Published on April 12, 2023

JavaScript SEO for Bing and Other Search Engines

JavaScript SEO for Bing and Other Search Engines

Over the past few years, many internet users have been turning away from Google and exploring alternative options. While Google has long been the go-to destination for online searches, concerns over, for example, privacy, have led many users to seek out other search engines.

According to TechGuard, “Google processes over 40,000 searches every second on average (translating into 3.5 billion per day). All of these searches are collected and stored by Google. That’s data from Gmail, Google Maps, web searches, Google Smart devices, and more.

Statistics like this (and the overall worry about biased results, ethics, and competition) have raised the popularity of privacy-focused platforms like DuckDuckGo and eco-conscious option, Ecosia.

Fortunately, optimizing your site according to Google’s guidelines can help your site rank on other search engines. (After all, good content is always good no matter where you consume it.)

… however, the same can’t be said about JavaScript optimization.

The major challenge for single-page applications (SPAs) and JS-based websites isn’t optimizing their JS code but the support available from search engines. So, in this article, we’ll explore the state of JavaScript SEO across the most popular search engines and help you get ahead of search.

The State of Search Engines and JavaScript Rendering

It seems like every week a new search engine appears on the horizon, trying to get its share of the market. Of course, we can’t possibly explore each and every one there is, so we’ll focus on the most popular search engines available to learn whether or not they can handle JavaScript rendering – in other words, if they can access AJAX and single-page applications content. We will also discuss what the best approach is to make your site indexable across the board and future-proof your organic traffic.

Bing

Microsoft’s search engine Bing has been behind the curve for a long time. However, everything changed when they announced Bing Chat – their integration with Chat GPT. 

Just recently, Bing officially hit the 100 million daily active users mark, setting a new record for the search engine and making the internet speculate if AI is the future of online search.

Either way, with that many active users, Bing promises to be an additional source of organic traffic for businesses willing to do the extra work and optimize for its algorithm.

That being said, what does it mean for SPAs and JS-based websites?

Well, if we take a closer look at Bing’s documentation, we can find the answer in two parts:

  1. Bing uses a similar rendering engine to Google’s, which means it can somewhat handle JavaScript
  2. Bing recommends using dynamic rendering in their webmasters’ guidelines as “there are limitations to processing JavaScript at scale”

Although they focus mainly on large sites – for which crawl budget would deplete too fast, creating many rendering issues –the same can be said for SPAs that rely on JavaScript to deliver their content.

Ecosia

When it comes to ethical and eco-friendly search engines, Ecosia is the number one name thrown around. This search engine states that “80% of its advertising profits are used to plant trees.”

For eco-conscious internet users, it means that using the search engine on its own can help improve the environment while doing the same thing they do most days: look for information online.

Thanks to its efforts and transparency (which includes a monthly report), the search engine has gained a lot of popularity.

Regarding JavaScript SEO, Ecosia won’t represent a problem because it doesn’t have its own index. Instead, it has partnered with Bing, which provides search results and advertisement for the platform, and shares a percentage of the revenue with them.

So, if you want to appear on Ecosia search results, dynamic rendering and optimizing for Bing is the way to go!

You.com

Before Bing, You.com was already making a case for the use of AI in search by using AI to “summarize the web” and provide a unique, more personalized, and private search experience.

In this case, You.com uses its own crawler (named YouBot) to collect information from across the web and then create its search engine results pages (SERPs) based on your interests and preferences.

Unlike other search engines, You.com uses a vote and source system, where users can decide what information they like the most – teaching the AI what information to favor – and establishing what sources they prefer and which they don’t.

This provides a curated SERP that’s unique for each person but without having to collect massive amounts of data.

That said, we couldn’t find any information about how YouBot handles JavaScript or any webmaster guidelines – which we guess is by design.

However, something that is clear is that they are using Bing to power part of their search results, as shown at the end of their SERPs:

A confirmation on how You.com uses Bling to power search results.

Also, they don’t provide any kind of search console or webmaster tools, so our best bet is that ranking in Bing is critical for ranking – at least on pre-filtered search results – in You.com.

For SPAs and enterprise JS sites, this means using dynamic rendering to ensure proper indexing and following Bing’s webmaster guidelines to ensure high rankings.

