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Client-Side Vs. Server-Side Rendering



Client-Side Vs. Server-Side Rendering

Faster webpage loading times play a big part in user experience and SEO, with page load speed a key determining factor for Google’s algorithm.

A front-end web developer must decide the best way to render a website so it delivers a fast experience and dynamic content.

Two popular rendering methods include client-side rendering (CSR) and server-side rendering (SSR).

All websites have different requirements, so understanding the difference between client-side and server-side rendering can help you render your website to match your business goals.

What Is Client-Side Rendering, And How Does It Work?

Client-side rendering is a relatively new approach to rendering websites.

It became popular when JavaScript libraries started integrating it, with Angular and React.js being some of the best examples of libraries used in this type of rendering.

It works by rendering a website’s JavaScript in your browser rather than on the server.

The server responds with a bare-bones HTML document containing the JS files instead of getting all the content from the HTML document.

While the initial upload time is a bit slow, the subsequent page loads will be rapid as they aren’t reliant on a different HTML page per route.

From managing logic to retrieving data from an API, client-rendered sites do everything “independently.” The page is available after the code is executed because every page the user visits and its corresponding URL are created dynamically.

The CSR process is as follows:

  • The user enters the URL they wish to visit in the address bar.
  • A data request is sent to the server at the specified URL.
  • On the client’s first request for the site, the server delivers the static files (CSS and HTML) to the client’s browser.
  • The client browser will download the HTML content first, followed by JavaScript. These HTML files connect the JavaScript, starting the loading process by displaying loading symbols the developer defines to the user. At this stage, the website is still not visible to the user.
  • After the JavaScript is downloaded, content is dynamically generated on the client’s browser.
  • The web content becomes visible as the client navigates and interacts with the website.

What Is Server-Side Rendering, And How Does It Work?

Server-side rendering is the more common technique for displaying information on a screen.

The web browser submits a request for information from the server, fetching user-specific data to populate and sending a fully rendered HTML page to the client. Every time the user visits a new page on the site, the server will repeat the entire process.

Here’s how the SSR process goes step-by-step:

  • The user enters the URL they wish to visit in the address bar.
  • The server serves a ready-to-be-rendered HTML response to the browser.
  • The browser renders the page (now viewable) and downloads JavaScript.
  • The browser executes React, thus making the page interactable.

What Are The Differences Between Client-Side And Server-Side Rendering?

The main difference between these two rendering approaches is in the algorithms of their operation. CSR shows an empty page before loading, while SSR displays a fully-rendered HTML page on the first load.

This gives server-side rendering a speed advantage over client-side rendering, as the browser doesn’t need to process large JavaScript files. Content is often visible within a couple of milliseconds.

Search engines can crawl the site for better SEO, making it easy to index your webpages. This readability in the form of text is precisely the way SSR sites appear in the browser.

However, client-side rendering is a cheaper option for website owners.

It relieves the load on your servers, passing the responsibility of rendering to the client (the bot or user trying to view your page). It also offers rich site interactions by providing fast website interaction after the initial load.

Fewer HTTP requests are made to the server with CSR, unlike in SSR, where each page is rendered from scratch, resulting in a slower transition between pages.

SSR can also buckle under a high server load if the server receives many simultaneous requests from different users.

The drawbacks of CSR are the longer initial loading time. This can impact SEO; crawlers might not wait for the content to load and exit the site.

This two-phased approach raises the possibility of seeing empty content on your page by missing JavaScript content after first crawling and indexing the HTML of a page. Remember that, in most cases, CSR requires an external library.

When To Use Server-Side Rendering

If you want to improve your Google visibility and rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs), server-side rendering is the number one choice.

E-learning websites, online marketplaces, and applications with a straightforward user interface with fewer pages, features, and dynamic data all benefit from this type of rendering.

When To Use Client-Side Rendering

Client-side rendering is usually paired with dynamic web apps like social networks or online messengers. This is because these apps’ information constantly changes and must deal with large and dynamic data to perform fast updates to meet user demand.

The focus here is on a rich site with many users, prioritizing the user experience over SEO.

Which Is Better: Server-Side Or Client-Side Rendering?

If your site’s content doesn’t require much user interaction, then SSR is more effective. It positively influences accessibility, page load times, SEO, and social media support.

On the other hand, CSR is excellent for providing cost-effective rendering for web applications, and it’s easier to build and maintain; it’s better for First Input Delay (FID).

Sometimes, you don’t have to choose between the two as hybrid solutions are available. Both SSR and CSR can be implemented within a single website or webpage.

For example, in an online marketplace, pages with product descriptions can be rendered on the server, as they are static and need to be easily indexed by search engines.

Pages like user accounts don’t need to be ranked in the SERPs, so a CRS approach might be better for UX.

Both CSR and SSR are popular approaches to rendering websites. You and your team need to make this decision at the initial stage of product development.

Think about your project and how your chosen rendering will impact your position in the SERPs and your website’s user experience.

Generally, CSR is better for dynamic websites, while SSR is best suited for static websites.

