Google’s has introduced two new link elements to the Webmasters Tools that offer a solution to something webmasters have often found very difficult.
Pagination is a way of making a website, which contains lots of information, more user-friendly in terms of browsing or searching. For example, Nike.com uses pagination by showing 30 or so shoes per page om their site instead of showing hundreds of shoes on one page, making it easier on the user to search.
Where pagination helps at the customer end, it isn’t considered SEO-friendly because many SEO’s feel that pagination can essentially ‘bury’ product pages deeper within the site making them almost impossible to get crawled by the search engines. This can affect the websites over all ranking and webmasters are left questing how to bring this buried content back to the surface of the website in a clean, user and SEO friendly way.
With the introduction of the new elements, there might be some respite for webmasters. Google now shows a clearer picture of the schematic relationship that exists between content that spans multiple pages, to help webmasters better understand how the Googlebot identifies duplicate content and subsequently assigns ranks to the pages.
After reviewing all possibilities Google has come up with the two suggested best practices/new tools for pagination.
- In cases a ‘view all’ page exists, Google will try to identify the page and its “associated component pages” (read: the pages featuring pagination). To assist Google in identifying the pages, it suggests using a canonical link element pointing to the ‘view all’ page on the associated component pages.
- When a ‘view all’ page doesn’t exist, Google suggests using rel=”next” and rel=”prev” elements so that it can identify the proper sequence of paginated pages. From there, Google will try to “send users to the most relevant page/URL from the component pages”.
These changes indicate that Google will now give single-page versions more weight in search results. This idea has been echoed by Benjia Li and Joachim Kupke’s (of Google’s indexing team) in a statement that “user testing has taught us that searchers much prefer the view-all”.
With Google concluding that users generally prefer the view-all option in search results webmasters, publishers must take this is a warning. It might to time to rethink your approach to pagination before Google cracks down on your website.