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Adoption of Edge SEO for eCommerce: The Power of Workers

Posted by Fabien Galet on

Adoption of Edge SEO for eCommerce: The Power of Workers


MindArc offers cutting edge technologies partnering with Shopify and third-party systems such as AP21 to build and enhance e-commerce capability for our clients. However, when it comes to trying and improving SEO, we often face similar bottlenecks across verticals. These bottlenecks can happen for a few reasons:

  • Development backlog and prioritisation: We often work on lean development sprints. We face the challenge of effort vs impact—and most of the time, technical SEO sprints are mostly focused on quick wins rather than long term gain and innovative approaches that cause significant development resources delay in implementation.
  • Cost of the development: As mentioned above, the technical SEO long term approach usually involves a costly and lengthy development process that puts a breaking point for the clients to go ahead despite concrete rationales on the approach.
  • The limitation with Shopify: Despite seeing great improvement over the years and what I have discovered by testing and learning through the Shopify platform working at MindArc, we still encounter a couple of limitations that cause friction in our technical SEO pipeline.

Based on research and what I have learned in the past couple of years thanks to Danny Taylor and Kevin Ellen, these challenges could be resolved through the same solution: Edge SEO.

What is Edge SEO?

Edge SEO is based on Edge Computing. Unlike cloud computing, Edge Computing is a distributed data processing at the edge of the network. This means that the applications, data or services are moved from central nodes (data centres) to the outer edges (geographically closest) of a network.

It is now possible to write code at the edge of the network-incorporated changes made to the network. These are also known as service workers, who typically run JavaScript without accessing the underlying infrastructure.

This means that technical SEO enhancement can be performed quickly and efficiently—from installing a large number of hreflang tags to installing and handling redirects. It can also be reduced development resources and lower costs as a result since the dev teams are less involved. However, you should always coordinate your code change with the dev team when implementing service workers to prevent any possible website changes resulting from conflicts.

Let's take a closer look at the potential uses of service workers around Edge SEO:

Implement hreflang at scale

Hreflang attributes (tags that tell Google geo-targeting of a website and allow delivery of the appropriate language version) are typically integrated into three ways:

  • in an XML sitemap
  • as an HTML link element in the website header
  • in the HTTP header

The solution is to tackle down rapid growth in infrastructure that uses support of service workers. They allow you to implement hreflang and therefore modify the server response for search engine user agents without the need of using dev resources to rewrite the codebase.

 

Redirect management

Setting up redirects is not always straightforward as it might seem, as some platforms do not support redirects. There may also be server-side restrictions and sometimes we may face IT policy restrictions to modify the .htaccess.

Service worker can help you by influencing the server response even before visitors see the page. This means that the output of the server code can be changed at a later stage at peripheral nodes in order to display a 3XX code for instance and perform a corresponding transfer. The level control can also be easily controlled by non-dev teams via Cloudflare workers.

 

Increase site security

For years, all search engines have been clamouring for better security protocols. Thanks to maintenance agents, you can create a whole series of security headers:

  • HSTS
  • X-Frame-Options
  • X-XSS Protection
  • Referrer policy

By implementing security headers, you can protect not just your website but also your users from dangerous security risks, most of which are detected by passive scanning.

 

Read log files

Some platforms (such as Shopify and Salesforce CommerceCloud) do not allow access to log files. This access can be implemented via Cloudflare through Cloudfare Logpush (currently in beta) or its service worker. Alternatively, and in this case actually, much faster, you can also test BotLogs from an SEO standpoint.

 

Edge SEO encourages testing

Thanks to service workers, it is even possible to quickly adjust the content of a website and use Google Analytics to perform A / B testing to track key figures or to track and analyze fluctuations in the data. In addition, service workers can modify page elements to adapt them to the implementation of another version of A / B testing.

 

Implement the changes

Sometimes it is necessary to quickly remove something from a website. If you don't have access to the CMS, you can use service worker to have the page display a 503 error until the item can be permanently deleted or redirected.


Conclusion

It is becoming clear that service worker in the context of Edge SEO can, at one point or another, make life a lot easier for SEOers. However, it is important to always work in duo with DevOps to ensure that changes made at the edge of the network, while modifying the site, do not conflict with anything.