We consider this rendertron and prerender io review ongoing. After all they are both constantly making updates to their middleware. If you have any comments feel free to email us or comment below.
You’ll also notice we/I use the words “we” & “I” interchangeably – this is because I’m a snob :-p
In this breakdown of Rendertron and prerender io we will discuss the advantages of both, as our clients use one or the other, we have also run individual SEO tests for both.
The problem these two middlewares are trying to solve is huge and truly awesome. However, they both are not without issues, which we will dive into later.
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TL;DR: Prerender io & Rendertron Quick Overview
SEO, in our option, is a test based marketing approach. It’s pretty unlikely you’ll get it right the first time, especially when creating custom technology.
Don’t expect your traffic to explode after installing either one of these two middlewares. Rather, consider it a step in the right direction.
Pros for the Search Engines:
- Has humans you can ask questions to.
- Fairly clear documentation.
- Currently our preferred choice.
- You gotta pay, at least for large scale applications with quite a few visitors. However for smaller web apps they have free usage.
Pros for the Search Engines:
- Open source
- Google claims its the best thing since sliced bread
- We didn’t care for the documentation.
Rendertron & Prerender io – How it Works
A pretty common question about prerender io and Rendertron, these two pieces of middleware is ‘how does it work’?
Really simply, when Googlebot (or whichever Search Engine you prefer) visits your website it crawls your website.
This is a pretty common navigation issue, you’ll notice when we scroll over one of the menu item it gives a pretty nice list of items and links a search engine can crawl:
However when we change the useragent and load the page as Googlebot, you’ll notice all these links disappear:
If you are actively trying to rank the inner pages on this menu, this is a terrible mistake for Search Engine Optimization.
Effectively, you are creating extra steps and Google or other search engines may have trouble ‘seeing’ or crawling the inner pages.
If Googlebot cannot crawl the inner pages, you’ll have a much harder time ranking them.
Server-Side Rendering: Why is it better for Search Engine Optimization
This is largely my opinion, but I find it just causes a lot less issues to focus on programming languages that do no have rendering issues in the first place.
Frankly, I do not believe rendertron, prerender io, or any individual software is to blame, rather its the implementation and nature of the programming language.
I’m trying to say, the software engineer likely unknowing caused an issue with your app or website 😀
How does Prerendering Rendertron or Prerender.io middleware help again?
Effectively when Google and other search engines of your choice crawl the page, they serve a prerendered / fully formed version of the page. Whereas client-side the user sees whatever you originally programmed.
You are limiting the amount of work search engines have to do, you are serving a page that is in pure HTML, nothing to render.
It’s fewer steps for crawlers.
How does this affect content marketing?
Really the terms “content marketing” and “SEO” are interchangeable. If your blog or large scale content website or web app is depended on content marketing, you better make sure it is rendering properly.
Otherwise some % of the effort to write or produce content will likely be wasted.
How to Test Prerender io and Rendertron
Since we are Search Engine focused, we are going to discuss how to see if the prerendering is working from a SEO perspective.
Meaning is the code loading in a more “Search Engine Friendly” way.
Here is what you do.
- In Chrome (or Opera) inspector (right click and click ‘inspect element’ for the non-coders)
- Choose ‘Network’ then click the gear icon.
- Most importantly, change the user agent to Googlebot, I’d probably test all three options, Smartphone, Desktop and regular Googlebot.
- Then RELOAD / REFRESH THE PAGE – lots of people skip this step.
- After that ‘view source’ and make sure the code you are worried about is showing up.
Why is it important to ‘View Source’ in client-side Browser (ideally Chrome)
For the non-programmers we are talking about this option when you right click on Chrome, Opera, or and client-side browser:
Doing so, will allow you to check the page’s code and server-side rendering. In short, look for elements that you are worried about, or visuals that just don’t look right when you load the page as Googlebot.
Which Programming Languages Can You Use them for?
Common Questions We Didn’t Quite Cover
Is there a prerender io or Rendertron alternative?
Currently the only other prerendering middleware I am aware of is puppeteer. However I have yet to test it in a live environment or testing scenario.
Again, no experience here but Angular Universal is another option to research.
What type of servers do they work on?
Both Rendertron & Prerender.io should be fine on nginx, AWS, firebase, apache, etc.
Why is server-side rendering better again? Vs rendered HTML?
Meaning, you make updates, and nothing happens until Google gets their act together. In 2021, Google had all types of indexing problems, we doubt it will be the last time something like this happens.
Because when we ran SEO tests with our associates.
You make up a keyword and hide it from somewhere on your site.
Frankly this is where rendertron & prerender.io can help, ideally they avoid this issue all together.
“<p>dfjid + aasde + fdekd</p>”
This should index if rendered indexing is up and running. You’ll be able to google “dfjidaasdefdekd” and the only result that shows up.
If you don’t show up for a few weeks, then you know something fishy is going on with rendered indexing.
Hat tip to Ted Kubaitis for inventing this method.
What if you have a different user and Search Engine experience?
Meaning, Google sees one thing, and the end user sees another.
To be frank, we are not 100% certain on the implementation, but have had clients successfully do this.
Final Thoughts on Prerender.io or Rendertron
I think we summed it up in the TL;DR didn’t read section of this article, however is what you should consider:
- Are you programming the app from scratch? If so, you should consider another programming language like next.js that already takes care of a lot of the issues mentioned in this article. Or another language that is server side.
- Which one should you go with? Prerender.io has better docs an support, rendertron is open source if you are on a budget and already have a large scale website. Probably prerender.io if you have any type of budget.
Agree or disagree? Got any questions? Feel free to reach out to us or comment below.