Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and SEO!

Progressive Web Apps have been getting attention over the past 5 years as an alternative to mobile apps and an upgrade to simple websites.

Progressive Web Apps

So how to PWAs affect your SEO?

In this article, we will take a look at the how progressive web apps can affect your SEO.

SEO? What was that?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a set of techniques and tools to optimize websites for organic search or SERPS.

The goal is to rank higher on search engines to earn more free traffic. SEO is an art, mixed with technical quality. Your site needs relevant content, solid on page or technical configurations and of course links from other sites.

The right keywords paired with good content and customers will find you before your competition.

Progressive Web Applications are websites that leverage modern APIs and user experience to provide an app-like experience. It is this enhanced UX that affects your ability to rank.

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## Business Advantages of PWA

Progressive Web Apps use the latest features that support modern browsers. This includes iPhones, Androids, Windows PCs and any other device and operating system.

The web has added many new features over the past decade, so many that there is little difference between a native app and a PWA.

This includes cool things like working offline, native push notifications, gyroscope, Bluetooth, real-time video and audio and so much more.

PWAs can work when the internet connection is bad and even offline. This can help the business not lose conversions. The user can put goods into the basket, browsing the site without an internet connection, and place an order when the connection appears.

Thanks to the cross-platform technology, you can develop one application, which will work on any device of any operating system. The same thing works for updates.

## Progressive Web App Requirements

There are three core requirements for a site to classify as a PWA:

  • Use HTTPS
  • Have a valid web manifest file and minimal set of home screen and desktop icons
  • Register a service worker can provide an HTTP response of 200 when offline

Beyond those there are user experience expectations. Your pages should load fast, instantly really. The site should be mobile-first. This means it has a good layout on mobile devices and uses responsive design to match growing screen sizes.

The good news is these are things search engines look for when ranking web pages.

Search engines reward websites that provide good user experiences. Progressive web apps are good user experiences by definition, if you create them right.

Google, Bing and other search engines publish information about how to help your website rank. You can use these recommendations as a set of editorial guidelines. And like I said, they overlap with PWA requirements!

Upgrading your website to a PWA will not have any negative effect on your SEO. That's because they have the same goals in mind.

But beware, there are many out there that confuse progressive web apps with single page applications or SPA. While a SPA can be a progressive web app, they are different paradigms.

SPAs means all the code for the entire site is loaded when you visit any page. Navigation is done without going back to the server. The real problem with SPAs today is the use of heavy frameworks. Most simple SPAs require 10MB or more of JavaScript. This creates a very slow page load experience.

While search engines can index SPAs, they general don't due to the excess overhead required to render the pages.

You are better suited to use a static website when targeting organic rankings. Think about it the content on your pages does not change often. So render it when you create or update the content, not each time the user requests the URL.

This also means the search bots will be able to gobble up the content without any excess effort. Make it easy on the user to access your content and search engines like you more.


## Long-Term Relationships

When someone loads a page on your PWA you can use the service worker to cache core assets and content on the device. This means your application is installed locally. From there you can push the consumer to add your PWA to their home screen or start menu.

Once your PWA is on the home screen of your customer’s smartphone, you can continue to build your relationship. This is a clear signal the user wants to engage more. Hopefully you can convert them to a content subscriber. You can encourage them to engage via email, SMS or push notifications.

While this is not a direct SEO signal it helps. Search engines are aware of traffic to pages, even when it originates outside of search results. Repeat visitors is a god signal to search engines to rank your page over the competition.

So PWAs are designed to earn a long-term relationship with visitors. This long-term relationship will improve your overall rankings.

## What Can You Do?

Audit your website. If you have not upgraded to HTTPS you should do that right now. Most hosting services offer free TLS certificates, so there is no reason to avoid this any longer.

Next, visit PWAStarter to get a web manifest file, home screen icons and a skeleton service worker. From there you can add the files to your website as a solid starting point for your progressive web app journey.

Next, make sure you have a good mobile experience and page speed score. Your pages should be fully rendered in about 1 second on desktop and no more than 3 on a Smart Phone.

PWA technology cannot improve your content. But it will help you improve the behind the scenes features search engines look for to set web pages apart for search engine rankings.

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