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A Guide to Server-Side Rendering

Server-side rendering takes the pressure off the browser, meaning pages can load quicker, resulting in a better user experience.
Server-side rendering

Server-side rendering (SSR) is the capability of an application to render or load the web page through the server instead of generating it through a browser.

The Benefits of Using Server-Side Rendering

Client-side rendering (or rendering on the browser) can be slower to load with heavy JavaScript-based resources.

 

Whereas SSR takes the pressure off the browser, meaning pages can load quicker, resulting in a better user experience. With JS content, server-side rendering is essential to ensure pages are properly indexed.

The Pitfalls of Using Server-Side Rendering

Although server-side rendering is a superior strategy with many benefits, it also has some drawbacks:

  • Server-side rendering is not a straightforward concept; its cost grows simultaneously with the application’s complexity and website size.
  • Rendering a comprehensive server application can raise overall loading times if not managed and maintained appropriately.

Steps to Add Server-Side Rendering

Server-side processing involves the following steps:

  • Client HTTP request – When a user has entered the URL into their browser’s address bar, it creates an HTTP connection to the web server and sends the server a request for the HTML document.
  • Data retrieval – The server retrieves necessary data from the database or third-party services. Pre-rendering on the server transforms the JavaScript elements into static HTML.
  • HTTP response from the server – The server then sends this HTML file to the client.
  • Page loading and rendering – The browser downloads the HTML file and shows the page’s static elements.
  • Replenishment – occurs when the client gets the JavaScript file(s) encoded in the HTML, processes the code, and adds event handlers to the components. This is also known as hydration or replenishment.

Frameworks and Tools for Server-Side Rendering

Server-side rendering frameworks aid in generating a web page on a server. The difference is that a browser or a JavaScript tool performs client-side rendering, whereas the server performs server-side rendering.

 

There are various frameworks accessible today, but the following are some of the most popular:

 

Vue.js is an open-source JavaScript platform for creating user interfaces that can be combined with other systems to provide a complete stack solution for developing web-based applications.

 

React.js is a JavaScript library that allows you to create repeatable UI components and easily combine them with Flux or Redux to develop large, scalable apps using functional programming ideas.

 

Ember.js – is a complete system for developing JavaScript web applications that prioritise patterns over configuration and offers essential solutions to common issues like tracking and formatting.

 

Angular – Angular Universal is a server-side rendering application popular with large-scale websites.

 

Server-side processing requires backend JavaScript frameworks built on Node.js, including Express.js or Hapi. These backend frameworks handle network queries, render server components, and send pre-rendered HTML to the search engine. They are compatible with any front-end JavaScript system.

When Should I Use Server Side Rendering (SSR)?

SSR is generally recommended for heavy JavaScript-based websites because they take the burden of loading the content away from the client and means that content is usually loaded much more efficiently; since site speed is a known ranking factor, this can improve your site’s crawling and overall SERP performance.

 

It also allows search engines to see what content is accessible on each page, aiding in content discovery and engagement metrics such as time on site. SSR can also be helpful if you have sites with dynamic content prone to changing frequently.

 

If you think SSR could benefit your website, please speak to your development team and an experienced SEO professional before taking any action. They will help determine if it is the best course of action and can ensure it is implemented correctly.

Picture of Nikki Halliwell

Nikki Halliwell

Based in Manchester, UK, Nikki is a freelance Technical SEO Consultant. She has worked at several agencies and in-house and has worked across the health, hospitality and fashion industries and more. Nikki enjoys working with eCommerce websites and beyond to ensure that websites are easy to find, load quickly and work efficiently. 
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