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SEO Settings for rel=prev and rel=next

Sites often tend to paginate their content into several, smaller logical chunks that make it easier for readers to navigate through and kee...

SEO Settings for rel=prev and rel=next

Sites often tend to paginate their content into several, smaller logical chunks that make it easier for readers to navigate through and keep track of. You can often see this type of thing in in-depth product reviews, where there are different sections divided into different pages. Similarly, news and other such publishing sites often tend to divide a very long article into several smaller chunks. Discussion forums also often break threads into sequential URLs. People have often asked us about how to handle such type of Pagination from a SEO point of view, because you want search engines to be able to associate all the related 'pages' together. Well, today, we'll tell you about the correct SEO Settings to paginate large content on your site.

When paginating, you can do two things to help search engines understand your content structure. You could either specify a view all page, or you could use rel="prev" and rel="next" to describe the associativity.

A View-all Page

You can create two versions of your content. One View-all page, which has all of the content on the same page. Some readers prefer this, since it doesn't require additional page loads. Google tries to show this page in search results. However, you can also create paginated version of the same content, and then use rel="canonical" on each component page, pointing to that View-all page, so as to avoid content duplication.

Check out the following post to find out more about using rel="canonical"

Using rel="prev" and rel="next"

You can use the next and prev attributes in HTML links, so as to describe the relation between two page. For example, suppose your content is broken up into three separate pages.

  • example.com/part1.html

  • example.com/part2.html

  • example.com/part3.html

Now, on the first page, you simply need to define a "next" page only, since there's no "prev" page. Similarly, for the last page, there's no "next" page; only a "prev" page.

  • For the first page, you can simply add a link to the next page using the <link> tag inside the <head> tag.

    <link rel="next" href="http://example.com/part2.html">

  • Similarly, the last page (part3) needs a link tag in its <head> section as follows

    <link rel="prev" href="http://example.com/part2.html">

  • Since all the middle parts have both previous and next counterparts, you need to include two links in such parts.

    <link rel="prev" href="http://example.com/part1.html">

    <link rel="next" href="http://example.com/part3.html">

Things to remember

The rel="prev" and rel="next" attributes are just hints to Google. They're not absolute directives. Meaning that they don't define the content or anything. They just tell Google what comes before and after this content.

URL parameters that don't change a page's content should also be included in the prev and next links. Examples of such parameters include session IDs, tracking number etc. Suppose you have a page example.com/article?page=2&id=123. It should contain the following link tags.

  • <link rel="prev" href="http://example.com/article?page=1&id=123">

  • <link rel="next" href="http://example.com/article?page=3&id=123">

Google itself does a very good job of recognizing such content. So even if you make a mistake with the prev and next attributes, it'll continue to index your pages, and rely on its own heuristics to understand the content. So you needn't worry about getting it wrong. But just make sure you don't make a mistake while using rel="canonical" (discussed above). Otherwise, you should be fine. Cheers :)



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Experience Lab - Online business creation and development guide for bloggers and startups: SEO Settings for rel=prev and rel=next
SEO Settings for rel=prev and rel=next
Experience Lab - Online business creation and development guide for bloggers and startups
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