What is Pagination?
Pagination refers to the practice of showing up a large set of search results (blog posts, products, reviews, comments) into smaller, more manageable portions or subsets and displaying them on separate pages of a website.
For example, if a website has 100 blog posts, it can be displayed on ten different pages, each having ten blog posts. This is done to make the content easier for users to navigate and consume.
Usually, in the case of normal web pages, it is recommended that each individual web page must have a unique title and description to make it different from others. However, in the case of paginated pages, you may ignore this rule.
Google says that if the page is paginated properly, this is enough for Google to understand that all these are connected to one another and there is no need to mention the separate titles and descriptions.
Pagination vs. Load More vs. Infinite Scroll: Which is Better for SEO?
When it comes to implementing pagination, load more, or infinite scroll approach on a website, there isn't a one-size-fits-all.
Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on the specific needs of the website and its content.
Pagination refers to the process of showing up a subset of results, such as a list of products or blog posts into separate pages. This is often done to improve user experience by reducing the amount of data that needs to be loaded and displayed at once.
Load More is a technique that allows users to view more results by clicking a button or link, rather than navigating to a new page. This approach helps keep users engaged with the website and also reduces page load time.
The "Load More" feature can create problems with indexing if some crucial pages are hidden behind it, and there are no other pages linking back to them.
This issue arises because search engines cannot click on "Load More" to access the content hidden behind it. Moreover, if these pages are not included in the sitemap, they become even harder to find for search engines.
As a result, it is crucial to ensure that all important pages are easily accessible for search engines to crawl and index for optimal visibility and search engine optimization.
Infinite Scroll involves loading a new content list automatically as the user scrolls down the page. This approach can provide a seamless user experience and can help to keep users engaged with the content.
While this feature can improve user experience by eliminating the need for manual pagination, it can also create issues with indexing for search engines.
If important pages are only accessible through the infinite scroll and not linked from anywhere else, search engines may not be able to discover and index them, leading to indexing issues.
Similarly, if these pages are not included in the sitemap, they become harder to find for search engines. Therefore, it's essential to ensure that all crucial pages are accessible to search engines.
Ultimately, the best approach for SEO depends on the specific needs of the website and its content.
Google recommends using this table when choosing any one of these three:
Is Pagination Good or Bad for SEO?
Pagination can be both good and bad for SEO, depending on how it is implemented.
When implemented correctly, pagination can have a positive impact on SEO by improving the user experience and making content more easily accessible and navigable for both users and search engines.
One of the main benefits of pagination is that it allows large amounts of results to be shown up into smaller, more manageable subsets on different pages. This can make the content easier for users and make it more easily crawlable by search engines.
Additionally, pagination can help to organize website content into logical categories or sections, which can improve the overall structure of the site and make it easier for search engines to understand the content.
Overall, the success of pagination largely depends on its implementation. By following best practices for SEO pagination, you can improve your website's ranking and gain an extra boost.
How Google Handles Pagination?
In the past, Google treated paginated content as one long piece rather than separate pages. Google had made other changes to how it handles pagination.
For example, in 2011, Google introduced the rel=prev/next markup, which was used as a ranking factor to indicate the relationship between paginated pages.
Now, Google does not use rel=prev/next markup to identify the relationship between different paginated pages. As John Mueller announced:
Google in its official documentation has also mentioned this:
Overall, Google's approach to pagination has become more sophisticated over time, reflecting the changing ways in which different types of content are created and consumed online.
Best Practices To Implement Pagination
Here are some best practices for pagination that can help improve the user experience and SEO of a website:
Ensure Crawlability of Anchor Links
Make sure that the anchor links used in pagination are easy to follow and don't contain any code that could confuse search engines.
To ensure that search engines can effectively crawl through your paginated pages, it is crucial to use anchor links with href attributes leading to these paginated URLs.
Avoid Using "View All" Pages
If you choose to use pagination, it's generally better to avoid using a "View All" page. Instead, provide users with a clear and simple interface that allows them to navigate through the content quickly and easily.
This approach can also help improve page loading times and reduce the risk of users becoming overwhelmed by too much information.
Additionally, it is suggested to include links from all individual pages in a collection back to the first page of the collection.
This emphasizes the start of the collection to Google and indicates that the first page might be a better landing page compared to other pages in the collection.
Use Self-Referencing Canonical Tags to Avoid Duplicate Content
Canonical tags are essential for avoiding duplicate content on paginated pages. By using self-referencing canonical tags, you can ensure that search engines understand the relationship between paginated pages and index them correctly.
To create canonical tags, you'll need to add a rel="canonical" attribute to the head section of each page, along with its URL.
John Mueller said that self-referencing canonical tags are not necessary but using them can be a great practice. He also added that:
“It’s not critical to have a self-referencing canonical tag on a page, but it does make it easier for us to pick exactly the URL that you want to have chosen as canonical.
Optimize URL Structure for Pagination
Proper use of URLs is critical for SEO pagination. When implementing pagination, it is important to ensure that each page has a unique URL.
One way to achieve this is by including a "?page=n" query parameter in the URL, as this will allow Google to treat each paginated page as a separate page.
It is also important to note that the first page of a paginated sequence should not be used as the canonical page. Instead, each page should have its own unique canonical URL to avoid any issues with duplicate content.
Avoid using URL fragment identifiers, such as the text after a "#" in a URL, for page numbers in a collection. This is because Googlebot ignores fragment identifiers, which can result in the search engine not following the link to the next page, thinking that it has already retrieved the page.
FYI: URL fragment identifiers, also known as anchor links or hash links, are a way to navigate to a specific section within a webpage by including a "#" followed by a unique identifier in the URL. These are commonly used in webpages to provide direct links to specific content within a long webpage, such as headings, paragraphs, or sections.
To optimize performance for users moving to the next page, consider using preload, pre-connect, or prefetch techniques. This will help to ensure that the next page is loaded quickly and smoothly, providing a better user experience.
Prevent Indexing URLs that have “Filters” or Different “Sort” Orders
When dealing with long lists of results on a website, it's common to use filters or different sort orders. For example, you may offer an option to sort results by price using the URL parameter "?order=price".
However, it's important to avoid having search engines index multiple variations of the same list of results, as this can lead to duplicate content issues and confuse search engines.
To prevent this, you can block unwanted URLs from being indexed using the "noindex" robots meta tag or discourage the crawling of specific URL patterns with a robots.txt file.
This ensures that search engines only index the main version of the list, while still allowing users to access alternative sort orders or filtered results.
By following these best practices, you can ensure that your paginated pages are optimized for search engines, provides a good user experience, and are easy to navigate.
Pagination can be a challenging aspect of technical SEO, but by understanding the fundamentals and following the best practices, you can effectively implement pagination for your website.
By doing so, you can help search engines find and crawl all of your website content, and optimize your site for both users and search engine crawlers.