DuckDuckGo

When talking about privacy, DuckDuckGo (DDG) is the first search engine to come to mind, as it was designed as a privacy-focused alternative to Google.

Unlike traditional search engines, it uses its own crawler (DuckDuckBot) and over 200 different sources to create an ecosystem of quick answers pulled from specialized sites and regular blue links.

Again, there’s no information on whether or not DDBot can render JavaScript, but when reading DDG’s documentation on its sources, we found this: “Of course, we have more traditional links and images in our search results too, which we largely source from Bing.”

This makes dynamic rendering a best practice for any website interested in getting its pages indexed and ranked in DDG’s SERPs.

Yahoo

As of 2023, Yahoo is the 3rd most popular search engine out there, with a 1.12% market share – according to StatCounter.

Yahoo search engine growth

Although it doesn’t seem like much, it still is an alternative source of organic traffic worth mentioning. (Especially for pages providing financial data and news.)

Yahoo has its own crawler named Slurb, but a big part of its search results are powered by, you guessed it, Bing.

In its documentation, Yahoo states that: “Content that’s available only through JavaScript should be presented to non-JavaScript user agents and crawlers with noscript HTML elements.”

The nonscript tag is an HTML tag used to deliver content for browsers that don’t support JavaScript or for users that have disabled scripts.

However, this is an old strategy that is no longer necessary, and if you plan to use this to deliver content to crawlers, you would be better off using a more modern technique like static rendering.

Still, as we analyzed in our tech comparison, static rendering is only a good strategy for small websites with rarely updated pages.

For websites looking to scale to the 10k+ URLs, dynamic rendering will provide the most benefits and allow a more flexible workflow, as you don’t have to fully predict every possible URL or worry about changes not getting picked up by search engines.

Resource: Learn how Prerender’s dynamic rendering works

Yandex

Although Yandex is a Russia-focused search engine, optimizing for Yandex is a priority for those companies looking to enter the Russian market, so we decided to add it to this list.

The good news is that Yandex is very straightforward in their documentation about handling JavaScript: “The Yandex robot can index an AJAX site if each page of the site has an HTML version.”

Like in Yahoo’s case, they recommend creating an HTML version of your dynamic pages to allow their bot to crawl and index your site.

The problem with this approach is that it’s an unsustainable process for large sites that requires months of work and a significant upfront investment. On the other hand, it is unviable for highly dynamic pages, as it would require a level of rigidness most SPAs are not built for.

Baidu

Baidu is China’s response to Google. Being the most popular search engine in China, optimizing your sites for Baidu is critical for any company that wants to grow organically in the Chinese market.

Unlike most Bing-powered search engines, Baidu takes a more Google-like approach and has completely independent crawlers to grow its index. That implies there are no workarounds to get your pages indexed through other search engines’ results.

In the case of JavaScript, it doesn’t count with any kind of renderer to handle JavaScript, so you’ll need to either turn your page into static HTML or implement a solution like dynamic rendering, server-side rendering, or static rendering.

Make Your Site Indexable Anywhere with Dynamic Rendering

Most modern websites are powered by JavaScript, allowing developers and businesses to provide a unique, emerging experience that would be impossible to replicate with plain HTML and CSS. Nevertheless, it creates a level of complexity that search engines are not equipped to handle just yet.

Although it would seem like the only two alternatives are:

  • Translating everything to plain HTML and losing all the interactivity and engagement JS features provide, or
  • Implement expensive workarounds that still don’t bring the full SEO benefit you’re looking for

Bing and Google have always recommended dynamic rendering as the simplest and best option.

Prerender is a plug-and-play solution that provides a fully rendered and functional version of your pages to search engines, taking care of the entire rendering process and solving the JavaScript dilemma once and for all.

Installing Prerender just takes a couple of hours, and you’ll experience all its benefits after just a week of installation.

The best part is that you’re free to provide the best experience to your customers without sacrificing organic performance. No matter what search engine they use, you’ll always be there, ready to respond to their queries.

If you’re ready to try it, you can subscribe to Prerender for free and start experiencing bigger crawl budgets and high indexing times.

Leo Rodriguez

Leo Rodriguez

Leo is a technical content writer based in Italy with over 4 years of experience in technical SEO. He’s currently working at saas.group as a content marketing manager. Contact him on LinkedIn.

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