Advanced SEO strategies for headless WordPress sites

Headless WordPress SEO strategies

Opting for a headless WordPress site over a traditional site architecture changes the SEO game quite a bit. This approach separates the site’s front end from its back end, boosting flexibility and speed. But it also brings new SEO challenges.

Here’s the deal: the visibility of your site and how people find you through search engines all hang on your SEO tactics. That’s why we’re covering some advanced SEO strategies made just for headless WordPress setups here today.

We’ll talk about making sure search engines can properly crawl your site, tweaking meta tags, and more. Whether you’re coding the site or crafting marketing strategies, you’ll get practical tips to sharpen your SEO skills.

Let’s get to it.

How to make headless WordPress sites crawlable

Making headless WordPress sites crawlable presents some unique challenges that traditional site setups don’t encounter. The primary hurdle arises from the fact that content in headless sites is rendered client-side using JavaScript, which historically posed difficulties for search engine bots in terms of crawling and indexing.

However, modern techniques like dynamic rendering and server-side rendering have made it a lot easier to address these issues.

Dynamic rendering

Dynamic rendering serves as a bridge between JavaScript-heavy content and search engine crawlers. It involves presenting a pre-rendered, static HTML snapshot of your site’s content to search engines while users continue to experience the dynamic, interactive version.

This ensures that crawlers can index your site’s content without having to execute JavaScript, which immediately improves its visibility and SEO performance.

To implement dynamic rendering in a headless WordPress environment, you’d typically use a solution like or build your own server-side rendering mechanism, possibly with Node.js.

You can use to add server-side rendering.

Here’s a conceptual breakdown:

1. Detecting user agents

You need to differentiate between requests made by users (browsers) and those made by crawlers (like Googlebot). This can be done by checking the user agent in the HTTP headers of incoming requests.

2. Serving static content to bots

When a crawler is detected, instead of serving the usual JavaScript-heavy content, your server redirects the request to a pre-rendered, static HTML version of the requested page. This can be achieved by either using a prerender service or having a pre-rendering setup on your server that generates static HTML pages of your content on the fly or from a cache.

3. How to set it up with WordPress

Services like offer middleware that can be integrated with your server. This middleware intercepts incoming requests, checks if they’re from crawlers, and if so, serves a pre-rendered page from’s cache or triggers a new page render if not cached.

If building a custom solution, you’d typically use Puppeteer in a Node.js environment to pre-render pages. When your WordPress API delivers content to your Node.js server, it checks the user agent. If it’s a crawler, Puppeteer renders the page, saves the static HTML, and serves this version.

This process can be optimized by caching the static pages to avoid rendering them for every crawler request.

Server-side rendering

Server-side rendering, on the other hand, involves rendering the page’s content on the server before it reaches the client. This means that when a search engine bot requests a page, it receives a fully rendered HTML page, making it immediately indexable.

You can implement server-side rendering by using various JavaScript frameworks and libraries, such as React and Node.js, to render content directly on the server. This approach not only aids in making content more accessible to search engines but also improves the overall user experience by speeding up page load times.

For server-side rendering, using frameworks like Next.js in combination with WordPress’s REST API or GraphQL can streamline the process.

A typical setup might involve fetching data with GraphQL and rendering pages on the server using Next.js, effectively pre-populating content before it’s served.