As your website expands, the likelihood of needing to paginate certain sections increases. However, this can potentially lead to numerous SEO challenges.
While pagination can be implemented effectively without adversely affecting SEO, improper implementation can result in significant issues.
This article will address:
- Techniques for establishing SEO-friendly pagination
- Necessary steps to ensure proper implementation
Let’s begin with a review of Pagination in SEO and why pagination is preferable over infinite scroll.
In SEO, what does pagination entail?
Pagination in SEO involves arranging pages, often containing similar content, into a consecutive sequence. This organization typically employs numbered buttons or links, facilitating user navigation through a content repository.
Pagination is frequently observed on blog archive pages and e-commerce category pages.
For instance, on our blog, we utilize numbered buttons, enabling users to navigate through our assortment of articles by simply clicking on them.
Negative Impact of Pagination on SEO!
Many sources suggest that pagination adversely affects SEO.
However, this perception often stems from mishandled pagination rather than its mere existence. Let’s explore the perceived drawbacks of pagination and strategies to mitigate the potential SEO challenges it presents.
a. Pagination Leads to Duplicate Content
This is true when pagination is implemented incorrectly, such as having both a “View All” page and paginated pages without proper rel=canonical tags or when a page=1 duplicate is created alongside the root page.
However, when pagination is SEO-friendly, where despite similar H1 and meta tags, the page content varies, it does not constitute duplication.
b. Pagination Results in Thin Content
This assertion holds merit when content, like articles or photo galleries, is divided across multiple pages primarily to boost ad revenue by increasing pageviews, resulting in insufficient content on each page.
Conversely, prioritizing user experience by ensuring a reasonable amount of content per page, rather than solely focusing on banner ad revenues or inflated pageviews, negates this concern.
c. Pagination Dilutes Ranking Signals
Pagination does indeed fragment internal link equity and other ranking signals, such as backlinks and social shares, across pages.
To mitigate this, pagination should only be utilized when a single-page content approach would compromise user experience, such as on e-commerce category pages.
Additionally, maximizing the number of items per page without significantly slowing down the page helps reduce the need for pagination.
d. Pagination Consumes Crawl Budget
This holds if paginated pages are allowed to be crawled by Google, which may be necessary in certain cases, such as when Googlebot needs to access deeper content pages via paginated URLs.
However, in scenarios where conserving the crawl budget for more critical pages is desired, setting pagination parameter handling in Google Search Console to “Do not crawl” or implementing a robots.txt disallow directive can be effective measures.
So, what approach should we take for pagination?
If we aim to have paginated URLs and ensure that the content on those pages is crawled and indexed, there are several crucial guidelines to adhere to:
- Utilize href anchor links for linking between multiple pages. Google does not scroll or click, which may cause issues with functionalities like “load more” or infinite scroll.
- Ensure each page possesses a unique URL, such as category/page-2, category/page-3, and so forth.
- Implement a self-referencing canonical tag for each page in the sequence. For instance, on /category/page-2, the canonical tag should point to /category/page-2.
- Keep all pagination URLs indexable.
- Avoid using a no-index tag to facilitate search engine crawling and indexing of the paginated URLs and enhance the discoverability of the products featured on those pages.
- Although rel=next/prev markup was previously used to denote the relationship between paginated pages, Google ceased its support for this in 2019. If this markup is already in place, it should be retained, but implementing it is unnecessary if it is absent.
- In addition to linking to the subsequent pages in the sequence, it is advisable to also provide a link to the final page in the pagination.
- This offers Googlebot a direct path to the deepest page in the sequence, minimizing click depth and enabling more effective crawling.
- Ensure that the default sorting option on a category page of products is by best selling or your preferred priority order to prevent the best-selling products from appearing on deeper pages, which could adversely affect their organic performance.
- Paginated URLs can rank in search results, even though the main page is preferred for better user experience (UX) and superior content or products.
To mitigate this issue, it’s essential to indicate the priority page and “de-optimize” the paginated pages:
- Limit the category page content solely to the first page in the sequence.
- Dynamically include the page number at the start of the meta titles.
- Incorporate the page number in the H1 headings.
Common pagination SEO mistakes
- Pagination errors in SEO are quite common and can lead to technical issues.
