies heavily on JavaScript.

That’s why you should use the tools Prism Digital SEO Marketing, one of the SEO Companies in Dubai will show you in the next step to test the rendered HTML.

Step 2: Verify that Googlebot is Receiving the Appropriate Content and Tags.

Google’s Tool for Testing Mobile-Friendliness

Since you get details directly from Google, Google’s Mobile-friendly Test Tool is one of the best and most reliable resources for testing mobile-rendered HTML.

What you must do is:

  1. Use the mobile-friendly tool to get started.
  2. Make sure your URL is right.
  3. Take a look at the information in the HTML tab:

That’s where the professional SEO side of things comes in, because you’ll need to double-check the code for accuracy.

Notice that you can also perform these tests using the Rich Results Test tool:

Google Search Console’s URL Inspection Tool

The URL Inspection tool also gives you access to your page’s raw HTML, which Googlebot uses to evaluate its content:

URL Inspection Tool vs. Mobile-Friendly Test Tool

So, what’s the difference between these methods, and which one should you use?

Since the Mobile-Friendly Test and URL inspection tool both use the same core technologies, there is no difference in the output.

However, there are several distinctions in other areas:

  1. You’ll need access to the Google Search Console of the website you’re inspecting in order to use the URL Inspection Tool. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test if you don’t have such access (or Rich Results Test).
  2. The URL inspection tool will display two versions of the same page: the most recent crawled version and the live version. It’s useful if you’ve just had something disabled by JavaScript and want to compare the new and old implementations.

The performance from the Mobile-Friendly Test and the Rich Results Test is only for your current live page edition.

Other Tools for Debugging

View Rendered Source Chrome Extension

The discrepancy between the source code and the rendered HTML is shown with this extension. It shows you what JavaScript changes on the page:

Note: Make sure to compare mobile vs. desktop HTML rendering.

To do so, open the Chrome inspection tool and load a mobile view before using the View Rendered Source extension:

JavaScript Rendering Check

Since you don’t have to review the code, I believe this is the most user-friendly JS debugging method.

It compares the following key elements in the page source code to the same elements in the rendered HTML (again, make sure to review the mobile version):

The key elements on the page, such as the Title Tag, canonical, and internal links, are all changed by JavaScript in this example.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as an SEO expert, you’ll want to see if the improvements you’re looking at are harmful to the page you’re looking at.

The SEO Pro extension can also be used to display the Title tag and other relevant tags in rendered HTML rather than source code:

To investigate JavaScript SEO issues or ensure that best practices are followed, we tend to use a combination of the tools listed above.

Click Prism Digital SEO Marketing to help you with your website optimization.

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