Does Google prefer Client-side or Server-side rendering for SEO

Should I use Client-side or Server-side rendering for SEO? Will Googlebot be able to crawl and index my pages if I use Client-side rendering (CSR)? There are a lot of questions and doubts raised when it comes to choosing between client-side and server-side rendering from an SEO standpoint. 

Google has said in the past that they are able to crawl and index pages that use client-side rendering. But it needs to be implemented in a particular way so that the crawler can read the links and content on the pages. You can read Google’s documentation on this here.

However, which type of rendering does Google prefer? John Mueller, the Search Advocate at Google, has given is a hint on whether Google prefers client-side or server-side rendering (SSR). 

How to check if CSR is causing problems for SEO

In one of the recent “English Google SEO office-hours” sessions on YouTube, a user asked John Mueller whether Google can crawl and index a client-side rendered website. He explained that he was facing issues with Google not crawling and indexing the pages as intended. He also mentioned that the content on the page was not shown on the rendered version of the page by Google.

Google’s John Mueller offered some advice on how you can test if your client-side rendering implementation is causing issues for SEO.

“What I would do is, first of all, maybe look up the JavaScript-based website’s documentation we have on Search Central in the documentation site. There are some tips there for what you need to do and what you should avoid.

…And then what I would also do is try to find a sample of the pages that are not being indexed and run them through the testing tools. Ideally, find different templates that are not being indexed.

So if you have things like product detail pages and category pages and you’re seeing the category pages are not being indexed.

So well, then I would take a sample of the category pages and really test them with the testing tools to see is there something small that I can do to improve the indexability of my website or not”, said John Mueller.

SSR has a slight advantage over CSR?

What is interesting is what followed after this. John Mueller expressed his point of view on whether it is worth taking the trouble to test out different implementations to make client-side rendering work for SEO. 

Here’s John Mueller’s advice on whether to go with client-side or server-side rendering:

“It’s something where you could also look at the server-side rendering and say, well, maybe I can kind of skip all of these extra tests and just go directly to pure HTML and send that to Google with server-side rendering.

From my point of view, I would, for the most part, try to avoid a situation where you’re just setting up a lot of infrastructure just for Google. And instead, if you’re going to move to server-side rendering, do it in a way that makes sense for your users as well because sometimes you will see also a significant speed improvement by going to server-side rendering. And if you can use that speed improvement and say, well, also Google will have an improvement, then that seems to me like a really good scenario.”

Server-side rendering is a win-win situation for both users and Google. This is because SSR, if implemented correctly, can greatly improve the performance of your website. You are also relieved of the burden of making special infrastructure changes for Google to understand your page correctly. 

You can find the entire conversation here:

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