Pagination is a widely discussed topic, and can cause considerable problems for online retailers. In this article, you will learn which aspects to take into account when creating a correct pagination.
Pagination is the linking of online content displayed on multiple pages. It make sense to paginate, for example, if an online article is very long, or if many products in an online shop are listed in one category. With sophisticated page numbering, you can structure your content better and have a positive influence on your website’s indexing.
The content of a website is often too long to be displayed at once. This can create various problems and can, for example, have a negative effect on loading time. Structured pagination of content is the answer. When an informational offering is split over several pages, this is referred to as paginated pages (component pages).
Typical uses of pagination include:
In e-commerce, pagination is a must. Anyone who operates an online shop with many items often has problems with duplicate content, usually caused by similar product descriptions that are shown in several categories. The user can also be overwhelmed if they see for example 80 knit sweaters on a website and have to scroll endlessly.
Used correctly, pagination offers a solution for this problem, and simultaneously has a positive effect on the website. Moreover, pagination can improve the ability of the site to be crawled, therefore preserving the crawl budget.
In the past, there were difficulties with pagination regarding search engine optimization, because Google crawls and indexes each component site separately within a pagination. For the searcher, however, usually only the first page is relevant as, if they started reading in the middle, they would miss the most important information. What’s more, ranking is also influenced by pagination. If all of the pages are indexed, each pages ranks for itself. Optimizing the rankings for the first page only is therefore difficult.
Ideally, therefore, page 2 and all further pages should be declared as a further page to Page 1, meaning that the first page will be preferred by search engines. The references in the code need to be correct so that Google does not individually evaluate contents and links. Below, we will show you how you can carry out these adjustments.
Your pagination should above all be user-friendly, because it serves as an orientation in the navigation for the user. The user should always know from which page they are coming from, where they are, where they can go, and how to return to the first page. And all this should be possible with just a few clicks. Structured pagination makes this possible and can also positively influence the click depth as well as the internal linking.
There are many sites online on which users have to navigate with forward and back arrows. This is not friendly for users or search engines. The pages should also be numbered consecutively (“page 1, 2, 3 […]”, so that Google can better understand the pagination and so that the reader can better orient themselves. Ideally, URLs should also be individualized, and should contain the page number on which the user finds themself.
The sequence of the paginated pages should be stored in the markup with the link attributes rel=”prev” (previous site) and rel=”next” (next page). The lines of code must also be entered into the head area of the site. The first and the last pages contain only one attribute. All interim pages contain both link attributes because they refer both to a previous and a subsequent page.
Figure 1: Example for a website with pagination
With the attributes “index” and “follow” in the meta element “robots”, crawlers are also instructed to include the page in the index and follow all existing links. Paginated pages that Google is not supposed to index can be set to “noindex, follow”, starting on page 2.
However, in the case of edited articles, this doesn’t make sense. All of the pages should be indexed so that the paginated sites can appear in the search results for relevant queries, and not just the first page of the article. If, for example, the answer to the user’s search inquiry is on page 3 of a pagination, this will only be shown in the search results if it can be indexed. The following tag can be used if the page should be indexed.
<meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow, noarchive”/>
Different rules apply to e-commerce. Online shops should determine in advance whether product or category sites should rank.
If the website operator only has a few products on offer, the focus should be on the product pages – the pages containing detailed information about the products. Shops with a lot of products which might change frequently should instead focus on category pages. However, usually the content of paginated category pages differs only slightly. Only the displayed products change from page to page, while the contents around the product teaser, such as category descriptions and navigation, remain the same. Thus, in most cases it is sufficient to index only one of the category pages, as the subsequent pages do not offer any added value, and will not rank for other search terms.
Figure 2: Section from a category page with pagination
In the example above, the second and all subsequent component pages can be set to “noindex, follow.” The markup for Asos in the category of “shoes” appears as follows on the first two pages:
<link rel=”next” href=”http://www.asos.com/shoes/page2.htm” />
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.asos.com/shoes/page2.htm” />
<meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” />
<link rel=”prev” href=”http://www.asos.com/shoes.htm” />
<link rel=”next” href=”http://www.asos.com/shoes/page3.htm” />
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow” />
The meta tag “nofollow” cannot be substituted for “noindex”, and is never used for pagination. It prevents crawlers from following the links on the page and therefore blocks the transfer of “Link Juice.”
To avoid possible disadvantages of a pagination, the “View All Page” can be created. This is an individual page on which all of the information and contents of the paginated pages are visible – an article for example
Google prefers to index summary pages because they offer the user the greatest possible benefit compared to the component pages. However, “View All Pages” is only recommended if it can load quickly. A page with too many images and too many large files will increase the loading time, therefore decreasing user experience.
If the article is readable in partial pages, pagination is used again, and a Canonical tag can be inserted into the code of all pages referring to the View All Page.
The View All Pages is not identical with page 1 of the article, and is therefore not a duplicate of page 1. Therefore, the first page of a pagination cannot have a canonical tag. If this rule is improperly used, the canonical tag prevent the contents of the site being crawled. Search engines will also not evaluate links to other products on these sites.
Web presences that change little over time and have little content usually get by without a pagination. In the tips for numbered sites, the Google Support Team reports: “Google is good at delivering the most relevant results to users, independent of whether the content is divided into several pages.”
Online shop operators have a hard time deciding for or against pagination. However, if you follow the tips provided above, if your website is functioning technically perfectly, and if your content is optimized, pagination can offer many advantages.
Practice makes perfect!
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Published on 05/24/2017 by Kathrin Schubert.
Who writes here
Kathrin Schubert studied literature and works as an author and a copywriter. As an extended member of the Ryte family, she supports the editorial department with her acute SEO knowledge. She writes web texts for companies, journalistic articles for magazines and blogs, and has published two biographies. She supports small and medium size enterprises in optimizing their content. Kathrin is also a blogger and holds talks for SEO beginners.Become a guest author »
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