Progressive Web Apps: All you need to know

With the extensive increase in mobile usage¸ mobile web development companies are creating websites that ensure an optimal user experience. Mobile web developers as well are working harder by the day to make mobile web as convenient, useful and efficient as possible.

Staying a step ahead of the others, the developers at Google created Progressive Web Apps, a new software development methodology to create an interactive experience with features of both web and mobile apps.





Alex Russel

Progressive Web Apps chiefly deliver a reliable performance, creating an app-like user experience on the users’ mobile browser. The User Interaction with the web pages on the mobile web page is such that it has the look-n-feel and the functionality of a mobile app. Be it offline access, push notifications, creating home screen short cuts without an app store download, all these are some of the basic features that work on both mobile web and mobile apps. Progressive Web Apps work on most mobile web browsers.
Whenever a new technology makes its way in, any form of technical limitations can impact the performance of SEO for that website. And it does so, even for PWAs.

Here’s how they work and what their impact on SEO is:


How Progressive Web Apps Work: 


Designed carefully with much faster load times, Progressive Web Apps bypass multiple steps that users otherwise follow to access certain information or features on a website directly. With a built-in intelligence feature, they capture user preference and behavior to deliver an experience that is totally personalized. The most convenient feature about Progressive Web Apps is that a user doesn’t need to download or install them. They can directly be accessed in the mobile browser, helping users build a relationship; given the interaction involved. They often store their data, in return to which, the app sends push notifications for re-engagement.
When published online, a PWA can easily be deployed to an HTTPS supporting host. Also, the apps can be used both online and offline, making use of the data that was cached previously.
In most instances, a website’s mobile version in itself becomes a PWA, allowing for a condensed user experience. Multiple features also become accessible with a screen swipe, tap or mouse click.



Benefits of Progressive Web App

When you compare a traditional mobile-friendly site to a Progressive Web App, PWAs hold several benefits over them. These include:

  • Lesser data usage, pivotal for users with limited or slow internet access
  • Easier navigation, along with an exceedingly responsive layout
  • Access to all types of hardware- like geolocation, screen orientation access and more.
  • Outreach with push notifications for quick updates , faster than email updates
  • All internet users can access, given the elimination of the download process altogether
  • Offline Functionality- The web app keeps running in the background and assess the user behavior without any direct interaction with the app.

Google Crawler and Progressive Web Apps

Googlebot crawls a PWA looking at a single page as a JavaScript site. For a Progressive Web App, you may create a fresh URL. This way Googlebot actively crawls the PWA as a single published page, just like it crawls a JavaScript or AJAX site. However, there are certain constraints that have potential to impact the crawl, like these. Developers must therefore be fully aware of optimizing the site and must as well ensure that the page is appropriately indexed.

SEO Recommendations by Google

In March 2016, Google’s John Mueller provided a detailed report on how Google treats JavaScript Sites and PWA’s in general.

The major recommendations made included:
• Avoiding AJAX-Crawling scheme on new websites
• Using rel=canonical when content is served from not one, but many URLs to prevent content duplication violation
• Refrain from redirecting to a browser page that is unsupported
• Limiting the resources embedded, particularly the JavaScript files; monitor and limit the number of server responses that are required for page rendering as well. These may not load fully.
• Avoid cloaking Googlebot; use techniques to make content accessible to all users with feature detection and progressive enhancement.
• Ascertain that the resources required aren’t blocked using robots.txt
• Use Google’s Fetch and Render Tool to test how Googlebot exactly sees the page.
• The URL’s with“#” in them are not indexed by Googlebot. Rather implement a URL structure with the traditional SEO rules, being a vital step to move forward.
• If you’re using Accelerated Mobile Pages, make sure you use an accurate sitemap file to signal any and every change on the website.
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To provide the users with an experience of novel online interactivity Progressive Web Apps are the latest “in-thing”! The companies that indulge in developing interfaces like these must make themselves fully aware of the indexing limitations that come with it. The focus must also not deviate from the appropriate coding. PWAs easily complement existing websites but as an individual entity may not carry as much weight.

The SEO consideration is purely subjective to the companies independently, to decide the development of an online presence using existing practices, so the prospective users are able to locate their brand easily.


A features comparison between Websites, Progressive Web Apps and Mobile Apps


Thereon, leave it to the users to decide if they want to make the switch to PWAs or continue with the traditional desktop/mobile versions of the web.


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