Bubble.io SEO ... Problems and Solutions

There seems to be some questions around whether Bubble SEO is an issue.

I thought I would start a thread where the problems and solutions can be contained as reference.

caveat - SEO is a black box, when people talk about SEO what they mean is ranking organically (in Google primarily).
To rank in Google you need a number of things - Good OnSite/page SEO and OffSite/page SEO.
These are a BIG topics for another thread/day, however in relation to Bubble we are talking about the OnSite - Specifically the technical SEO element - e.g what is perceived to be wrong about Bubble and why search engines are struggling with Bubble apps?

So, what seems to be the trouble? These are the issues that I have heard about on the forum and on Twitter.

  • JavaScript links in buttons not being detected on page (not good)
  • Workflow JavaScript redirects
  • Google LightSpeed page speed issues - typically performance
  • Problems with the XML sitemaps - I am still trying to find out what this means.
  • Indexing issues (likely related to javascript buttons, workflow links)

Are there any more I should be aware of?

What are the solutions Bubble should implement or the workarounds people have found - other than building the marketing aspect on another platform - lets try an address them and get them resolved.

Bubble SEO guide here: https://manual.bubble.io/help-guides/customizing-an-application/seo

Bubble states “Bubble has special logic to “send” a page to the crawlers at some point after the page has been rendered, so this is generally not a problem”

Is this a problem?

Here is another recommended thread related to Bubble SEO that is worth reading, i’ll be taking some bits to add here

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JavaScript Buttons

These do not appear to be seen on the page even when turning on JavaScript in AHREFS
source: https://twitter.com/NigelGodfrey/status/1515303441186308110

Solution:
To use text elements and style them out the same, but then hyperlink them.

Issues with this are if you update a page url you have to find all of these and relink them.

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Workflow JavaScript redirects - not I assume this is what they are ( verification needed)
Googles take

I think Google has a bit of trouble with these in occasion and on the forum people have suggested to also set a link on an element.

Solution:
Setup both, workflows on an element and then hyperlink a title, H1 etc - or relevant keyword for the page you are linking to.

Update on this one - Bubble has a “Link” element, don’t forget to use it, its better than adding html to a text element etc.

If you want to then use a workflow on a group, in this example a menu you can do so to make it easier for the visitor as long as there is a link for Google to crawl.

This is the same on any other element you want to make clickable for UX (and use a work flow on to redirect) - just ensure there is some element that has a hyperlink for the crawlers.

Google PageSpeed Insights & LightSpeed
Google data here

I ran though an example site I found on the Bubble Showcase as an example:
https://pagespeed.web.dev/report?url=https%3A%2F%2Fmartechbase.com%2F

The results are not too hot… Desktop

Solution:
TBA

Problems with the XML sitemaps
I am still trying to find out what this means, it was message I received on Twitter when I was asking about the subject.
https://twitter.com/NigelGodfrey/status/1515260079863472130 @NigelG

Solution:
There was a bug, apparently resolved:

Appname.com/sitemap.xml

Was outdated

And

Appname.com/version-live/sitemap.xml

Contained correct updated data.

There was a bug that in this thread below appears to have been resolved, from bubble support.

"The dynamic sitemaps re-generate if they are more than 1 day old when the URL is visited is not a recent update.”
“In addition, Bubble sitemaps are cached everyday and it can take up to 24-48 hours to notice a change in the sitemap itself since it has to regenerate as well.

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Indexing Issues

Now this i something I have seen on a number of posts and it can be caused by a number of factors:

  • Incorrect robots.txt
  • Incorrect or broken xml sitemaps
  • Duplicated content (can be caused by duplicate url like http://www.website.com,/a https://website.com/a, http://website.com/a).
  • Thin content
  • Orphan pages - Google cant get to them, doesn’t know about them
  • Crawl issues - as above, or due to a technical issue on site where the crawl bot loops endlessly. This can also be crawl budget elated where there are more pages than can be indexed in a given time frame (budget allocation).
  • Performance issues
  • Redirect loops

So, we need to identify which of the number of potential issues with indexing that it maybe by running some test… here are a few other indexing causes.

Problem? We don’t yet know exactly which part… if any of these are an issue.

Solution:
TBA

Hey @stuart4 this is super useful, thanks for putting this together! I think with most of these so called ‘deal breaker’ situations people talk about with using Bubble in a certain way, while there are sometimes actual limitations you need to work around, most often it’s an uninformed developer and a little bit of planning goes a long way. So these sorts of threads help a lot.

I think it’s also worth pointing out that unless you’re using a super dumbed down template website type platform, it’s impossible for the platform to do this well on your behalf and on-page optimization is ALWAYS going to be needed, so it’s unrealistic to expect it to just work out of the box.

