What is the best SEO practice for paginated pages?
Are you making this very common technical SEO mistake? Believe it or not – most of the sites mess this up.
❌ They use canonical tags to paginate series. Why is it wrong? Let’s break it down:
The content shown on pages 1, 2, 3, and so on of search results will all display different content to some degree.
When you use canonical tags incorrectly, you’re essentially telling to Google that page 10 (or 11, or 12) is the same as page 1.
That’s far from accurate. Even if these pages have some similar elements, they will ultimately be different in the eyes of Google (and the user).
✅ How do we address this issue from an SEO perspective? Very simply, the best practice for paginated pages is the following – implement NOINDEX tags.
Is t is basically better for these pages not to be indexed at all than to let them be indexed by Google and mark them as “same/similar/duplicate”?
When you use a NOINDEX tag, you’re telling search engines not to index the page, which can lead to your site not being fully crawled and indexed. This can result in lower visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs), as search engines may not be able to access and understand all your content.
However, there are circumstances where even NOINDEX tags may not be the ideal solution. Consider highly content-rich websites (some media houses use the search queries to be indexed and thus visible for search engines, also some search engines allow Google to index all their search queries to increase traffic and revenue) or some e-shops use it in cases, where people heavily use search and write down specific search terms (slang, typos) which are still relevant to your products/categories and you still have something to offer them (if their servers can handle that).
In such instances, the use of NOINDEX tags on paginated pages could potentially obscure valuable content from search engine visibility. This is because NOINDEX tags instruct search engines not to index these pages, which can inadvertently limit the accessibility of your content for users who are searching for specific terms or topics that might be present on these non-indexed pages. As such, for content-rich sites, it becomes essential to strike a balance between maintaining SEO best practices and ensuring all valuable content remains visible and accessible to users via search engines.
The last known best practice for handling paginated series from an SEO perspective is to use rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags. These tags help search engines understand the relationship between different pages in a series.
The rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags indicate to Google that the pages are part of a larger set. This is a more effective way to manage paginated content because it allows Google to understand the context of the pages and can lead to better crawling and indexing of your site.
However, a cutoff in September 2021, Google stated that it no longer uses rel=”next” and rel=”prev” link elements for indexing purposes. While they are still often recommended, their effectiveness might have changed.
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