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Featured Image: Playzen Design/Shutterstock

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Google To Upgrade All Retailers To New Merchant Center By September




Google To Upgrade All Retailers To New Merchant Center By September

Google has announced plans to transition all retailers to its updated Merchant Center platform by September.

This move will affect e-commerce businesses globally and comes ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The Merchant Center is a tool for online retailers to manage how their products appear across Google’s shopping services.

Key Changes & Features

The new Merchant Center includes several significant updates.

Product Studio

An AI-powered tool for content creation. Google reports that 80% of current users view it as improving efficiency.

This feature allows retailers to generate tailored product assets, animate still images, and modify existing product images to match brand aesthetics.

It also simplifies tasks like background removal and image resolution enhancement.

Centralized Analytics

A new tab consolidating various business insights, including pricing data and competitive analysis tools.

Retailers can access pricing recommendations, competitive visibility reports, and retail-specific search trends, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and capitalize on popular product categories.

Redesigned Navigation

Google claims the new interface is more intuitive and cites increased setup success rates for new merchants.

The platform now offers simplified website verification processes and can pre-populate product information during setup.

Initial User Response

According to Google, early adopters have shown increased engagement with the platform.

The company reports a 25% increase in omnichannel merchants adding product offers in the new system. However, these figures have yet to be independently verified.

Jeff Harrell, Google’s Senior Director of Merchant Shopping, states in an announcement:

“We’ve seen a significant increase in retention and engagement among existing online merchants who have moved to the new Merchant Center.”

Potential Challenges and Support

While Google emphasizes the upgrade’s benefits, some retailers, particularly those comfortable with the current version, may face challenges adapting to the new system.

The upgrade’s mandatory nature could raise concerns among users who prefer the existing interface or have integrated workflows based on the current system.

To address these concerns, Google has stated that it will provide resources and support to help with the transition. This includes tutorial videos, detailed documentation, and access to customer support teams for troubleshooting.

Industry Context

This update comes as e-commerce platforms evolve, with major players like Amazon and Shopify enhancing their seller tools. Google’s move is part of broader efforts to maintain competitiveness in the e-commerce services sector.

The upgrade could impact consumers by improving product listings and providing more accurate information across Google’s shopping services.

For the e-commerce industry as a whole, it signals a continued push towards AI-driven tools and data-centric decision-making.

Transition Timeline

Google states that retailers will be automatically upgraded by September if they still need to transition.

The company advises users to familiarize themselves with the new features before the busy holiday shopping period.

Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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Meta AI Introduces AI-Generated Photos to All Platforms




Meta AI Adds AI-Generated Images to Social and Messaging Platforms and Expands Availability to More Languages and Countries

Meta just released multiple updates to Meta AI which brings advanced image generation and editing capabilities directly to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp feeds, plus availability in more countries and languages.

New Meta AI Creative Tools

Meta AI is bringing AI generated and AI Edited photography that can be generated at the moment a user is making a post or sending a message with a new tool called Imagine Me.

Imagine Me is a prompt that can be used to transform an uploaded image that can be shared. This new feature is first rolling out as a beta in the United States.

Meta explains:

“Imagine yourself creates images based on a photo of you and a prompt like ‘Imagine me surfing’ or ‘Imagine me on a beach vacation’ using our new state-of-the-art personalization model. Simply type “Imagine me” in your Meta AI chat to get started, and then you can add a prompt like “Imagine me as royalty” or “Imagine me in a surrealist painting.” From there, you can share the images with friends and family, giving you the perfect response or funny sidebar to entertain your group chat.”

New Editing Features

Meta products like Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram now have advanced editing capabilities that allow users to add or remove objects from images, to change them in virtually any manner, such as their example of turning a cat in an image into a dog. A new Edit With AI button is forthcoming in a month that will unlock even more AI editing power.

Adding AI generated images to Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp within feed, posts, stories, comments and messages is rolling out this week in English and coming later to other languages.

Screenshot of a Facebook user adding an AI generated image into their post

Meta AI In More Countries And Languages

Meta AI is now available in seven additional countries, bringing the total countries to to 22. It is also available in seven more languages.

List of Seven Additional Countries:

  1. Argentina
  2. Cameroon
  3. Chile
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador
  6. Mexico
  7. Peru

Meta AI is now also available in the following seven additional languages:

  1. French
  2. German
  3. Hindi
  4. Hindi-Romanized Script
  5. Italian
  6. Portuguese
  7. Spanish

Advanced Math And Coding

Meta AI is making their most advanced model, Llama 405B, available for users to take advantage of its advanced reasoning abilities that can answer complex answers and excells at math and coding.

Meta AI writes:

“You can get help on your math homework with step-by-step explanations and feedback, write code faster with debugging support and optimization suggestions, and master complex technical and scientific concepts with expert instruction.”

Read the official announcement:

Meta AI Is Now Multilingual, More Creative and Smarter

Featured Image by Shutterstock/QubixStudio

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System Builders – How AI Changes The Work Of SEO




Kevin Indig's Growth Memo for SEJ

AI is terraforming tech. The content and SEO ecosystem is undergoing a massive structural change.

Human-written content gains value faster for LLM training than for end consumers as the pure profit licensing deals between LLM developers and publishers show.