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A thought on this… what about using links and styling them as buttons? Doesn’t this solve the issue of ‘readability’ by the bots but also preserve dynamic linking?

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I’m keen to know how / why people are using these. While I use javascript redirects commonly, it’s only ever to open a new tab and link out to an external website - in which case why do I care about SEO?

I can’t say I’ve ever felt the need to use this to redirect within my own app. So genuinely curious here on the use case.

I don’t want to use anything but bubble for my front and and back end … I dont see why we should… And let’s work together.

The marketing element of any app is key to keeping it alive and one single code base makes its simpler to maintain integrate.

We can resolve all of this together.

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I have been in seo for years and whilst not recently created any technical seo audits… I will dust off my gloves and do some for free to understand any technical issues bubble has…

Submit privately if you need to, what issues you are having specifically (please try to diagnose, no, I’m not ranking questions).

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From first look that would cause a duplicate content issue… Just bad for search engines knowing what’s what. It’s like having a dev website indexed with the same content.

A general SEO principle I’ve read about is how well Google can read and understand a site. If the code is difficult for Google to interpret, in addition to Google failing to accurately capture it, Google assumes the site will be a sub-par experience for the user and therefore penalizes it.

My suspicion is Bubble needs a lot of improvement in this area. I hope the new responsive engine is a step in that direction. The difficult truth is that organic SEO determines the success of many apps, in that if you can’t rank high organically the app is DOA.

These SEO issues and the issues with scaling searching (Bubble kicking certain searches to the client side, which kills the app’s ability to scale), are among the two biggest flaws in Bubble IMO.

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So I thought I would broaden my search and try to find Bubble sites that have found SEO success in some way… or not.

I went over to Builtwith, this is a pattern detection site that looks for technology on websites and picked a site that used bubble on its main domain e.g not app.website.com.
This way I know that the website in question is likely to want to rank with its main host address.

Interestingly there are 15,431 live websites using Bubble.

What is obvious form the limited data I have access to is that alot are subdomains…

I picked this site: jettly.com

And yea, they are having some pretty hot Bubble SEO success… they have 2.8k unique linking root domains with 1 million in total backlinks according to [SEMrush] which is a key to ranking. (Domain Overview | Semrush)

They rank number one for what I can assume is a massively profitable keyword “Private Jet Rental” @ 18k searches per month in the US.

So, that was the first one I picked… Ill take a look at some more - it seems this is possible.

One thing I will say is the total organic keywords they are ranking for is dropping, now this can be for a number of reasons… and without digging further I wont know if this is a related to them switching to Bubble or something else. But their overall traffic is rising and the keywords they would want to rank for … they are.


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I was tempted to move my marketing page to Bubble to make things simpler for me (I’m building a saas site) but coming from an ecomm background I knew there was no way it would be SEO optimized like building a marketing site with something like Carrd or even Squarespace. I’m not going to move over yet but I’m keen to follow this thread since I’m hoping that content created in my app might rank as well.

So when I run the analysis on this page it’s a classic case of throwing a bunch of unoptimised media on a page and wondering why the page takes forever to load. Otherwise it’s actually not too bad. So some really quick wins here I think.

For example:

  1. The page size is HUGE!

  2. The hero video is 4.69mb alone, but there is also another video lower down that loads on page load. Personally I’d show an optimised thumbnail and load the video if a user clicks play, of which many will not.

  3. The images are all massive and are then resized down to like 20% of their actual size. There’s also no thought on format either. i.e. some are just massive screen shot png’s vs. serving them in jpeg or webp fast and reducing the file size down.

But generally what I see in loads of cases is just poor thinking when people are putting pages together. I had a client come to me recently with an app that a developer had built for them that was importing stock data from an API.

The developer made countless mistakes but two of the major ones were:

  1. Rather then selecting the right API endpoint where you could search for a stock. They used an endpoint that pulled down all stocks and then filtered it. So to search for a stock you had to first wait for 50,000 stocks to get pulled down. Madness

  2. Then when you looked at all of this background info on the company which was like 100 points of data from the API. They did an identical API call 100 times for each of the fields they were populating.

Another classic example is loading up on plugins that load all of these heavy javascript libraries, yet you use the plugin for some super basic task.

There is a popular Bubble plugin that people use for nice looking elements like toggles etc. But it also has a loading element and whether you use that or not it’ll load the Lottie player on each page load. So you add seconds to your page load for absolutely no benefit.

