Back in September of last year, Google came out with their solution for pagination issues in SEO and search - view all & rel="next" and rel="prev".
It is a pretty complex topic for non-technical SEOs but yet it can be super helpful for large sites with a lot of pagination.
Maile posted a recent video on the Webmaster YouTube channel explaining how this all works in clear English so almost anyone can understand it.
Here is the new video:
Here is the full transcript:
0:03MAILE OHYE: Hi.
0:03I'm Maile Ohye.
0:05I've been at Google now for over six years, working with
0:08Search and with Webmaster Tools.
0:11I'd like to welcome you to my home.
0:13Let's chat about pagination and SEO.
0:16For today's agenda, we'll first start with some
0:19paginated content examples.
0:21Then we'll get into some of the negative side effects of
0:24pagination and why you as a webmaster might want to make
0:28some effort as to not dilute your indexing properties and
0:32to show better results to users.
0:35Then we'll cover your configuration.
0:37And this comes in two parts--
0:39for those of you webmasters with paginated content and a
0:42view-all page available, and then for those of you
0:45webmasters that have paginated content but
0:47without a view-all page.
0:49So there's going to be two types of configurations there.
0:52Then we're going to step back a little bit and talk about
0:55what Google is doing to help users with paginated content
0:58and webmasters as well.
1:01And then last, given your configuration, whether you
1:04have a view-all page available or you have no view-all page
1:07available, we'll look at the options that you have for your
1:12So let's go ahead and start with some
1:14paginated content examples.
1:17Paginated content exists throughout the web, and I'm
1:21going to cover two of those common cases.
1:23One is a paginated article.
1:26So let's say you go to your favorite content site, and you
1:29see the breaking news story.
1:31"New studies prove that cookies are superior nutrition
1:35to vegetables." And that would be quite the story.
1:39But your favorite site might not put this all on one page,
1:42but instead, paginate it into several component pages.
1:46Now this one article has become three, and this is an
1:49example of paginated content articles.
1:52Another example of pagination is for things like a product
1:56category, like what you would see on your favorite
2:00So let's say this webmaster is selling shapes.
2:03They're selling six types of shapes.
2:05But rather than have it all on one page, they have divided it
2:09into two component pages, both of them with shapes, creating
2:15So two common ways are with paginated content articles and
2:19with paginated product categories.
2:21Now, what are some of the negative side effects of this?
2:25Well, there's a couple.
2:26So I'd like to highlight two, the first being that indexing
2:31properties, like links and anchor text, can be diluted
2:36into the different component URLs rather than being
2:39consolidated to the one article or to
2:42the one product category.
2:44So that's one of the negative side effects.
2:47The other is that the most relevant page in the series
2:50might not be reflected in search results.
2:53So if you're the webmaster for this e-commerce site, you
2:56might want users to be sent to page one, say, of your series.
3:00But because search engines see this pagination as three
3:03separate entities, searchers might be sent to a different
3:06page that might not be the most relevant.
3:10So those are a few of the negative side effects of
3:14Now let's talk more about your situation and the
3:16configuration you have on your site.
3:19We're going to look at this in terms of two different types
3:23One is with a view-all page available, and the other is
3:26with no view-all page available.
3:29Now, if your site has paginated content with a
3:31view-all page available, there are a couple of things you
3:34want to make sure you test for.
3:36One is make sure that you have still decent latency on your
3:41site meaning that, if a user clicks on the view-all
3:44version, that it doesn't take them 15 seconds to load
3:48because it's such a long article, or
3:49it's so many products.
3:50But that they still have a good experience--
3:53say, the page only takes four seconds to load.
3:56The second thing to check for if you have a view-all page
3:58available is to make sure that the page remains easily
4:02navigable, meaning that users can still find the content
4:06that they want or the particular product that they
4:08want by easily scrolling or viewing headings.
4:12So that's the configuration of a view-all page available.
4:16And then obviously, without a view-all page available, it's
4:21So think about your site in terms of configuration you
4:24have. But before we go there, let's take a step back and
4:28talk a little bit about what Google is doing.
4:32We're, of course, always working to improve the
4:34experience for searchers.
4:36And one thing that we found through testing is that our
4:39searchers prefer seeing the view-all page in their search
4:43results opposed to an individual component page.
4:47And one reason for this might be because of latency.
4:51So if you take search results and you click on a result to a
4:54view-all page, while that might take, say, three seconds
4:57to load that article that new studies prove that cookies are
5:01superior nutrition to vegetables, that might be
5:04But on the other hand, searchers were less happy when
5:08search results took them to just page one of the article.
5:11While that might have just had two seconds of latency and
5:14then the page loaded, every time that user wanted to click
5:17Next to read more of the article, it caused some
5:20additional load time.
5:21So because of this latency and other reasons, searches prefer
5:26the view-all page.
