Pagination refers to the process of breaking up content into multiple pages or sections for easy navigation and improved user experience. This is often used in cases where the content is lengthy or there are a large number of items to be displayed.
When pagination is used?
The main purpose of pagination is to improve the user experience by making content more manageable and easier to navigate.
Here are some examples of where and when pagination is used:
- Blog posts: when a blog post is long, it can be split into multiple pages to make it easier to read and navigate.
- Product listings: e-commerce websites often use paginated pages to split up their product listings into multiple pages, so that shoppers can find what they are looking for more easily.
- Forums: when forums have a large number of posts, they can be split up into multiple pages to make it easier to find specific information.
- Search results: search engines like Google use pagination to split up search results into multiple pages, so that users can browse through results more easily.
- Comment sections: websites that have a lot of comments on their pages can use pagination to split them up into multiple pages, so that users can find specific comments more easily.
When it comes to SEO, pagination can impact the way search engines like Google crawl and index your website. Google treats pagination as a way to organize content and improve user experience, as long as it’s implemented correctly.
What types of pagination can be used?
Pagination, Load More, and Infinite Scroll are three popular types of pagination that are used on websites to manage and display large amounts of content. Here’s a brief overview of each type.
1. Breaking content into separate pages
This is a common type of pagination that involves breaking up content into separate pages. Users can click on page numbers or use arrow buttons to navigate through the content. Each page typically displays a fixed number of items, and users must click on a new page to see additional items.
2. Load More
Load More is another type of pagination that displays additional content when users click on a “load more” button. This type of pagination can be used to display a continuous stream of content without requiring users to navigate to a new page. As users reach the end of the content, new items are dynamically added to the page.
3. Infinite Scroll
Infinite scroll involves displaying all of your content on a single page and automatically loading additional content as the user scrolls down the page. This approach can create a more seamless user experience, but it can also be challenging for search engines to index your pages effectively. Search engines might not be able to crawl all of your content, which can result in lower visibility in search results.
Each type of pagination has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of which to use depends on the type of content being displayed and the user experience you want to create:
- Breaking content into pages can provide a clear structure for content
- Load More can be used to provide a seamless user experience
- Infinite Scroll can make it easy to consume a lot of content quickly.
Let’s see how to implement SEO-friendly pagination for each of these types.
Breaking content into separate pages
Google easily identifies this type of pagination. As a rule, there’s no problem in treating it correctly. However, it’s important to ensure that search engines understand the structure of your paginated content to avoid duplicate content issues and to help users find the content they’re looking for.
Here are some best practices for SEO specialists to ensure that Google understands that this type of pagination is being used on the website.
Use unique URL for each page
For instance, you can include a ?page=n query parameter to indicate each page number.
Do not refer to the first page as canonical
Use self referencing canonical tags for each page instead of canonicals to the first page of all the category pages.
For page shop.com/dresses?page=2 correct canonical will be
<link rel="canonical" href="shop.com/dresses?page=2" />
Use structured data
To tell Google about pagination, you can use the “Pagination” markup. This markup tells Google that the content is paginated and provides information about the total number of pages in the series, the current page, and the relationship between the pages.
Here’s an example of how to use the “Pagination” markup:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Series"> <span itemprop="name">Article Series Title</span> <link itemprop="url" href="https://example.com/article-series"> <link itemprop="image" href="https://example.com/article-series-thumbnail.jpg"> <div itemprop="hasPart" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/WebPage"> <a itemprop="url" href="https://example.com/article-series/page/1"> <span itemprop="name">Article Series Title - Page 1</span> </a> <meta itemprop="position" content="1"> </div> <div itemprop="hasPart" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/WebPage"> <a itemprop="url" href="https://example.com/article-series/page/2"> <span itemprop="name">Article Series Title - Page 2</span> </a> <meta itemprop="position" content="2"> </div> <!-- Add more pages here --> <meta itemprop="numberOfPages" content="5"> <meta itemprop="pageStart" content="1"> <meta itemprop="pageEnd" content="5"> <meta itemprop="currentPage" content="1"> </div>
Avoid duplicate text
If there are texts on your categories, make sure they are only on the first page of the category.
Rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags
Regarding the use of rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags, Google has stated that it is no longer necessary to use them for most websites. Instead, Google now recommends using a combination of rel=”canonical” and structured data to indicate the relationship between paginated URLs.
Implementing pagination for Load more and Infinite scroll
Google treats pagination with Load more and Infinite scroll as a single page that is dynamically updated as the user scrolls down. Using a single page rather than having different content is easier to manage and allows users to keep scrolling until they finish.
But you should take into account, that this type of pagination can cause problems for SEO specialists, as search engine crawlers may not be able to access all the content on the page. Let’s see what happens.
This type of pagination is usually made by AJAX technology. It’s important to note that using AJAX pagination can affect the crawlability of your website. Google may not be able to discover all of your content if it is hidden behind an AJAX interface, and it may take longer for new content to be indexed. To avoid these issues, ensure that your pagination is implemented correctly and that your content is accessible without using AJAX.
