Pagination and SEO

By | August 13, 2019


MAILE OHYE: Hi. I’m Maile Ohye. I’ve been at Google now for over
six years, working with Search and with Webmaster
Tools. I’d like to welcome
you to my home. Let’s chat about pagination
and SEO. For today’s agenda, we’ll
first start with some paginated content examples. Then we’ll get into some of the
negative side effects of pagination and why you as a
webmaster might want to make some effort as to not dilute
your indexing properties and to show better results
to users. Then we’ll cover your
configuration. And this comes in two parts– for those of you webmasters with
paginated content and a view-all page available, and
then for those of you webmasters that have paginated
content but without a view-all page. So there’s going to be two types
of configurations there. Then we’re going to step back
a little bit and talk about what Google is doing to help
users with paginated content and webmasters as well. And then last, given your
configuration, whether you have a view-all page available
or you have no view-all page available, we’ll look at the
options that you have for your paginated content. So let’s go ahead and
start with some paginated content examples. Paginated content exists
throughout the web, and I’m going to cover two of
those common cases. One is a paginated article. So let’s say you go to your
favorite content site, and you see the breaking news story. “New studies prove that cookies
are superior nutrition to vegetables.” And that would
be quite the story. But your favorite site might not
put this all on one page, but instead, paginate it into
several component pages. Now this one article has become
three, and this is an example of paginated
content articles. Another example of pagination
is for things like a product category, like what you would
see on your favorite e-commerce site. So let’s say this webmaster
is selling shapes. They’re selling six
types of shapes. But rather than have it all on
one page, they have divided it into two component pages, both
of them with shapes, creating pagination again. So two common ways are with
paginated content articles and with paginated product
categories. Now, what are some of the
negative side effects of this? Well, there’s a couple. So I’d like to highlight two,
the first being that indexing properties, like links and
anchor text, can be diluted into the different component
URLs rather than being consolidated to the
one article or to the one product category. So that’s one of the negative
side effects. The other is that the most
relevant page in the series might not be reflected
in search results. So if you’re the webmaster for
this e-commerce site, you might want users to be sent to
page one, say, of your series. But because search engines see
this pagination as three separate entities, searchers
might be sent to a different page that might not be
the most relevant. So those are a few of the
negative side effects of pagination. Now let’s talk more about
your situation and the configuration you have
on your site. We’re going to look at this in
terms of two different types configurations. One is with a view-all page
available, and the other is with no view-all
page available. Now, if your site has paginated
content with a view-all page available, there
are a couple of things you want to make sure
you test for. One is make sure that you have
still decent latency on your site meaning that, if a user
clicks on the view-all version, that it doesn’t take
them 15 seconds to load because it’s such a
long article, or it’s so many products. But that they still have
a good experience– say, the page only takes
four seconds to load. The second thing to check for
if you have a view-all page available is to make sure that
the page remains easily navigable, meaning that users
can still find the content that they want or the particular
product that they want by easily scrolling
or viewing headings. So that’s the configuration of
a view-all page available. And then obviously, without a
view-all page available, it’s fairly straightforward. So think about your site in
terms of configuration you have. But before we go there,
let’s take a step back and talk a little bit about
what Google is doing. We’re, of course, always
working to improve the experience for searchers. And one thing that we found
through testing is that our searchers prefer seeing the
view-all page in their search results opposed to an individual
component page. And one reason for this might
be because of latency. So if you take search results
and you click on a result to a view-all page, while that might
take, say, three seconds to load that article that new
studies prove that cookies are superior nutrition to
vegetables, that might be three seconds. But on the other hand, searchers
were less happy when search results took them to just
page one of the article. While that might have just had
two seconds of latency and then the page loaded, every time
that user wanted to click Next to read more of the
article, it caused some additional load time. So because of this latency and
