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 for search engines and help you get ahead of Search.

The State of JavaScript SEO for Search Engines 

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:

    • Bing uses a similar rendering engine to Google’s, which means it can somewhat handle JavaScript
    • 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 the 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.

    While Bing can understand JavaScript to some extent, it faces challenges processing complex websites that rely heavily on JavaScript. This is because Bing needs to balance two goals:

      • Efficient Crawling: Bing crawls a massive number of webpages and fully processing JavaScript on every page would be resource-intensive.
      • Indexing All Content: Bing wants to index all the content on a webpage, including content generated by JavaScript.

      To address this, Bing recommends a technique called Dynamic Rendering. This allows websites to deliver different versions of their content depending on the user agent accessing the site. For regular users, the website displays the fully interactive, JavaScript-powered version

      More Reading: Why you should consider Dynamic Rendering

      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.

      Challenges with Ecosia and JavaScript SEO

        • Powered by Bing: Ecosia doesn’t have its own search engine crawler or indexing system. Instead, it relies on Bing’s results and advertising infrastructure. This means the challenges you face with JavaScript SEO on Ecosia are essentially the same as those on Bing.

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

        Resource: How Prerender Compares to Other Rendering Solutions.

        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 favour – 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.

        Possible challenges with You.com and JavaScript SEO:

          • YouBot might not fully render JavaScript: If YouBot prioritizes speed and efficiency, it might not fully execute JavaScript on a webpage, potentially missing content generated by JavaScript.
          • Difficulties with Single-Page Applications (SPAs): Websites built as SPAs heavily rely on JavaScript to deliver content. YouBot might have difficulty understanding the structure and content of such websites.

          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.

          Potential challenges with JavaScript SEO on DuckDuckGo:

            • Incomplete Indexing: If DDGbot doesn’t fully render JavaScript, content generated by JavaScript might not be indexed by DDG, potentially impacting your website’s visibility in DDG search results.
            • Difficulties with SPAs: Similar to You.com, DDGbot might struggle with Single-Page Applications (SPAs) that rely heavily on JavaScript for content delivery.

            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.

            Yahoo utilizes Bing’s search results for the most part, so JavaScript SEO challenges on Yahoo are likely to be similar to those faced by Bing. However, there might be some nuances to consider:

              • Limited control over Bing’s rendering: Since Yahoo relies on Bing’s results, you have less direct control over how Yahoo handles your website’s JavaScript rendering compared to optimizing for Yahoo itself.
              • Potential for ranking discrepancies: In some cases, there might be discrepancies between how Bing and Google render and rank your website, impacting your visibility on Yahoo as well (since it uses Bing’s results)

              For websites looking to scale to 10,000+ 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 its documentation about handling JavaScript: “The Yandex robot can index an AJAX site if each page of the site has an HTML version.”

              As 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.

              Challenges to Consider:

                • Potential for Incomplete Indexing: While Yandex is improving its JavaScript handling, there’s still a chance that complex or heavily reliant JavaScript content might not be fully indexed. This could affect your website’s visibility in Yandex search results.
                • Limited Information: Compared to Google’s detailed webmaster guidelines, Yandex offers less specific information on how it handles JavaScript-heavy websites. This can make it trickier to optimize your website specifically for Yandex.

                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.

                Challenges for JavaScript-heavy Websites:

                  • Incomplete Indexing: Baidu might not fully crawl and index the content generated by JavaScript, significantly impacting your website’s visibility in search results.
                  • Inaccurate Rendering: There’s a risk of Baidu misinterpreting the content or structure of your website if it relies heavily on JavaScript 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

                  Conclusion

                  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.

                  Picture of 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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