Here is what you should take into account when organizing Load more and Infinite scroll pagination for Google.
Use crawlable links to paginated pages
When talking about AJAX pagination, using crawlable links to paginated pages means that the links should be accessible to search engine bots so that they can follow them and index the content on those pages. This is important because AJAX pagination often loads new content dynamically, which can be difficult for search engine bots to crawl and index.
This is how you can implement crawlable links to paginated page.
Less optimal: shop.com/dresses#1
2. Make sure that each component page has its own unique URL and test that it can be accessed and referenced in a browser, regardless of cookies or user history.
3. Implement replaceState and pushState.
To enable the use of replaceState and pushState on the infinite scroll page, it is at your discretion to decide whether to use one or both, based on the user behavior of your website. However, it is recommended to include pushState, either alone or in combination with replaceState, in the following cases:
When a user action is similar to clicking or turning a page actively.
To provide users with the option to sequentially move backward through the most recently paginated content.
Check Google recommendation for infinite scrolling for better understanding.
Check that all content is accessible
Ensure that all of your website’s content is accessible without using AJAX. This means that the content should be visible in the HTML source code and should be crawlable by search engines. To do this, use the Fetch as Google tool in Google Search Console: this way you can test if Google can crawl and index your content.
Google Search Console URL inspection tool will help you check that all of your content is accessible and that your pagination is implemented correctly.
Use a sitemap file or a Google Merchant Center feed
For e-commerce, utilize a sitemap file or a Google Merchant Center feed to help Google find all of the products on your site.
Implement lazy loading
Lazy loading is a technique that delays the loading of images and other content until the user scrolls down to that point on the page. This can help to speed up the loading time of the page and improve the user experience.
Common mistakes when implementing SEO pagination
When implementing pagination, there are several common SEO mistakes that can cause issues with search engines.
Using “noindex” instead of canonical
According to recent changes in how Google interprets pagination pages, we know that each pagination page is treated by the search engine as a separate page. Using the “noindex” directive on canonical URLs can cause search engines to deindex the pages, which can be harmful for indexing of the content which contains internal links to deeper level pages (product URLs, news articles, etc.).
You can utilize the URL Inspection Tool to determine whether Google has designated a page as the canonical version.
Canonicalization to the 1st page
It’s a common mistake to direct the rel=”canonical” from all paginated results to the root page of the series. By implementing an incorrect canonicalization to the root page, you run the risk of misleading search engines into thinking that you have only a single page of results. This will result in Googlebot not indexing paginated pages that appear further along the chain, nor acknowledging the signals to the content linked from those pages.
It’s important to avoid the detailed content pages from dropping out of the index due to poor SEO pagination handling. Therefore, each page within a paginated series should have a self-referencing canonical, unless you use a View All page.
Using the rel=”canonical” incorrectly can result in Googlebot ignoring your signal.
Pagination via static URL
It’s preferable to use pagination via a parameter rather than a static URL. Although there is no apparent advantage in using one over the other for ranking or crawling purposes, studies have revealed that Googlebot often predicts URL patterns based on dynamic URLs. Consequently, this increases the possibility of prompt discovery.
Server returns 200 for paginated pages that don’t exist
Ensure that any paginated URLs not included in the current series return a 404 HTTP status code.
SEO pagination checklist
We have also included an SEO checklist for optimizing your page.
- Choose the right type of pagination for your website.
- Make sure that each page has a unique URL.
- Use rel=”prev” and rel=”next” tags to signal pagination to Google.
- Do not refer to the first page as canonical: use your own canonical tags for each page.
- Use crawlable links to paginated pages.
- Avoid using noindex tags on paginated pages.
- Ensure that all content is accessible to search engines without using AJAX.
- Use structured data to indicate pagination to search engines.
- Check if your sitemap file includes all the products that your paginated pages have.
- Test and monitor paginated URLs to ensure that it is working correctly and that all content is accessible to search engines.
You can also download this checklist in pfd format.
By following this checklist, you can ensure that your pagination is optimized for SEO and that all of your content is easily accessible to search engines.
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Should I use different title and meta description for paginated pages?It’s not necessary. This is what Google says about it:
“Normally, we recommend that you give web pages distinct titles to help differentiate them. However, pages in a paginated sequence don’t need to follow this recommendation. You can use the same titles and descriptions for all pages in the sequence. Google tries to recognize pages in a sequence and index them accordingly”.
Can pagination hurt SEO?Pagination itself does not typically hurt SEO. However, the way that pagination is implemented can impact SEO positively or negatively.
For example, if pagination is implemented poorly, it can result in duplicate content issues, where search engines may see multiple pages as having the same content. This can result in lower visibility in search results.
Additionally, if pagination is implemented in a way that causes slow page load times, it can negatively impact user experience, which in turn can affect SEO. Users may be less likely to stay on your website or interact with your content if the pagination is slow or difficult to use.
On the other hand, if pagination is implemented correctly, it can be beneficial for SEO. As mentioned earlier, pagination can create unique URLs for each page of content, which can help search engines understand the structure of your website and index your pages more effectively.