other reasons, searches prefer the view-all page. So given this knowledge, one of
our engineers on indexing, Benjia Li, actually came
out with a new feature in October of 2011. This is– “When we detect that a paginated
series also contains a view-all version, we’re now
making a larger effort to return the view-all page
in search results when appropriate.” So that’s
great for searchers. And what’s even better for
webmasters is that while we detect this view-all page, we’ll
also still consolidate indexing properties, like links,
to the view-all page. So again, this is good for
searchers and good for you as webmasters for all that indexing
consolidation. Now, let’s talk about some of
the options that you have as a webmaster with paginated
content. We’re first going to look at the
situation where webmasters have paginated the content and
a view-all page available. But for those of you that have
no view-all page available, it’s still good if you pay
attention because some of these options will apply
to you as well. So you have a site with
paginated content and a view-all page, you have
three good options. First, you can leave as is. There’s nothing that you have
to do if you have other priorities on your site. Paginated content exists
throughout the web, and search engines will continue
to do an even better job of handling it. And as I mentioned earlier, if
you have a view-all page available, Google will
automatically try to detect that, send searchers there, as
well as consolidate your indexing properties. So option one is a very
solid option. But you also have
a second option. The second option is to actually
use rel=”canonical” to explicitly hint to Google
what is your view-all page. So while we try to detect it
algorithmically, you can also tell us by writing
rel=”canonical” on your component pages to your
view-all version. And this is kind of a more
explicit hint to us about how your site is configured. With the rel=”canonical,” as
many of you already know, we’ll of course consolidate the
indexing properties from the component pages with
the canonical version. So things like links will
also be transferred. And then, of course,
we’ll send users to the view-all page. So that’s option number two. The last option is actually done
by two of our engineers, Joachim and Benjia. And what this is is using the
standard HTML markup of rel=”next” and rel=”prev” on
the component pages in your series to signal to Google
that these are individual pages, but they all belong
to one series. So by adding this rel=”next”
and rel=”prev” markup, you connect these individual
components into one. You can do this by adding
rel=”next” to page one and then rel=”prev” and rel=”next”
to page two, all the way to the last page, which only
includes a rel=”prev”. And then, of course,
on your view-all page, nothing is needed. rel=”next” and rel=”prev” is
standard HTML markup, and it’s been around for years. But now, Google is using this
markup for webmasters to let us know about their
paginated content. So let me explain some
ways that rel=”next” and rel=”prev” work. With rel=”next” and rel=”prev,”
much like you see with something like
rel=”canonical,” we’ll actually consolidate indexing
properties from the component pages of the series. And in addition, unlike
rel=”canonical” that only shows the view-all page in
search results, with rel=”next” and rel=”prev,” we’re
going to override that behavior and send users
to only one of the component pages. Most likely, this will be page
one, because commonly that’s the most relevant page. So now if you have, say, that
product category, selling shapes, if you use the
rel=”next” and rel=”prev” markup, it’ll tell us
that these two pages belong to one series. And then most commonly, we’ll
send users to page one. Know that rel=”next” and
rel=”prev” is a strong hint. It’s not a mandate
by any means. The last thing I want to say
about rel=”next” and rel=”prev” is that component
URLs in a series should be consistent with their
parameters. So let’s take the article of new
studies prove that cookies are superior nutrition
to vegetables. Now, let’s say that these pages
contain a session ID. All of these values for
rel=”prev” and rel=”next” should also contain
the session ID. And this is because our
indexing team looks to actually link every page in a
series with what was declared previous and what was
declared next. And when they do that, they want
to make sure– say you’re on page two– that the rel=”prev” that
states rel=”prev” is page-1&sid=123, they will
go to that URL. But that URL actually
has to list page two with the same sid. And that’s how we can link every
page in the sequence. So be sure to keep parameters
throughout your entire series. So let’s recap those
three options. If you have a view-all
page available, you can leave as is. You could also explicitly state
rel=”canonical” to your view-all page. Or you can override the view-all
page behavior by adding rel=”next” and
rel=”prev.” By adding rel=”next” and rel=”prev,” you
will help us consolidate component pages in a series. But instead of sending users to
a view-all page, we’ll then send searchers to one component
page., most likely page one of your series. Now, let’s talk about the
configuration with no view-all page available. So for those of you webmasters
that have paginated content and no view-all page, you
have two options. First, of course, you
can leave as is. That’s perfectly fine. And then your second option is
also to use rel=”next” and rel=”prev.” Again, by using
rel=”next” and rel=”prev,” it connects the component pages
in the series, and consolidates indexing
properties, and helps us to send searchers to the most
relevant page, which is likely the first page of the series. Now I’m going to beat you to the
punch and ask one of the most commonly asked questions
about rel=”canonical” as well as rel=”next,” “prev.” And that
is why rel=”next” and rel=”prev” for a paginated
series rather than rel=”canonical” to page one? Ha! I bet you were thinking that. The answer is that
rel=”canonical” is for duplicate content. So let’s take that article. Let’s say page two of
the article, cookies are superior nutrition. If this page actually has a
session ID attached, then it can list as the canonical the
same version, the duplicate conversion, but without
a session ID Because rel=”canonical” is for duplicate
content, or it’s for content which is a superset. So here we have page one, page
two, and page three, all linking to the canonical
version being the view-all version. And that’s perfectly
fine as well. The thing about rel=”canonical”
is that it only indexes content from
the canonical version. So let’s go ahead and
take a look at this. If we have page two and page
three, page two says “cookies are superior nutrition,”
and page three says “to vegetables”. But they both add
rel=”canonical” just to page one. And Google’s index will then
cluster page one, page two, and page three all together. But the only thing that we’ll
have indexed is the content from page one, the canonical
version. So our index will actually
contain “new studies prove that.” And now by using this
rel=”canonical” incorrectly, this webmaster has totally lost
the content “cookies are superior nutrition” and “to
vegetables.” So that’s why rel=”canonical” doesn’t
work in this case. But rel=”next,” “prev”
works for a series or a sequence of content. So let’s take those two
paginated examples again. By using rel=”next” and
rel=”prev,” we’ll actually, in Google’s index, mark
it as a series. But we’ll have page one, page
two, and page three all indexed separately. So in our index, we know page
one refers to “new studies prove that,” page two,
“cookies are superior nutrition,” and page three, “to
vegetables.” And all three pages will be indexed and
marked as one series. So that’s the big difference
between rel=”canonical” and rel=”next” “prev.” So something to note is that
rel=”canonical” can actually be used alongside rel=”next”
“prev.” So let’s take a look at page two again. And this time, it has
a session ID. This URL can actually list both
the canonical version without a session ID as well as
a rel=”prev” and rel=”next” with, of course, the same
parameters, including that session ID. So now let’s recap your new
pagination toolbox. Starting with Google, we have
two new features for you. First, we’re making a better
effort to detect a view-all page, and then send
searchers to that preferred view-all version. The second feature is if you
want to actually even override that behavior. So for those of you with a
view-all page available or without, if you add markup
with rel=”next” and rel=”prev,” it signals to
Google that these are component pages in a series. We’ll then consolidate indexing
properties, and send searchers to the most relevant
page, most likely page one. Now, let’s get into
the types of configurations you have available. So recapping, if you have a
view-all page available, you have three options. You can leave as is. You can use rel=”canonical” on
your component pages, pointing to your view-all page. Or you can override all the
view-all detection by adding rel=”next” and rel=”prev,”
telling us that these component pages belong
to a series. And I’d like you, Google, to
send searchers to the most relevant individual page,
again, likely page one. Now, the other part of the
pagination toolbox is for those of you with no view-all
available, and you have two options. Of course, you can leave
exactly as is. Or again, you can use rel=”next”
and rel=”prev.” This helps you to consolidate
all the component pages into one series and send searchers
to the most relevant page. So the great thing about these
pagination features is that I’ve been at Google long enough
to see the infancy from when the webmaster community was
talking to us about issues with pagination until now when
we have more features available to you. So thank you so much to all of
you for your helpful feedback and for being part of this
webmaster community. For more information on
pagination, here are some links available. And you can, of course, join
us at the Webmaster Central Blog or in the Webmaster
Discussion Forum. Thanks for your time.

