I’ve been working on the SEO of other photographers sites since around 2014/2015. During that time, there’s a recurrent theme I have seen.
Here’s typically how it goes:
- Photographer switches theme
- Enquiries dry up
- Photographer questions their talent and considers quitting
- Someone in a facebook group suggests they get an SEO consultant to look at their site
Client-side Rendering and Server-side Rendering
There are some major differences between server-side rendering and client-side rendering and this links with Google bot’s ability to read them.
With traditional HTML sites, the code is rendered on the server, so when the Google bot visits your page, the code is there and ready to be read. No further action is required.
The key thing here is the part about ‘when there are more resources available‘. Google has said it could be weeks.
So, at the very least, anything indexed is going to take significantly longer.
In addition, many photographers do not track their data properly. Website issues are often not picked up and acted on fast enough as a result.
The time photographers seek me out for help, they can have had months of underperformance, but they will often not be aware of this at all. Many assume that site visitor no longer like their work.
Learn more in this video:
Yes, it can… and herein lies the problem.
At 10:50 John say’s ‘We’ll crawl and render all of the pages, but sometimes that doesn’t work… … in those cases where we can’t render the content, what will happen is we’ll fall back to the raw HTML version that you serve us as well.
When talking with technical support at various web design companies over the last few years, the same conversation has come up time and time again.
The conversation can be summarised as this:
Me: It’s not rendering yours though…
Me: The queries showing in Google search console reflect the fact the bot is not able to render the page prop...
Me: The rankings tanked when the theme was switched though, and all evidence points towards these two events being connected.
Me to the client: I recommend you switch to Divi. Go for a super simple homepage with a static photo and text and minimal fancy sh*t.
John at 11:35: ‘If you recognise one of your pages dropping out of Google’s index, then it might be that we’re just not able to render them anymore and that we’re falling back to the raw HTML version‘
It’s the implementation.
If I had designed a theme that was resulting in clients sites dropping in rankings, I’d want to know about it. The response I typically get from theme and template companies from within the photography industry? Typically dismissiveness and denial. This is not helpful for anyone.
I’d like to see web designers and developers test their themes and templates more.
I’d like to see data collated so that rendering issue trends could be quickly identified and addressed.
In the meantime, where developers are uncooperative, unhelpful and try to bling my clients with technology, I’ll be helping them switch to a theme the Google bot can read.
But – I’d rather be working together with others in the industry to help improve things.
Are you open to a conversation about this? Let’s talk.
In my opinion, the simpler you can do something, the better.
Photography sites can be very effective without lots of bells and whistles, so the simpler you keep things, the better.
My advice would be to prioritise user experience and focus on things like speed and providing useful information in alignment with what Google is looking for.
I’ve collated some relevant articles for further reading: