Tips on SEO pagination

The pagination of online content – i.e. the division of content into separate pages – has long proved a tricky issue to overcome for SEO professionals, with user experience affected and the impact of having too many levels on how Google indexes content. Being able to develop a solution that appeases search engines, and doesn’t infringe on users’ navigation or enjoyment of your website, is of the utmost importance, not least if you’re working hard to produce high-quality content on a regular basis. 

When to paginate

It’s common to use content pagination for two scenarios: when paginating a list over a number of pages; and when segmenting a long piece of content into more manageable chunks, something often done by those looking to maximise advertising revenue for each individual visitor. By breaking the content up through paginating over a series of pages, there are a number of benefits:

  • Page load time: by running content over a series of pages in preference to loading in a single scroll format, the server load is significantly reduced, meaning page loading is quicker, and accessing your database for page elements requires less time.
  • User experience: if you visit an ecommerce website featuring hundreds of products, the prospect of listing all products on a single page is daunting. Smaller pockets of information are easier to digest and navigate, and you are also presented with the opportunity to maximise your call-to-actions, without too many distractions on a page.

Drawbacks of Pagination

Of course, paginating content isn’t all good for your website. When it comes to the impact on SEO, there are a number of implications to be considered. For example, by paginating content, you’re moving pages further from the homepage and deeper into your site. This means it takes more clicks to access the pages, diminishing the link value passing through them, and makes it difficult for web crawlers to search and index your content accordingly.

What’s more, there can often be issues arising from duplicated content, while the potential separation of a longer piece of content diminishes the value of social likes, PageRank, links, and more. Plus, the indexing of such an article could lead to the first page being ranked lower than later pages; when users land on a piece of content, they expect to be at the beginning immediately, without having to navigate their way there.

Pagination options 

Though the drawbacks of paginating content may fill you with apprehension, the benefits for users far outweigh the negatives. Embracing pagination best practice, therefore, is essential, and determining exactly how you plan to divide and present your content is key. Below we take a look at the pagination options for both scenarios presented above, enabling you to determine the best solution for your website.

List paginations 

Such an option is common to almost all websites hosting large quantities of content. For example, a blog with hundreds of articles would most likely adopt list paginations, with the articles divided into blocks of ten to a page. At the bottom of the page, you will be presented with something similar to:

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10

or

Prev – Next

When it comes to SEO, the former option is preferred, reducing the number of steps a user (and Google’s bots) has to take in order to navigate to a certain page. There is, however, a strain on server load time caused by such an option, something that the second solution (which enables users to only negotiate one page at a time and in order) doesn’t cause. As such, a hybrid option lying between the two may prove more effective:

 

1 – 10, 11 – 20, 21 – 30, 31 – 40

 

This hybrid solution reduces the load time while at the same time causes only a slight infraction on the SEO of the page.

Article paginations 

In the instance of dividing a single article over a series of pages, we have already identified the potential for splitting social likes, the links an article receives, its PageRank, and the myriad keyword opportunities for generating traffic that may be better served hosting content on a solitary page. To overcome such issues requires you to implement either a ‘View-All/Canonical URL’ policy or a ‘rel=”next” and rel=”prev” markup’ option.

As one might assume, the View-All option means creating a page featuring the entire body of text, thereby increasing the chance of ranking for more keyword combinations. In addition, each component page will have rel=Canonical added to its header pointing to the View-All page, thereby consolidating indexing properties from the individual pages to the full edition. While this will improve user experience significantly, there will be a slight increase in load time, and visitors from search engines will automatically be directed to the full page, thereby circumventing the opportunity to increase ad impressions by paginating content.

As an alternative, adding ‘rel=”next” and rel=”prev” markup’ to the header of each component page pointing to the corresponding URL reduces load time and drives search engine traffic to individual pages. In addition, ranking factors will be attributed to the series of pages, as opposed to an individual, View-All option. Once again, however, there are drawbacks to this option, with missed keyword combination opportunities, and reduced user experience.

Find out more on how to enhance your SEO

As is clear from looking at the pagination options available, determining which option you follow is very much dependent on the content of your website and the goals you have. Regardless of whether you’re a news outlet with thousands of pages that need paginating, or if you wish to maximise your ad revenue by splitting content over a series of pages, adopting the correct form of pagination is essential.

To find out more about the best practices for paginating content, contact Whitefish Marketing today - Kent based SEO agency. We’ll be happy to answer any questions and provide tips and advice on how best to optimise your website.


About Chris Surridge

Chris Surridge is an experienced Digital Marketing Director with a wealth of knowledge on Search Marketing Strategies and Conversion Analysis. His value is in strategic planning for client accounts, and his consultative services.