54 thoughts on “Pagination and SEO

  1. Domain Millwork Post author

    Thanks Maile. Great explanation and I like the available options.

    Reply
  2. Alan Bleiweiss Post author

    Too many people get this SOOOO wrong! seeing this video up now was like getting a boat-load of ponies, kittens, puppies and unicorns delivered to my doorstep, because I can no refer back to Maile's video whenever they argue with me about canonicals and pagination, instead of saying "Maile even says the methods I'm recommending are best practices!" 🙂

    Reply
  3. Irving Weiss Post author

    Thanks Maile – this is very helpful getting a clear understanding of how Google wants us to treat paginated pages. Would these suggestions also apply for paginated pages that list, for example, lawyers in NYC – there is nothing special about these paginated pages other then more listings of lawyers – Perhaps, the best idea for these paginated pages is a norobots tag that read nofollow, index.

    Reply
  4. geminigeektube Post author

    i wonder why "google search results" don't have a view all pages ? if visitors love "view all" pages so "intense" !

    Reply
  5. Die1101 Post author

    @geminigeektube You can set it up to 100 results per page. You don't want 13,000,000 results in a single page.

    Reply
  6. xcv Post author

    What about the "Load more" buttons using AJAX techniques to fetch more items? Would like to see a video on that.

    Reply
  7. geminigeektube Post author

    @Die1101 do a research before commenting ? "Sorry, Google does not serve more than 1000 results for any query. (You asked for results starting from 1250.)" this what google says when you change the start var to > 1000 !

    Reply
  8. Alexandre Giannelli Post author

    Merci Maile Ohye pour cette excellente (et sympathique) vidéo. Thank's very much for this very useful video !

    Reply
  9. Rajesh Magar Post author

    Thanks Maile Ohye,

    wonderful resources to overcomes pagination & Indexing.

    Reply
  10. Die1101 Post author

    @geminigeektube But you asked for a "View all" feature, not a "View 1000". Even so, 1000 results per page is ridiculous. No regular user would use that, hardly anyone goes beyond the first 10 or 20 results as it is. For non-standard uses, there's the API and other services.

    Reply
  11. Businesses For Sale Austraila - BSALE Post author

    Great Video! Its something i definitely need to have a look at for our site which has multiple listings. In google results i see "Page 5…." "page 6…" for our categories. im guessing its because google is reading each page separately and not as one category. Back to the drawing board.

    Reply
  12. Daniel Marriott Post author

    could this be used to link together similar videos? by using the rel=next and the pointing the href to a similar page so that when users find the original page it will also link that with another page they might be interested in.

    Reply
  13. C Lay Post author

    the only fail in this video is point out to dummyheads like you that if you have a FUCKLOAD of conent, such as google, that a View All isnt a good idea. Because you'll crash the damn internet. ya big goof!

    Reply
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  15. Komang Gede Post author

    Thanks for the information, very useful video

    Reply
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  21. Ercinee Post author

    Well, for one: google doesn't index google search listings I guess. :]

    Reply
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  23. Aidil Khairunsyah Post author

    Anyone tried the MoboRank (do a search on google)? I've heard several unbelivable things about it and my friend improve his website's google ranking with it.

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  24. Don Hinds Post author

    I liked this so send web users back to relevant page
    If not, For me

    Reply
  25. Hexanet Communications Post author

    Because a "view all" page of 150,000 results is obviously beyond "intense" from a page load standpoint and not practical. rel=canonical should not apply to listings beyond 5-10 pages, and is mostly applicable to limited content like e-commerce pagination. And the Google Search does not have rel=prev and rel=next links of it's own either, probably due to the pagination consisting of dynamic links. The scope of this question mostly apply to static links and limited pagination.

