When it comes to paginating a website, there are many things to consider. You need to think about how you want your site to look and feel. You need to think about usability, performance and SEO. If you don't consider all these factors when deciding on how to paginate your site pages, you could be missing out on important traffic as well as creating a poor user experience.
The greater the number of pages in search engine results that are dedicated to a website, the more likely it is that users will interact with it. As such, pagination can be an effective way to ensure that visitors have access to all of the content on your site, whether you're running an e-commerce store or a blog. However, there are some important guidelines to follow if you want to avoid hurting your site's SEO as a result of pagination.
What is Pagination in SEO?
Lots of websites use paginated pages to show more content. For example, when you look at a product category page on an e-commerce site, you might see “20 items per page” and up to 10 other pages of products listed below. To view the next page, the user clicks on “2.” The user can also click on the first or last number to skip ahead to the very first or last product.
This is called pagination, and it's a common way for online retailers to organise their products for users as well as search engines. But not all pagination is created equal, and some strategies are better than others for helping Google understand your content better and ranking your pages for relevant keywords.
So basically, Pagination is the process of dividing content into separate pages and Digital marketing experts and SEOs use pagination to split up content that would otherwise be too long or unwieldy to display on a single page. Pagination is typically implemented with page numbers, next and previous buttons, arrows, or other navigational elements on the page.
There are many types of pagination, including:
Product pagination: used to display products on e-commerce websites.
Infinite scroll: used by social media platforms (such as Facebook and Instagram) to automatically load more content as you scroll down the page.
Search results pagination: used by Google to display search results on separate pages.
How to Improve Pagination for SEO?
Back in 2011 pagination was seen as an obstacle to good SEO. For example, Google's Webmaster Guidelines used to state: "The rel="next" and rel="prev" attributes to ensure that search engines can properly crawl multi-part articles and other types of content."
Since then Google no longer requires using these attributes (as of 2019). However, it is still best practice. If you have multiple pages that contain similar content, then it's best to use the rel="next" and rel="prev" attributes.
This means that paginated pages are now treated just like normal pages on your website in Google’s index. If you have three paginated pages, Google now sees them as three individual pages — not one page with three different sections. Each page needs to stand on its own, which means businesses need to utilise other on-page SEO techniques to manage paginated pages.
Can Paginated Pages Hurt SEO?
When your content is split over multiple URLs (pages), each one with fewer products than the last, your search engine rank may be diminished. Your products can also get lost in a series of pages with similar or identical metadata (titles, descriptions etc.), diluting any SEO value they might have individually. Each page competes with one another and the end result is decreased click-through rates (CTR) from search engines, lower rankings and a potential hit to profits.
Infinite Scroll or Pagination?
Paginated pages and infinite scroll are two different approaches to how content is presented to the user. Both have their pros and cons, but it's important to understand that they're not mutually exclusive. In fact, applying the correct combination of these techniques can be really beneficial, both for your users and for your SEO.
Pagination makes a lot of sense when there is a specific reason why users would need or want to skip directly to an arbitrary page in a series. For example, this is commonly seen on e-commerce product listings, where you would want users to be able to quickly jump from say, page 10 (or even page 50) directly to page 100 if they know that's where they'll find the item they are looking for.
It can also be used in other contexts where you want users to be able to quickly jump around through some kind of series of content. For example, if you have an archive with many years of blog posts, it may make sense to include pagination features so that people can quickly jump ahead several years.
Infinite scroll means that additional content loads automatically as you scroll down the page. This dynamic loading can allow for a more engaging user experience, but it also presents unique SEO challenges. Because the user doesn’t have to take any action to get more content, paginated pages are not crawled by default. Google will still crawl and index paginated pages when it finds internal links to specific pages, but this requires a deeper crawl of your website.
To plan the highest-quality search results, use best practices for SEO pagination. As with any other elements of your site, Google appreciates clean, well-implemented pagination designs that successfully direct users to the next page. By following best practices for SEO pagination, you can avoid duplicate content and penalisation from Google.