Google Doesn’t Support rel=next/prev. What to Do with Paginated Content Then?

One day you peacefully wake up in your bed, stretch a little bit, get your phone to check what’s going on in the world just to find out that rel=”next/prev” doesn’t work anymore… Frustrating, right?

That was one of my mornings, and it was not fun.

What rel=next/prev Used to Do

Rel=”next/prev” helped Google understand that a set of pages on a website are a paginated sequence of URLs and thus should not be treated as thin or duplicate content.

What Hapenned

SEO community noticed that rel=”prev/next” documentation had disappeared from Google help. People started seeking confirmation and more insights from Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller.

My first guess was that Google had already stopped using this tag some time ago and removing documentation was part of spring cleaning. And you know what? That gut feeling was 100% correct:

Now, when the dust has settled, I can view the picture in a much clearer way.

The thing is that rel=”prev/next” didn’t stop working that day. So basically nothing has changed for SEOs significantly. A month ago Google handled paginated content the same way as it handles it now after the announcement. The main difference is that now we know about it.

How to Handle Pagination Without rel=prev/next

First of all, there’s no need to remove these tags from your pages as other search engines like Bing still support them. Leaving rel=”prev/next” in place won’t hurt your website.

Secondly, having paginated content is fine as long as each page makes sense on its own.

Here’s a reply from John Mueller he left on Reddit:

No need to change anything in your pagination. If it’s worked for you in the last years, it’ll continue to work like that. Not supporting link-rel-next/prev doesn’t mean you need to remove pagination. Pagination existed before, and it’ll continue to exist going forward.

Pagination for E-commerce Stores

The above rule is applicable to online shops too: there’s nothing to change if your current implementation works properly.

So don’t create ‘View All’ pages with 4578 products, they’ll take ages to load.

Improve your traffic and revenue from SEO within 60 days!

Pagination on Blogs

There may be different uses of pagination on blogs.

A post broken into multiple pages

Having a blog post broken into multiple pages is not a good idea. It’s much better to keep it on a strong single page than dilute its value. After all, pagination wasn’t designed for that.

Pages listing posts

If you have paginated URLs with blog posts like I do here on MarketingSyrup, it’s totally fine to have all these pages indexed. They are not thin or duplicate as each page lists different posts.

Moreover, by having all pages indexed, you make sure that Googlebot sees and follows links to your old posts. Otherwise, they would be buried under new content.

Final Bricks

I’d say that though we’ve received lots of feedback from Google on rel=”prev/next’, it still feels we’re missing something and new data might appear.

Let’s see what happens next. Meanwhile, you can smile as these tweets are funny (and of course my judgement is not influenced by the fact that one of the tweets is mine 😀 ).

By the way, I regularly cover Google Webmaster Hangouts, so sign up to get only most distilled info and valuable tips!

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