Dynamic content offers marketers the opportunity to deliver highly targeted content based on a range of criteria, including client personas and user behavior. For marketers committed to delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, dynamic content is the “holy grail” of any content marketing strategy. However, as useful as dynamic content is, it doesn’t come without its problems.
One of the most frequently asked questions we hear about dynamic content from our clients is: How does Google rank dynamic content for SEO when that content doesn’t actually exist until it is delivered?
It’s a good question and one that’s been bothering marketers and major search engines alike for years.
Note: It’s important to remember that while your dynamic content doesn’t physically exist on a single page, it will still have to be researched and created. In this respect, the terms “dynamic content” and “marketing automation” are a bit of a misnomer. Dynamic content delivered by any marketing automation system will require a significant upfront investment in creative and strategic energy if it’s really going to move.
An Inconvenient Truth: Search Engines Prefer Static Content
However, because marketers and search engines share the same perfectly aligned objectives of delivering the best possible content experience for their users, there is a workaround. This strategy is called dynamic rendering.
What Is Dynamic Rendering?
Google describes dynamic rendering as a process that switches between client-side (dynamic) rendered content and pre-rendered (static) content for specific user agents.
In plain English, dynamic rendering identifies any engagement coming from a search engine crawler and then switches any dynamic content with a static HTML version of that page which can be crawled and indexed accordingly.
Isn’t This a Risky SEO Strategy?
Dynamic rendering might panic some SEO experts who confuse this strategy with cloaking. Cloaking is the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines, and is definitely in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines. Cloaking will get your web pages sent to SEO jail and is, therefore, not recommended.
However, dynamic rendering is a 100% “white hat” strategy and fully endorsed by Google – but you still need to be careful.
As long as your dynamic rendering strategy delivers content that is similar to your dynamic pages, Google won’t view dynamic rendering as cloaking. For example, there really shouldn’t be an issue if you are using dynamic content to deliver a simple personalization strategy featuring users’ names, geographic locations, price promotions, or local currencies on otherwise standard pages.
If, however, your strategy delivers a completely different page, for example, about Paris to your users and New York to the web crawlers, you could find yourself in trouble.
Consider this: If you are worried about the potential risk of dynamic rendering, we recommend you start with one of these five safe dynamic content strategies.
How to Implement Dynamic Rendering
Google provides a “simple” guide to implementing dynamic rendering as part of the Advanced SEO section of its Google Search Central tutorials.
Implementing a dynamic rendering strategy will require an in-depth technical knowledge of SEO and consideration of other factors like site speed, 404 errors and 301 redirects. In fact, site speed is an essential aspect to consider when deploying dynamic content.
You literally have just two or three seconds at most for your pages to download before users start bouncing off your site. Bounces sound alarm bells at the search engines by suggesting that a web page is of poor quality and doesn’t offer visitors what was initially promised.
If the technology or code used to deliver your dynamic content considerably slows down your web pages, Google will quickly demote your site in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
If this all sounds a little overwhelming, the SEO experts at emfluence are always on hand to walk you through the process or manage the entire process for you.
At emfluence, we take a holistic approach to SEO. We understand that SEO isn’t just about keywords and phrases, and content for the sake of content rarely works. Traffic without strategy is an exercise in vanity. This is why our SEO process starts with our clients’ objectives around which we tailor a comprehensive approach to ensure that those goals are met.
SEO Isn’t a Standalone Strategy
When delivering dynamic content, it’s important to remember that SEO isn’t a standalone strategy. Email marketing, social media marketing and paid search should all be part of the mix in any dynamic content-led marketing strategy.
The most successful marketers will always have a clear view of how each of these strategies impacts and assists each other. For example, in the ideal world, SEO should ultimately help you reduce (but not altogether remove) your reliance on expensive acquisition techniques like paid search. Conversely, paid search allows you to almost instantaneously pick up any slack while waiting for your SEO activities to start delivering traffic. Meanwhile, email and social media marketing will maximize the potential of hard-won new subscribers and customers and dramatically improve your marketing return on investment.
The fact is, successful marketing is more about finding a profitable balance across all channels rather than mastering one. It’s because SEO, paid search, email marketing and social media are so reliant on each other that it makes so much sense to manage each strategy using a fully integrated MarTech stack and carefully coordinated expert resource.
Do you need help delivering dynamic content that ranks well on the major search engines? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.