Publishers struggle to survive from digital subscriptions but get millions that go straight to their bottom line for providing training data.

Content platforms, social networks, SaaS companies and consumer apps coat their products with AI. A few examples:

  • Spotify DJ (AI-generated playlist).
  • AI Overview (AI answers in Google Search).
  • Instagram AI personas (celebrity AI chatbots).
  • Ebay’s magical listing (turn a photo into a listing).
  • Redfin Redesign (try interior designs on real house pictures).
Image Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality of machine-generated content (MGC) challenges human-generated content (HGC). I ran an experiment with my Twitter and LinkedIn followers: I asked them to choose which of two articles was written by a human and which by a machine – and they had to explain their answer.

Only a handful of people figured out that AI wrote both pieces. I intentionally framed the question in a leading way to see if people would challenge the setting or believe that one piece was written by a human if told so.

  • Not an isolated experiment: A survey of 1,900 Americans found that 63.5% of people can’t distinguish between AI content and human content.1
  • People seek help: Google search demand for [ai checker] has reached 100,000 in May 2024 (Glimpse).
  • Dark side: scammers use MGC to make money, as 77% of AI scam victims lost money.2
Search demand for AI checkerImage Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality level of LLMs pushes SEO work towards automating workflows and learning with AI, while writers will take content from good to great instead of zero to one.

Boost your skills with Growth Memo’s weekly expert insights. Subscribe for free!

How AI Changes The Work Of SEOImage Credit: Lyna ™

System Builders

Clients, podcasters and panel hosts often ask me what skills SEOs need to build for the AI future. For a long time, my answer was to learn, stay open-minded and gain as much practical experience with AI as possible.

Now, my answer is SEOs should learn how to build AI agents and workflows that automate tasks. AI changes the way search works but also the way SEOs work.

AI + No-code Allows SEOs To Automate Workflows

A few examples:

1/ Cannibalization

  • Old world: SEOs download search console data and create pivot tables to spot keyword cannibalization.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI workflow that sends alters, identifies true keyword cannibalization, makes content suggestions to fix the problem, and monitors the improvement.

2/ Site Crawling

  • Old world: SEOs crawl websites to find inefficiencies in internal linking, status code errors, duplicate content, etc.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI agent that regularly crawls the site and automatically suggests new internal links that are shipped after human approval, fixes broken canonical tags and excludes soft 404 errors in the robots.txt.

3/ Content Creation

  • Old world: SEOs do keyword research and write content briefs. Writers create the content.
  • New world: SEOs automate keyword research with AI and create hundreds of relevant articles as a foundation for writers to build on.

All of this is already possible today with AI workflow tools like AirOps or Apify, which chain agents and LLMs together to scrape, analyze, transform data or create content.

Moving forward, we’ll spend much more time building automated systems instead of wasting time on point analyses and catalogs of recommendations. The SEO work will be defining logic, setting rules, prompting and coding.

building automated systems Building workflows with AirOps (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

You Can Learn (Almost) Anything With AI

I never made the time to really learn Python or R, but with the help of Chat GPT and Gemini in Colab, I can write any script with natural language prompts.

When the script doesn’t work, I can paste a screenshot into Chat GPT and describe the issue to get a solution. AI helps with Regex, Google Sheets/Excel, R, Python, etc. Nothing is off-limits.

Being able to write scripts can solve problems like data analysis, a/b testing and using APIs. As an SEO, I’m no longer dependent on engineers, data scientists or writers to perform certain tasks. I can act faster and on my own account.

I’m not the only one to figure this out. People are learning to code, write and many other skills with AI. We can learn to build AI workflows by asking AI to teach us.

Search demand for coding with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for write with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for learn with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig

When you can learn almost anything, the only limit is time.

The Work Of Writers Changes

Against common belief, writers won’t be crossed out of this equation but will play the critical role of editing, directing and curating.

In any automated process, humans QA the output. Think of car assembling lines. Even though AI content leaps in quality, spot checks reduce the risk of errors. Caught issues, such as wrong facts, weird phrasing or off-brand wording, will be critical feedback to fine-tune models to improve their output.

Instead of leg work like writing drafts, writers will bring AI content from good to great. In the concept of information gain, writers will spend most of their time making a piece outstanding.

The rising quality work spans from blog content to programmatic content, where writers will add curated content when searches have a desire for human experience, such as in travel.

A mini guide to Los AngelesTripadvisor’s attraction pages feature human-curated sections. (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Unfair Advantage

As often with new technology, a few first-mover people and companies get exponential value until the rest catch up. My worry is that a few fast-moving companies will grab massive land with AI.

And yet, this jump in progress will allow newcomers to challenge incumbents and get a fair chance to compete on the field.

AI might be a bigger game changer for SEOs than for Google. The raw power of AI might help us overcome challenges from AI Overviews and machine learning-driven algorithm updates.

But the biggest win might be that SEOs can finally make something instead of delivering recommendations. The whole value contribution of SEOs changes because my output can drive results faster.

Survey: ChatGPT and AI Content – Can people tell the difference?

Artificial Intelligence Voice Scams on the Rise with 1 in 4 Adults Impacted

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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