5:28So given this knowledge, one of our engineers on indexing,
5:31Benjia Li, actually came out with a new feature
5:34in October of 2011.
5:39"When we detect that a paginated series also contains
5:43a view-all version, we're now making a larger effort to
5:46return the view-all page in search results when
5:49appropriate." So that's great for searchers.
5:53And what's even better for webmasters is that while we
5:55detect this view-all page, we'll also still consolidate
5:59indexing properties, like links, to the view-all page.
6:03So again, this is good for searchers and good for you as
6:06webmasters for all that indexing consolidation.
6:10Now, let's talk about some of the options that you have as a
6:13webmaster with paginated content.
6:15We're first going to look at the situation where webmasters
6:19have paginated the content and a view-all page available.
6:22But for those of you that have no view-all page available,
6:25it's still good if you pay attention because some of
6:27these options will apply to you as well.
6:30So you have a site with paginated content and a
6:33view-all page, you have three good options.
6:37First, you can leave as is.
6:40There's nothing that you have to do if you have other
6:42priorities on your site.
6:44Paginated content exists throughout the web, and search
6:47engines will continue to do an even better
6:49job of handling it.
6:50And as I mentioned earlier, if you have a view-all page
6:53available, Google will automatically try to detect
6:56that, send searchers there, as well as consolidate your
7:01So option one is a very solid option.
7:04But you also have a second option.
7:06The second option is to actually use rel="canonical"
7:10to explicitly hint to Google what is your view-all page.
7:15So while we try to detect it algorithmically, you can also
7:18tell us by writing rel="canonical" on your
7:21component pages to your view-all version.
7:25And this is kind of a more explicit hint to us about how
7:28your site is configured.
7:30With the rel="canonical," as many of you already know,
7:33we'll of course consolidate the indexing properties from
7:36the component pages with the canonical version.
7:40So things like links will also be transferred.
7:42And then, of course, we'll send users to
7:45the view-all page.
7:46So that's option number two.
7:48The last option is actually done by two of our engineers,
7:52Joachim and Benjia.
7:53And what this is is using the standard HTML markup of
7:58rel="next" and rel="prev" on the component pages in your
8:02series to signal to Google that these are individual
8:05pages, but they all belong to one series.
8:09So by adding this rel="next" and rel="prev" markup, you
8:12connect these individual components into one.
8:15You can do this by adding rel="next" to page one and
8:19then rel="prev" and rel="next" to page two, all the way to
8:23the last page, which only includes a rel="prev".
8:27And then, of course, on your view-all
8:28page, nothing is needed.
8:30rel="next" and rel="prev" is standard HTML markup, and it's
8:34been around for years.
8:35But now, Google is using this markup for webmasters to let
8:39us know about their paginated content.
8:42So let me explain some ways that rel="next"
8:44and rel="prev" work.
8:46With rel="next" and rel="prev," much like you see
8:49with something like rel="canonical," we'll
8:51actually consolidate indexing properties from the component
8:54pages of the series.
8:56And in addition, unlike rel="canonical" that only
8:59shows the view-all page in search results, with
9:02rel="next" and rel="prev," we're going to override that
9:05behavior and send users to only one of
9:08the component pages.
9:10Most likely, this will be page one, because commonly that's
9:12the most relevant page.
9:14So now if you have, say, that product category, selling
9:17shapes, if you use the rel="next" and rel="prev"
9:21markup, it'll tell us that these two pages
9:24belong to one series.
9:26And then most commonly, we'll send users to page one.
9:30Know that rel="next" and rel="prev" is a strong hint.
9:34It's not a mandate by any means.
9:37The last thing I want to say about rel="next" and
9:39rel="prev" is that component URLs in a series should be
9:43consistent with their parameters.
9:46So let's take the article of new studies prove that cookies
9:51are superior nutrition to vegetables.
9:53Now, let's say that these pages contain a session ID.
9:57All of these values for rel="prev" and rel="next"
10:00should also contain the session ID.
10:03And this is because our indexing team looks to
10:05actually link every page in a series with what was declared
10:09previous and what was declared next.
10:11And when they do that, they want to make sure-- say you're
10:14on page two--
10:15that the rel="prev" that states rel="prev" is
10:18page-1&sid=123, they will go to that URL.
10:23But that URL actually has to list page two
10:26with the same sid.
10:28And that's how we can link every page in the sequence.
10:31So be sure to keep parameters throughout your entire series.
10:36So let's recap those three options.
10:39If you have a view-all page available, you
10:41can leave as is.
10:42You could also explicitly state rel="canonical" to your
10:47Or you can override the view-all page behavior by
10:51adding rel="next" and rel="prev." By adding
10:54rel="next" and rel="prev," you will help us consolidate
10:57component pages in a series.
