Building Indexable Progressive Web Apps

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What are Progressive Web Apps and why should we use them?

Progressive Web Apps bring the advantages of both mobile apps and websites together. They combine all the best elements that native apps have to offer and showcase them in browsers. This, in turn, provides an interactive experience to the users.

With features ranging from push notifications to a responsive layout, PWAs have gone all out in gaining the optimal user experience.

Also, PWAs don’t actually require any installation and work on browsers, therefore eliminating a lot of steps that users had to follow while downloading a mobile app. These web apps let the users have access to the functionality of a mobile app on a website but have enhanced features that make it far better than the traditional websites.

The technology of PWA is a considerably new one and raises the question of how it can be both indexable and linkable on Google. In this blog, you’ll find some of the benefits that PWAs possess and the checklist provided by Google that should be followed to make them indexable.

Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

The benefits that progressive web apps provide are for all the ends. For the users, for the web app developers, and for the businesses as well.
Since this is a new app type, the users would be more engaged towards the business. PWAs provide the best of both the worlds and this is established! Hence we know that the performance would be better, giving the business an added benefit.

For web developers, this would be a welcome change. Web apps bring out more innovation and creativity to the developers. However, this does not mean that they need to have exceptionally specialized skills. Although, these apps give the user to access them even without any internet, and without any installation.

This would be something that the top web app developers would need to work on. For the final leg, that is the users, given there is so much of competition in this spectrum, and every business is trying to get on top of each other. That gives leverage to the final consumers who can access the best use.

The enhanced and improved performance, the complete app like structure without having to install anything are just some of the benefits that users are getting!

Practices to follow while Building PWAs:

1. Crawlable Content-

  • Amongst the many choices, always prefer to use Server-side or hybrid rendering for your web app. The benefit that the users would generate is that all the content that they requested would be received in the initial payload.
  • Also, make sure that your URL can be accessed independently.

2. Clear URL’s should be Provided-

  • Even though fragment identifiers (#) work well with web browsers, they are not so compatible with some web tools. That is why the used URL of the progressive web app is ignored.
  • An example of the URL that you can provide: https://www.xyz.com/service/18/

3. Canonical URL’s should be Specified-

  • When the same kind of content is found in various URL’s, there is a confusion created in indexing. To eliminate that confusion, one page should be pointed as a Canonical. All the others can use that as a reference.
  • Example: <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/your-url/”/>
  • Also, web developer should keep it in mind to not create any canonical references that will cause any conflicts.

4. Develop the App Iteratively-

  • When you add features to your web app step by step, you can notice the change caused by every additional feature individually. Hence, you should make the changes to your web app iteratively, even if that means your development process gets slower.
  • For instance, if by now you do not support HTTPS, then its time that you can start by migrating to a secure site.

5. Use Progressive Enhancement-

  • Initially, just to check which browser the user had, the features were enabled or disabled accordingly. However, that practice is gradually disappearing.
  • It is always better to detect the features of a progressive web app rather than testing for browsers that you think to support that particular feature.
  • An example of when to use Progressive Enhancement is Service Worker, which is a considerably new technology.

6. Testing with Search Console-

  • How Google views your content is very important. You can find out how your content is viewed on Google Search using Search Console. Moreover, the search console also analyses your page’s content in various ways.
  • Features such as; Fetch as Google; can be used to monitor how the site’s content is displayed.

7. Annotate with Schema.org Structured Data-

  • With the help of schema.org, you can sum up all the important parts of your page. Based on the context, the summarised form can either be generalized or specific.
  • Using schema.org for every page is not required, so only use it for the pages where you feel it is necessary.
  • For instance, the data can be a news article, or as specific as location-based.

8. Annotate with Open Graph and Twitter Cards-

  • The main help that these formats provide is that when you share your content on social networking sites, they help you in generating a better user experience.
  • For example, you can test your Open Graph markup with the Facebook debugger tool.

9. Test with Multiple browsers & Design for Multiple Browsers-

  • Make sure to keep your progressive web app versatile. Every phone, tablet or desktop will have a different screen resolution. The app should be dynamic and the user interface should be friendly for all those devices so that every user can have a good experience.
  • You can not know the preference of every user. But this is very natural that the user would want a progressive web app to work the same either on Android or Apple.
  • This is why as a web app developer, you should use cross testing tools like BrowserStack.com or Browserling.com.

Conclusion

There are pros and cons of using any platform, be it the native apps, or be it the progressive web apps. As a developer, you need to keep the indexability in mind while creating a progressive web app. Keeping the above points in mind will help you build a considerably good web app!

Hemendra Singh
Mr. Hemendra Singh, Managing Director, also the co-founder of The NineHertz is a visionary leader who oversees the corporate direction and successful growth of the Company and its employees, alike. With a career spanning nearly 10 years and a degree in Information Technology, Hemendra is the epitome of the new-age entrepreneurship in the emerging Digital India, who has catapulted The NineHertz to be counted among one of the foremost IT Companies in India.