advert2013 advert2013 - 19 days ago 9
AngularJS Question

AngularJS SEO for static webpages (S3 CDN)

I've been looking into ways to improve SEO for angularJS apps that are hosted on a CDN like Amazon S3 (i.e. simple storage with no backend). Most of the solutions out there, PhantomJS,, seo.js etc., rely on a backend to recognise the

url that the crawler generates and then fetch the relevant page from elsewhere. Even grunt-html-snapshot ultimately needs you to do this, even though you generate the snapshot pages ahead of time.

This solution is basically relying on using cloudflare as a reverse proxy, which seems a bit of a waste given that most of the security apparatus etc. that their service provides is totally redundant for a static site. Setting up a reverse proxy myself as suggested here also seems problematic given that it would require either i) routing all AngularJS apps I need static html for through one proxy server which would potentially hamper performance or ii) setting up a separate proxy server for each app, at which point I may as well set up a backend, which isn't affordable at the scale I am working.

Is there anyway of doing this, or are statically hosted AngularJS apps with great SEO basically impossible until google updates their crawlers?

Reposted on webmasters following John Conde's comments.


Here is a full overview of how to make your app SEO-friendly on a storage service such as S3, with nice urls (no #) and everything with grunt with the simple command to be performed after build:

grunt seo

It's still a puzzle of workarounds, but it's working and it's the best you can do. Thank you to @ericluwj and his blogpost who inspired me.


The goal & url structure

The goal is to create 1 html file per state in your angular app. The only major assumption is that you remove the '#' from your url by using html5history (which you should do !) and that all your paths are absolute or using angular states. There are plenty of posts explaining how to do so.

Urls end with a trailing slash like this

Personally I made sure that (no trailing slash) also reaches its destination, but that's off topic here. I also made sure that every language has a different state and a different url.

The SEO logic

Our goal is that when someone reaches your website through an http request:

  • If it's a search engine crawler: keep him on the page which contains the required html. The page also contains angular logic (eg to start your app) but the crawler cannot read that so he is intentionally stuck with the html you served him and will index that.
  • For normal humans and intelligent machines : make sure angular gets activated, erases the generated html and starts your app normally

The grunt tasks

Here we go with the grunt tasks:

  //grunt plugins you will need:

  //The grunt tasks in the right order
  grunt.registerTask('seo', 'First launch server, then prerender and replace', function (target) {[
      'concurrent:seo' //Step 1: in parrallel launch server, then perform so-called seotasks

  grunt.registerTask('seotasks', [
    'http', //This is an API call to get all pages on my website. Skipping this step in this tutorial.
    'wait', // wait 1.5 sec to make sure that server is launched
    'prerender', //Step 2: create a snapshot of your website
    'replace', //Step 3: clean the mess
    'sitemap', //Create a sitemap of your production environment
    'aws_s3:dev' //Step 4: upload

Step 1: Launch local server with concurrent:seo

We first need to launch a local server (like grunt serve) so that we can take snapshots of our website.

//grunt config
concurrent: {
  seo: [
    'connect:dist:keepalive', //Launching a server and keeping it alive
    'seotasks' //now that we have a running server we can launch the SEO tasks

Step 2: Create a snapshot of your website with grunt prerender

The grunt-prerender plugins allows you to take a snapshot of any website using PhantomJS. In our case we want to take a snapshot of all pages of the localhost website we just launched.

//grunt config
prerender: {
  options: {
    sitePath: 'http://localhost:9001', //points to the url of the server you just launched. You can also make it point to your production website.
    //As you can see the source urls allow for multiple languages provided you have different states for different languages (see note below for that)
    urls: ['/', '/projects/', '/portal/','/en/', '/projects/en/', '/portal/en/','/fr/', '/projects/fr/', '/portal/fr/'],//this var can be dynamically updated, which is done in my case in the callback of the http task
    hashed: true,
    dest: 'dist/SEO/',//where your static html files will be stored
    interval:5000, //taking a snapshot of how the page looks like after 5 seconds.
    limit:7 //# pages processed simultaneously 

Step 3: Clean the mess with grunt replace

If you open you open the pre-rendered files, they will work for crawlers, but not for humans. For humans using chrome, your directives will load twice. Therefore you need to redirect intelligent browsers to your home page before angular gets activated (i.e., right after head).

//Add the script tag to redirect if we're not a search bot
replace: {
  dist: {
    options: {
      patterns: [
          match: '<head>',
          //redirect to a clean page if not a bot (to your index.html at the root basically).
          replacement: '<head><script>if(!/bot|googlebot|crawler|spider|robot|crawling/i.test(navigator.userAgent)) { document.location = "/#" + window.location.pathname; }</script>'
          //note: your hashbang (#) will still work.
      usePrefix: false
    files: [
      {expand: true, flatten: false, src: ['dist/SEO/*/**/*.html'], dest: ''} 

Also make sure you have this code in your index.html on your ui-view element, which clears all the generated html directives BEFORE angular starts.

<div ui-view autoscroll="true" id="ui-view"></div>

<!-- this script is needed to clear ui-view BEFORE angular starts to remove the static html that has been generated for search engines who cannot read angular -->
  if(!/bot|googlebot|crawler|spider|robot|crawling/i.test( navigator.userAgent)) { document.getElementById('ui-view').innerHTML = ""; }

Step 4: Upload to aws

You first upload your dist folder which contains your build. Then you overwrite it with the files you prerendered and updated.

aws_s3: {
  options: {
    accessKeyId: "<%= aws.accessKeyId %>", // Use the variables
    secretAccessKey: "<%= aws.secret %>", // You can also use env variables
    region: 'eu-west-1',
    uploadConcurrency: 5, // 5 simultaneous uploads
  dev: {
    options: {
      bucket: 'xxxxxxxx'
    files: [
      {expand: true, cwd: 'dist/', src: ['**'], exclude: 'SEO/**', dest: '', differential: true},
      {expand: true, cwd: 'dist/SEO/', src: ['**'], dest: '', differential: true},

That's it, you have your solution ! Both humans and bots will be able to read your web-app