10:59But instead of sending users to a view-all page, we'll then
11:03send searchers to one component page., most likely
11:06page one of your series.
11:08Now, let's talk about the configuration with no view-all
11:13So for those of you webmasters that have paginated content
11:17and no view-all page, you have two options.
11:20First, of course, you can leave as is.
11:22That's perfectly fine.
11:24And then your second option is also to use rel="next" and
11:27rel="prev." Again, by using rel="next" and rel="prev," it
11:31connects the component pages in the series, and
11:33consolidates indexing properties, and helps us to
11:36send searchers to the most relevant page, which is likely
11:39the first page of the series.
11:42Now I'm going to beat you to the punch and ask one of the
11:45most commonly asked questions about rel="canonical" as well
11:49as rel="next," "prev." And that is why rel="next" and
11:54rel="prev" for a paginated series rather than
11:57rel="canonical" to page one?
11:59I bet you were thinking that.
12:01The answer is that rel="canonical" is for
12:06So let's take that article.
12:08Let's say page two of the article, cookies
12:10are superior nutrition.
12:11If this page actually has a session ID attached, then it
12:15can list as the canonical the same version, the duplicate
12:18conversion, but without a session ID Because
12:21rel="canonical" is for duplicate content, or it's for
12:25content which is a superset.
12:27So here we have page one, page two, and page three, all
12:31linking to the canonical version being
12:34the view-all version.
12:35And that's perfectly fine as well.
12:38The thing about rel="canonical" is that it
12:40only indexes content from the canonical version.
12:44So let's go ahead and take a look at this.
12:46If we have page two and page three, page two says "cookies
12:51are superior nutrition," and page three says "to
12:55But they both add rel="canonical"
12:56just to page one.
12:59And Google's index will then cluster page one, page two,
13:02and page three all together.
13:05But the only thing that we'll have indexed is the content
13:08from page one, the canonical version.
13:10So our index will actually contain "new studies prove
13:14And now by using this rel="canonical" incorrectly,
13:18this webmaster has totally lost the content "cookies are
13:21superior nutrition" and "to vegetables." So that's why
13:24rel="canonical" doesn't work in this case.
13:26But rel="next," "prev" works for a series or
13:30a sequence of content.
13:32So let's take those two paginated examples again.
13:35By using rel="next" and rel="prev," we'll actually, in
13:39Google's index, mark it as a series.
13:42But we'll have page one, page two, and page three all
13:48So in our index, we know page one refers to "new studies
13:51prove that," page two, "cookies are superior
13:54nutrition," and page three, "to vegetables." And all three
13:58pages will be indexed and marked as one series.
14:01So that's the big difference between rel="canonical" and
14:05So something to note is that rel="canonical" can actually
14:08be used alongside rel="next" "prev." So let's take a look
14:12at page two again.
14:14And this time, it has a session ID.
14:16This URL can actually list both the canonical version
14:20without a session ID as well as a rel="prev" and rel="next"
14:25with, of course, the same parameters, including that
14:29So now let's recap your new pagination toolbox.
14:33Starting with Google, we have two new features for you.
14:37First, we're making a better effort to detect a view-all
14:40page, and then send searchers to that
14:42preferred view-all version.
14:45The second feature is if you want to actually even override
14:48So for those of you with a view-all page available or
14:51without, if you add markup with rel="next" and
14:55rel="prev," it signals to Google that these are
14:58component pages in a series.
15:00We'll then consolidate indexing properties, and send
15:03searchers to the most relevant page, most likely page one.
15:07Now, let's get into the types of
15:09configurations you have available.
15:12So recapping, if you have a view-all page available, you
15:15have three options.
15:17You can leave as is.
15:18You can use rel="canonical" on your component pages, pointing
15:22to your view-all page.
15:24Or you can override all the view-all detection by adding
15:28rel="next" and rel="prev," telling us that these
15:31component pages belong to a series.
15:34And I'd like you, Google, to send searchers to the most
15:37relevant individual page, again, likely page one.
15:41Now, the other part of the pagination toolbox is for
15:45those of you with no view-all available, and
15:48you have two options.
15:49Of course, you can leave exactly as is.
15:52Or again, you can use rel="next" and rel="prev."
15:55This helps you to consolidate all the component pages into
15:59one series and send searchers to the most relevant page.
16:03So the great thing about these pagination features is that
16:07I've been at Google long enough to see the infancy from
16:10when the webmaster community was talking to us about issues
16:13with pagination until now when we have more features
16:16available to you.
16:17So thank you so much to all of you for your helpful feedback
16:20and for being part of this webmaster community.
16:23For more information on pagination, here are some
16:26And you can, of course, join us at the Webmaster Central
16:29Blog or in the Webmaster Discussion Forum.
16:32Thanks for your time.
Forum discussion at Google+.