    Reply
  26. Kale Post author

    I think you're confusing Google with Microsoft. Windows is made by Microsoft. …but even employees from Microsoft use Mac's.

    Reply
  27. Jake Pranger Post author

    I really enjoyed watching your video on SEO.I'm brand new to this stuff.Where should I start?

    Reply
  28. Sunnyvale SEO Post author

    Will this matter today with all the changes that Google has made, or is this still relavant today

    Reply
  29. Maria Alvarez Post author

    Why on minute 14:24 the following option is not a valid one??

    http://example.com/article?story=x&page=2&sid=123

    <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/article?story=x&page=view_all>
    <link rel=”prev” http://example.com/article?story=x&page=1&sid=123/>
    <link rel=”next” http://example.com/article?story=x&page=3&sid=123/>

    Reply
  30. Majestic Travel With LARRY & UMEKA Post author

    The world of SEO is awesome! I love this strategy for building my business!

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  31. Julian Post author

    Don`t be confuse if you would like to make your website to be the top rank. This site will guide you to construct your site to the top one. Search "speed rank seo" on google.

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  32. Ilyas Zaitsev Post author

    looks like she is mocking. permanent smiling – its annoying.

    Reply
  33. Nicolas Nguyen Post author

    This is the clearest explanation of pagination I've seen. Thank you!

    Reply
  34. Milos Zlatanovic Post author

    What if I have only partially duplicated content?
    My website has pagination where products are changing when you click next page but header (title and desc) of the category stays the same for every page. Google also sees this as duplicate content even though it is only partially duplicated.

    Reply
  35. Manas sri Post author

    my data base is huge , i have tons of pages , what would happen if use view all options……ah it will hang , give me some better option what is good for seo pagination or scroll , think as user not as programmer or designer

    Reply
  36. WhiteChocolateMocha Post author

    pagination is not cool anymore, people are happy to scroll 100 feet long pages

    Reply
  37. levwii Post author

    Great video. I was searching google to find an answer for pagination – only this video from "google" was complete !!
    And yes, i do like you cheerful face. Happy smiling 🙂

    Reply
  38. The J Post author

    If you have component pages and a view-all page, shouldn't you be combining rel="next" and rel="prev" as it should AND (not OR like in the video (10:42)) rel="canonical" linking to the view-all page on each component page? To send searchers to the relevant component page, and give the juice to the canonical view-all page that includes everything from all component pages? Like in 12:28, or will Google not index the component pages, so the only page available in Google for searchers is the view-all page?

    Reply
  39. Chris Dixon Post author

    Thanks, rel prev, rel next is added!! ..now if only my source will render in search as inspected in console.

    Reply
  40. Ashok Yadav Post author

    each page within a paginated series should canonicalize to itself, so /page/2/ has a canonical pointing to /page/2/. Should page 2 etc. be in the google search results? or Not , please confirm

    Reply
  41. Ken Rodriguez Post author

    For these paginated items, what if you have an option to display the number of items per page?
    Say, the total number of items is 17, and the user opted to display 20 items in a page to see all of them in one page. What should I use, canonical or next/prev?

    Reply
  42. Moises Garcia Marquez Post author

    What about offset pagination? Could you give me some hints on how to tackle this specific approach?

    Reply
  43. Giacomo Callegari Post author

    WTF this page returns error 404 https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1663744?hl=it

    Reply
  44. Seb le Frenchie Post author

    Important: this video should be deleted please. It is outdated. Please see the note on https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2011/09/pagination-with-relnext-and-relprev.html for more information, saying "Note: The information in this post is outdated. Rel=prev/next is not an indexing signal anymore."

    Reply

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