5 case studies showing the benefits of server-side rendering

5 case studies showing the benefits of server-side rendering

Choosing between client-side and server-side rendering is an important SEO decision you ideally only make once and with high confidence.

According to Google’s documentation, the rendering method you choose has no implications on organic rankings as long as certain guardrails are met. However, most experts - including myself - prefer SSR (server-side rendering).

What stands in the way of convincing more stakeholders to invest the money and people in SSR is good case studies that show a clear traffic uplift. Without having an idea of the upside, it’s hard to prioritize.

With the help of industry friends, I found a few case studies that show a significant uplift of +35-100% from implementing SSR.

How to make the decision to migrate to server-side rendering

My goal with this Memo is not to explain the technical side of rendering but to help you understand the strategic implications. When it comes to rendering, you have 3 options:

  1. SSR: server-side rendering
  2. CSR: client-side rendering
  3. static rendering

Each of them can work, but the question is which one is optimal. I have a strong preference for SSR should because I’ve seen the benefits multiple times.

If you run your site on a site builder like Webflow, WordPress or Wix, you don’t need to worry about rendering. But if you’ve built a web app on React, Vue, Angular, Ember or another JS framework, you need to evaluate SSR vs. CSR.

I found 3 strategic questions critical:

/1 How big of a problem is CSR?

Google doesn’t make it easy for us to understand whether we have a rendering problem and how big it is. We can compare raw with rendered source code of our site (Barry Adams has a good manual) or seek visual hints from Search Console/Mobile Friendliness Tool (which is going away). But there is no easy-to-understand report - maybe because Google still isn’t as good at executing JS as it wants to be.

Your dev team is able to tell you which components are client-side rendered, but it’s likely you won’t identify problems without an SEO expert or 3rd party tool.

2/ How easy is it to implement SSR?

The second question is about opportunity cost. The feasibility of migrating depends on how many components are client-side rendered, what framework you use and the resources available to you. If the whole site is rendered client-side, it might take 1-2 full-stack or backend engineers 1-3 months to implement SSR.

3/ What is the potential traffic uplift from migrating to SSR?

The biggest question of all is about the potential upside. But the high number of variables (current JS framework, # components, other SEO factors, Google updates, etc.) make the potential traffic uplift so hard to grok.

The biggest variable deciding the impact of SSR is the number of pages on your site. The impact of SSR is much higher for a site with 10,000,000 pages compared to one with 10,000. It scales with size. Why? Internal link modules, like recommenders, are often rendered client-side and make it harder for Google to follow all links. The more pages you have, the more internal links you have. The same is true for content.

SSR case studies

I hope these 5 case studies help you make the decision to migrate to server-side rendering easier.


Parth Suba was so kind to share with me that invideo.io moved to SSR and saw a +35% organic traffic uplift. Prior to mid-2021, pages were rendered client-side, which made it hard for Google to crawl internal links, render content and fetch schema.

The migration had an especially strong effect on /make pages.


Joshua Jarvis was so kind to share that exprealty.com switched to SSR in the spring of 2022, which took the site from 0 non-branded searches to 200k a month.

Exprealty.com organic traffic in ahrefs


Orit Mutznik was so kind to share that Silkfred migrated their pagination from CSR to SSR. This case study was part of her 2020 Brighton SEO talk and is illustrated in depth on the Lumar blog.

The migration finished in May 2019 and shows a considerable increase in organic traffic and top 10 keywords. I estimate the organic traffic uplift to be ~2x. Orit confirmed that organic traffic is in line with the Ahrefs estimate.

Organic traffic and top10 keywords of Invideo's /make pages in ahrefs


Airtable migrated from CSR to SSR in 2021 and saw what looks like a 40-50% traffic uplift, as described in an article by Rachel Church.

Airtable's top10 keywords /make pages in ahrefs

2 Unknown sites

Max Peters was so kind to share this case study of a site that first migrated to CSR (see traffic drop at the beginning of the graph in the screenshot below) and then implemented SSR (red arrow).

Organic clicks and impressions in GSC showing the impact of CSR and SSR

Matt Kay was so kind to share a case study with me about a site that installed prerender.io in August 2021 and saw an estimated 2x lift in organic traffic. Before Prerender, Googlebot wasn’t crawling anything and only indexed a few pages. Nothing else in terms of SEO was done on the site, which makes the case especially interesting.

Organic traffic growth after installing Prerender.io

Rendering is a matter of tradeoffs, and SSR is likely your best choice

It’s likely that some experts with more technical skills read this Memo and say, “CSR is no problem as long as you do {insert complicated workaround here}!” I get it. You can make CSR work. But making it work is very different from operating on a JS framework that has minimal technical dependencies and risks. Especially when SEO drives the majority of new business, SSR is the lowest risk, highest upside choice in my professional opinion.