- One prevalent mistake involves the incorrect utilization of rel next/prev tags.
- If pagination is utilized on your website, it’s essential to ensure the proper implementation of rel next/prev tags to facilitate smooth crawling and indexing by search engines.
- Failure to do so may result in challenges for search engine bots when navigating through your content.
- Another frequent error is the misconfiguration of canonical URLs.
- Canonical URLs play a crucial role in mitigating duplicate content concerns.
- If not configured accurately, pagination issues may arise.
- A third common oversight is the inadequate establishment of site architecture.
- This oversight can impede search engine bots from effectively crawling and indexing your content.
- Issues such as duplicate meta tags, SEO titles, meta descriptions, and excessive HTML headings can further exacerbate the problem.
- Often, linked pages are incorrectly rendered as HTML headlines (e.g., H2), compounding the issue.
Google’s Approach to Pagination
To comprehend this, let’s examine Google’s original approach to handling rel=prev and rel=next link elements.
Google officially endorsed these two elements in 2011 as a means for the crawler to grasp the connection between paginated pages.
Incorporating these tags into the page’s code assisted Google in discerning which pages formed part of the pagination sequence and determining which page to display in search results for the most pertinent searches.
However, things have changed since then. Recently, the search engine declared its decision to discontinue support for both link elements as indexing signals. The official documentation for both link elements now includes this notification.
So, how does Google manage pagination now?
During one of the Google Webmaster Office-hours Hangouts last year, John Mueller provided a straightforward explanation:
“We don’t treat pagination differently. We treat them as normal pages.”
This implies that all paginated pages are treated akin to any standard, individual, and unique page in the search engine’s index.
Having stated that I observed recently that Google still acknowledges both link elements. During a recent site migration project, the client inadvertently omitted both the Rel=next and Prev tags.
Following the migration, Google commenced indexing paginated pages. Interestingly, this was not the case when the Rel=next and Prev Tag were present.
Quick TIP: Despite the changes to rel=prev and rel=next link elements support, retaining them in the code will not adversely affect your SEO.
Pagination or infinite scroll?
There are two perspectives regarding content presentation: pagination and infinite scroll. Pagination involves dividing content into separate pages, while infinite scroll, a newer approach, continuously loads new content as users scroll down.
So, which option is more beneficial for SEO?
Unfortunately, the answer varies depending on factors such as your website type and the nature of your content.
For instance, if you operate a blog or a news site, pagination is likely the preferable choice. Users visiting such sites typically seek specific pieces of content and prefer easy navigation to find them quickly.
Conversely, if you manage an e-commerce platform, infinite scroll may be more suitable. E-commerce site visitors often engage in browsing through a large volume of content and are less concerned with finding specific information. However, it’s worth noting that infinite scroll pages can sometimes lead to slower page loading times.
Ultimately, it’s crucial to experiment with both pagination and infinite scroll to determine what best suits your website and audience. There’s no universal solution when it comes to pagination in SEO.
When executed effectively, pagination can bolster rather than hinder your SEO endeavors.
Although the infinite scroll feature enhances user experience, it does not align well with SEO efforts. Primarily due to crawlers’ inability to index an entire infinite scroll page or activate “load more” buttons. Improper canonical tags on paginated pages can lead to duplicate content problems.
To prevent any SEO complications with pagination, ensure the inclusion of self-referencing canonical tags on every paginated page, utilize crawlable anchor links, and optimize the meta-tags of paginated pages.
Frequently Asked Questions
a. How may non-indexable pagination be fixed?
By changing the canonical tag to refer to the original content that you wish to index. You may resolve the problem where paginated pages aren’t getting indexed because of redundant canonical tags.
b. Is indexing of paginated URLs necessary?
Our team advises indexing any significant paginated pages that assist people or bots in finding original information. Advice: Ensure that Google has indexed all of the key paginated pages. To find out if Google has designated a page as the canonical version, use the URL Inspection Tool.
c. Pagination: Does it hurt SEO?
Pagination may help with SEO and not damage it if done correctly. Although it is more user-friendly, the endless scroll option is not very helpful for SEO. This is mostly due to the fact that crawlers are unable to click “load more” buttons or index an endless scroll page.