‘Pagination’ is an element that will have confused many people over the years and knowing what’s best can be difficult. Well, Tom Williams is here to fill in the blanks and provide all the essential information needed when implementing pagination.

What is Pagination?

‘Pagination’ is the procedure of separating a document into separate pages, whether electronic or printed.

Many websites (mainly ecommerce) display a large variety of products and to promote them effectively, it is necessary to divide them into multiple pages. This is where pagination comes into play.

Pagination 1

There are many different formats of pagination:

  • Article Pagination – Where an article spans across more than one page
  • Gallery Pagination – When each entry in a gallery has its own page
  • Forum Pagination – Forum threads can also span across more than one page
  • Category Pagination – When listings span across more than one page, in the form of products and anything else than can be categorised
  • Infinite Scroll Pagination – Where content is pre-fetched from the following page and added directly to the user’s current page as they scroll down the page

Potential Issues Caused by Pagination

When implementing pagination, there are various issues to be taken into consideration. Here’s a breakdown of these.

Crawl Hog

Google will crawl all paginated pages if allowed. However, the crawler bandwidth can have its limitations. The crawler may get tied up in paginated pages rather than crawling the most important pages on a website, especially if the pagination pages don’t add any value over page one. Increasing the number of items per page can decrease the depth of pagination, an ideal solution here.

Page Rank Dilution 

Incorrect implementation of the code has the potential to dilute page rank across the paginated pages which will also prevent link juice transferring to pages that they link to.

Duplication

Paginated pages are susceptible to duplication. Placing the relevant code on the paginated pages correctly will ensure search engines know that they are pagination pages and will not be seen as duplicates.

Meta titles and descriptions on paginated pages can easily be forgotten and this can also cause duplication issues. It is recommended that meta data on each paginated version is unique. This could be achieved by simply adding something similar to ‘– Page 2’ on the end.

Thin Content

Paginated pages generally have a small amount of quality content on them. This opens them to scrutiny from the Panda algorithm. However, Google has provided ways that a webmaster can indicate that they are paginated pages.

Best Practice Pagination Implementation

Put simply, there are three options when deciding how to implement pagination:

  1. Do nothing! Leave whatever pagination you currently have exactly as it is. Google say they will always strive to provide searchers the best result regardless of how a website’s pagination is structured.
  1. If you have a view-all page and want this to be indexed over the component pages, there are guidelines provided by Google on how to do this effectively.

Google will aim to detect a view all page and its associated pages regardless of how your site is structured but there is something that can be done to aid this process.

To make it clearer for Google, you can include rel=”canonical” tags on the paginated pages pointing to the view all page.

Pagination 2

  1. The third option is to provide Google with a hint so they understand the relationship between the component pages within the series by using rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags. This allows Google to serve users the most relevant page, usually the first in the series.

This option requires code to be added within the <head> section of the series of paginated pages. Let’s say your pagination is structured like this:

http://www.example.com /home-and-furniture/bedding/bed-sheets?page=1

http://www.example.com /home-and-furniture/bedding/bed-sheets?page=2

http://www.example.com /home-and-furniture/bedding/bed-sheets?page=3

The first page only needs one tag which is the rel=”next”:

<link rel=”next” href=” http://www.example.com /home-and-furniture/bedding/bed-sheets?page=2” />

The second page and following pages need to include both a rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tag:

<link rel=”prev” href=” http://www.example.com /home-and-furniture/bedding/bed-sheets?page=1” />

<link rel=”next” href=” http://www.example.com /home-and-furniture/bedding/bed-sheets?page=3” />

And so on until you reach the last page which only needs a rel=”prev” tag.

Rel=”prev” and rel=”next” are only hints to Google and not directives but they will generally pick these up and follow them.

Other Things to Consider

  • If your pagination is driven by JavaScript (infinite scroll), you should ensure users can still access the paginated pages even when JavaScript is disabled. If this functionality is not enabled, crawlers are not able to access the paginated pages which may result in these pages not getting indexed.
  • Endless pagination is a huge concern and can create an infinite website! The last page within a series of paginated pages should not include a rel=”next” tag. This sounds really obvious, but it’s a common issue that we’ve come across many times. Along with creating an infinite site, it also means the crawler gets bogged down on the endless paginated pages.
  • Generally, only the first URL in a paginated series using rel=“next” and rel=“prev” tags should be included within your sitemaps.

Did you find this page useful?

Comments

About the author:

Tom joined ClickThrough in 2011. Since then, he has developed an expertise in the technical side of search engine optimisation. He’s Google Analytics-qualified, and in his current role as digital and technical Executive, carries out monthly SEO activities and provides technical consultancy for several of the company’s largest accounts.