Edge SEO refers to the use of edge computing technologies to develop new SEO implementation, testing, and research methods that are outside of our present operating parameters.
Cloudflare Workers are a serverless application that lets you change the underlying codebase while it’s being served by Cloudflare’s CDN.
What Is Edge Computing?
Edge computing aims to close the gap between the user and the data source to minimise latency and bandwidth consumption.
We can overcome the challenges of legacy website systems and tech stacks, congested development queues, and unhelpful developers by deploying workers, such as Cloudflare Workers.
In the case of Cloudflare Workers, this would include installing Cloudflare on the website in question, which provides a variety of speed and security benefits in and of itself.
There are a few myths regarding Cloudflare (and other providers) being harmful to SEO, but they aren’t true in my experience.
Why We Should Adopt Edge SEO
These systems enable website owners, marketing teams, and non-developers to make content changes and install critical technical SEO components with little to no DevOps participation and costs.
That said, it’s critical to keep the website development team informed about all discussions and planned deployments via workers to ensure that these deployments are compatible with the existing and planned code base and don’t introduce conflicts or other errors.
This isn’t a brand-new concept. Maintaining your reverse proxy, such as Nginx and Lua, is an alternative that produces similar results (with content transformation occurring in Lua).
Technical SEO Implementations
You can use the edge layer to deploy some technical SEO requests in addition to saving bandwidth and improving web application delivery efficiency.
It’s similar to having a pre-render for your website, where you can modify anything about what’s being given because you have complete control over the DOM (Document Object Model) before it’s rendered.
While the applications are potentially unlimited, two key technological areas that benefit the most:
Implementation and management of hreflang tags on a scale.
Implementation and management of redirects.
Hreflang Cloudflare Workers
Traditionally, there have been three ways to implement hreflang:
- Code injection into the <head>.
- Through the XML sitemaps.
- In the HTTP header.
This isn’t always achievable, as many huge businesses have grown their operations but not their infrastructures.
Cloudflare Workers provide a fourth method of implementation, allowing you to change the direct server response to search engine user-agents and users without having to change the underlying codebase.
We can also ensure that Google can see and use the hreflang tags by utilising the mobile-friendly testing tool and reviewing the rendered HTML.
Redirects are another element we take for granted and expect can be done quickly and without difficulty.
However, this isn’t always been the case.
There are real-life cases of worldwide firms who have been unable to deploy redirects in the last two years due to:
- Redirects are not supported by their platform (for example, GitPages).
- Server restrictions (e.g., running physical servers such as ZXTMs which have line limits).
- Development hurdles for requesting access to the .htaccess file.
These workers allow us to edit the server response code and return a 3XX, as well as perform a redirect because they can modify the server response before it reaches the user.
Improving Site Security
You may already be aware that in the coming years, cyber security will play a larger role in Google’s algorithms.
Because it’s logical.
Google already notifies us when it suspects a website has been hacked or includes malware, and Google’s main goal is to provide us content that is relevant to our purpose and securely satisfies our needs.
Security headers like HSTS, X-Frame-Options, X-XSS Protection and Referrer Policies may all be implemented with Cloudflare Workers (to name a few).
We can protect users (and our websites) from some of the OWASP Top 10 most critical security concerns by adding these security headers, all of which can be identified by passive scanning, which Google could include into its crawling process with relative ease.
Testing & Research
Good SEO research is essential for advancing the industry’s expertise and best practices.
Workers provide an alternative technique of implementing A/B testing, log file gathering, and even making short-term content modifications to a website.
Workers make it possible to do A/B testing and measure success metrics and variant performance using Google Analytics. This procedure may be made simple and scalable once more using Cloudflare Worker generation tools:
You can use workers to change page components, create variations (using page-level noindex tags), and then tell a second worker to do the AB testing split.
Although Cloudflare Workers may be utilised for free, with a $5 monthly upgrade, it’s more cost-effective for small businesses and websites to A/B test this way. You also get all of Cloudflare’s other perks.
If you’re a larger company looking to run SEO experiments and already use Cloudflare, this could be a good option to Distilled ODN.
Log File Collection
Although log file analysis is an important skill for any SEO, it is not always possible.
You can’t retrieve logs from platforms like Shopify, Salesforce, and CommerceCloud (previously Demandware). Cloudflare, on the other hand, allows you to capture logs on the edge.
You can do this with Cloudflare in two ways: the first is Cloudflare Logpush, which is presently in BETA, and the second is Cloudflare Workers.
Short Term Changes & Stop Gaps
You may occasionally need to remove something off the website that you do not have access to in the CMS.
For example, when my friend used to work in-house at a care home provider, the website linked to a “cost calculator” provided by a third party to provide information to consumers.
This calculator had not been updated in some years, causing consumers to utilise it and then complain about the price reported by the calculator vs the price quoted by the provider (the calculator was providing very low quotes based on old data).
The calculator page needed to be removed as soon as possible, however, due to the locked-down CMS and the development agency’s tight retainer and work schedule process, this was not possible.
We could have forced the page to return a 503 status code to visitors and search engines as a stop-gap until it could be removed and redirected appropriately if Cloudflare Worker and serverless apps technology had been available at the time.
SEO ADVANTAGE AND WEBSITE PERFORMANCE
When using Edge SEO, it is critical to measure the effects of your changes to the site.
Any changes can cause the page’s performance to suffer.
Keep this in mind as you make changes. Use tools like Google Lighthouse to measure before and after.
Use any CDN caching available services.
For example, save the resized image to the cache if you resize an image. This will make future requests to that image faster.
EDGE SEO CMS
Sloth is a code generator and manager for Edge SEO. It has a web interface that makes making and installing changes easier.
This tool can currently perform the following tasks:
- 301 and 302 redirects
- Hreflang into the HTML head
- AB testing
- Modifying/overriding your robots.txt file
- Security headers
The beauty of tools like this is that you don’t need any coding knowledge to use them. Thanks to the user interface, you can manage the changes with a few clicks.
Spark, which also works with Cloudflare Workers, is a similar tool to consider.