Pagination refers to the linking of online content which is displayed on multiple pages.

Definition and Examples

Pagination is usually required when an article or post is divided into several pages. Typical examples are:

  • Very long texts that are divided into several small parts
  • Photo galleries, as are common in larger online magazines
  • Distribution of products listed in online shops on multiple pages, each containing 10 or 25 articles
  • Long threads in forums that continue on a new page after 20 posts, for example

Problems with regard to search engine optimization

In the past, pagination of a website posed a problem for search engine optimization. Google indexes paginated elements individually. This makes it more difficult to get the most relevant information pertaining to the search request shown on the SERPs. Typically, this would be the first page, since it is difficult to read an article by starting somewhere in the middle or at the end, while missing the most important information at the beginning. What compounds the matter, is that ranking is complicated through pagination because if all pages get indexed individually, each page will also get ranked individually. Thus, the optimization for the ranking of the first page is made difficult.

Relevance to search engine optimization

In September 2011, Google provided information about options to eradicate the disadvantages of pagination. To this end, there are two solutions available.

Solution 1: View all

“View all” is a feature that allows you to view content which is split across several pages on a single page. In many online shops, this is realized, for example, by being able to adjust the number of articles per page. Generally, users and Google alike can utilize a “show all” option. If Google finds such an overall page, it will be preferred in indexing because it provides maximum user benefit. This is only true if it is accompanied by fast loading times.

In this approach, you would need to use the canonical tag when linking the subpages:

<link rel=“canonical“ href=““>

Solution 2: Showing how the pages belong together

If it is impossible to show all pages combined, there is solution no. 2, by showing that the pages belong together through two attributes. In the head section of each page you would need to note with the attributes rel="next" and rel="prev" which page goes before and after the page in question for each page of the article or post. Only the two pages are listed in this case, not all of them. In a series of four parts, this would look as follows:

  • Head section part 1:
<link rel="next" href="">
  • Head section part 2:
<link rel="prev" href="http://www. category-page1.html">
<link rel="next" href="http://www. category-page3.html">
  • Head section part 3:
<link rel="prev" href="http://www. category-page2.html">
<link rel="next" href="http:// www. category-page4.html">
  • Head section part 4:
<link rel="prev" href="http://www. category-page3.html">

How to implement this variation of pagination is specifically explained in this video.

Theoretically, none of these options are mandatory because Google is able to determine the relationship between multiple pages. However, errors can occur and if you want clean indexing of your pages, Google should have some pointers with one of these two options as described above.

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