I could go on all day (can’t you tell I’m passionate about this lol). But the moral of the story is first understand the impact of how you build something and basic planning goes a long way


Josh @ Support Dept
Helping no-code founders get unstuck fast :rocket:save hours, & ship faster with an expert :man_technologist: on-demand

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I think having a single code base is massively underrated

Some of the things to consider are:

  1. Your whole site can be optimised for both logged in and logged out users. So returning users can get a more personalised experience, starting at the homepage. Or at the very least if your landing page isn’t really relevant for a returning user you can just redirect them to where they would likely want to go - i.e. a dashboard for instance
  2. You maximise your efforts - most companies look at the landing page as just a way to attract new clients and then go to loads of expense writing blogs and creating all this awesome content. There is often zero visibility and hooks to this within the app, not to mention a clunky experience sending them off out of app to view it. Seems crazy to me and only helps reinforce your value by making this stuff more obvious.
  3. But even if you do send them off the app to view it, they usually can’t interact with it in any meaningful way and therefore you lose a wealth of user-generated content that could have been indexed in Google. The volume of long-tail benefits of user-generated content in some apps can eclipse many times over anything you can do with static content.
  4. Rather than talking about your app and what it does and how great it is on some static Webflow or Wordpress site - why don’t you create a version with guardrails for logged out users so they can see the benefit and experience the app before they’ve logged in. That’s the best carrot you can ever offer, and will save you loads of money on some horrible explainer video with cringy music. If you’re worried about them then not wanting to sign up, then you have other issues you need to solve first.

Josh @ Support Dept
Helping no-code founders get unstuck fast :rocket:save hours, & ship faster with an expert :man_technologist: on-demand

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While there’s definitely value in Bubble putting further focus into SEO, and a built-in tool that audited a page for on-page SEO and made Bubble specific recommendations would be amazing. But there are more vanilla SEO tools available in many forms by external players that do help.

In my experience, I see a lot of people that don’t really take the time to learn how to build a good app. So they throw a bunch of things on a page without a thought on optimising for user experience or structuring their pages for SEO, load in 99 plugins and then wonder why their page takes 20 seconds to load and their rankings suck.

The way for Bubble to ensure great SEO on every page is to lock down how pages are built and push everyone down a path that they’ve optimised for.

If we look in the page audit above the biggest issue for that site was unoptimised media in terms of page speed. So the response from Bubble here would be to put a low limit on the size of any given file. But I don’t think anyone wants this in the slightest.

If I look further in the code I find that there’s no H1-H6 structure, no open-graph structured data, the title is way too long etc. These things have a material impact on how Google interprets your site and are easy oversights, easily fixed, and not really for Bubble to solve.

If you look at competitor like Webflow there are some really awesome pages where people have taken the time to optimise the hell out of it, and plenty where people throw a bunch of stuff on a page and you get a very similar outcome.

I see Bubble as an alternative for code, so as a comparison it’s already has 100% more SEO tools built-in.

When I build apps I use SEO audit tools and pagespeed tools not only to ensure I create somewhat friendly SEO pages (I wouldn’t say I’m perfect at it) but it also highlights issues that I need to solve that inevitably solve for user experience as well, as they’re solving for one of the same.

In terms of some searches getting conducted in the browser, well again, I think it comes back to people not taking the time to understand how searches work and when they might want to structure it one way or another. All methods are valid for certain use-cases, incorrect for some, and horribly wrong for others.

i.e. Using a filter on a search to return a static subset of data is going to result in unnecessary records being downloaded and organised by the browser. So in this case I would want to avoid using a filter. Let’s say if I wanted to show only 1 record out of 10,000 records - it would be madness.

But if my table had 100 records and while I may only show 10 records at a time, if I expect that a user will want to interact quickly/often with my page to change which 10 records are shown, then a filter is perfect. This will mean all of those records are downloaded to the browser and easily scrubbed through. If this was handled on the server there would be latency each time the user scrubbed through the list and the experience would be worse. So pushing this to the server isn’t ideal at all


Josh @ Support Dept
Helping no-code founders get unstuck fast :rocket:save hours, & ship faster with an expert :man_technologist: on-demand

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The next quicklook I took from the Bubble Showcase page, first in the list:

This is a travel website so I am assuming it would want some love from the SEO gods…

Big issues in July 2020 from what we see here with traffic, so i took a look at waybackmachine and there was a site change by the looks… to Bubble? I would assume this is the case due to the error in the page being similar to that of a Bubble one and I cant find the same from before this date plus the site was quite different.

However SEO site migration issues are common unless done very carefully so blaming Bubble would be harsh without knowing how they did this and how the site was previously structured.

“Your browser was unable to load the application data. We’ve been notified of the issue. Please try again in a few moments and make sure not to use ad-blockers.”

This appears to be a common issue with this site on WBM and i did notice it on the live site a few times… this could be a cause for traffic loss or part of the issue.

I ran a few other Bubble sites through WBM and they were fine.


The site ranks for a bunch of its brand terms number 1 and for a few other commercial terms… the site may just need a bit of work to help it recover lost rankings from some experts

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