Post Pagination and SEO : Good or Bad? What Should You Prefer?

Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Blogging Tips ·

Do you write very long posts with lots of images and videos? If yes, then showing the whole post content on a single page may not be convenient; for both you and the readers. In such cases, splitting the posts into certain parts is very essential. That is called as post pagination.

An example of paginated post would be my post : Jetpack plugin guidance. The post is more than 3600 words and with 40-50 images. Showing all this on a single page may be a cumbersome act. The page will have a huge size and also will load slowly. Hence I split the post into 8 parts, so that readers can read each part separately, without facing any loading issues.

Pagination and SEO

(Image : Design3Edge.com)

Should you use pagination for long posts?

Ease of content access

According to me, the answer to this question is yes. As I mentioned earlier, long posts (2000+ words) are huge in size. Users may face loading issues, especially on mobiles and tablets.

Instead, if the post is paginated, users can easily read the post in parts, without worrying about the page size. This will enhance the user experience of your blog, improve the loading speed and increase the page-views as well.

However, do not paginate the posts where not needed. If the post is short and can be fitted on a single page, do not split it.

Impacts on SEO

When you split a post into multiple parts, you actually create multiple pages on a single topic. That is called as keyword cannibalization. This dilutes the indexing properties like quality of content and backlinks.

Moreover, the most relevant page may not be shown in search results (SERPs). Instead, you may see a sub-page listed in SERPs.

There are several ways to avoid these problems, which are discussed below.

Avoid problems in SEO

‘View all’ or ‘view complete post’ option

The best way to avoid indexing problems is to provide ‘view all’ option. The ‘view all’ page should combine all the parts of a post and show them on a single page.

Google can detect the ‘view all’ page and always tries to index it on the first priority. No additional markup or styling is needed. Just add a link to this page near other pagination links.

Pagination with view all page

Moreover, you can use canonical URL tag to point all other sub pages to this page. This will avoid any further confusion for search engines. Example usage : <link rel="canonical" href="view-all-page-link">.

Canonical to view all page

Rel=”next” and rel=”prev” HTML markup

Another way to avoid indexing problems is to use rel=”next and rel=”prev” markup. This markup clearly tells search engines that the post is paginated and how the pages are arranged sequentially. The tag can be placed either in the <head> section or inside the actual link.

Rel next and rel prev

Example usage :

(Page 1)

Place the code in <head> :
<link rel="next" href="page-2-link">

Or, place a link somewhere on the page :
<a href="page-2-link" rel="next">Next page</a>

(Page 2)

Place the code in <head> :

<link rel="prev" href="page-1-link">
<link rel="next" href="page-3-link">

Or, place these links somewhere on the page :

<a href="page-1-link" rel="prev">Previous page</a>
<a href="page-3-link" rel="next">Next page</a>

(Page 3)

Place the code in <head> :

<link rel="prev" href="page-2-link">
<link rel="next" href="page-4-link">

Or, place these links somewhere on the page :

<a href="page-2-link" rel="prev">Previous page</a>
<a href="page-4-link" rel="next">Next page</a>

(Last page)

Place the code in <head> :

<link rel="prev" href="previous-page-link">

Or, place these links somewhere on the page :

<a href="previous-page-link" rel="prev">Previous page</a>

Note : If you are a WordPress user, you do not need to bother about this issue. WordPress manages very well to use these tags for pagination links. Moreover, you can use WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin for more perfectness.
• Related : How to paginate a WordPress post properly?

 

Some important facts about this markup :

1. This markup is a strong hint to search engines about your paginated content. It connects all the components of the article.
2. Using this markup consolidates all the indexing properties.
3. Search engines strive to return the most relevant page in their search results.
4. The series of the pages MUST be consistent.
5. Search engines may or may not honour this markup every time you use it.

Hiding sub-pages from search index

This is commonly used practice. However I personally don’t recommend it. In this method, the NOINDEX, FOLLOW tag is added to the sub-pages.

By doing this, only the first page (or the main page) is visible in search results; while the sub-pages are still readable to search engines.

If you are using rel=”prev” and rel=”next”, do not bother to hide sub-pages.

Do you split your long posts into small parts? Do share your experiences.

A useful video for reference :

Last updated on : March 27, 2014.

4 Comments on “Post Pagination and SEO : Good or Bad? What Should You Prefer?”

  1. Good explanation, but in “Hiding sub-pages from search index”, noindex, follow tells search engines not to index the page and follow it, while rel=”prev” and rel=”next” will also follow the page. It has nothing to do with indexing, and no confusion at all.
    Regards, Darko

    1. Hello!

      rel=”prev” and rel=”next” many times don’t show good results. Also we want users to land on the main (first) page. That’s why it is better not to index the subpages.

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