In the last post of this series, we discussed the aspect of duplicate content and how to mitigate duplicate content risk within eCommerce SEO. Next on our list to review is a the area of pagination.
Pagination, in plain terms, is the way your website renders a “list” of results within a category. Paramount in both eCommerce and standard publishing alike, the need to deploy proper pagination, so your business ensures complete indexing, is vital for SEO success.
Any significantly sized site is bound to make use of content split across multiple pages; whether it is a long article broken up into linkable series, a slideshow of quickly digestible content, or an ecommerce product category split across multiple pages for usability and browsing purposes.
However, without proper tagging, this paginated content may be read as separate and unrelated pages by search crawlers, creating SEO issues that can stall your growth.
Empowering your “rank target” page
Frequently a pagination issue arises when internal value within your website, such as internally pointing links and anchor text, becomes diluted across the individual content pages instead of consolidated into a singular page. This can prevent the most relevant page from being served to searchers, and limit the authority of your website to a target phrase.
There are several pagination solutions that a brand or retailer can implement. The solution that is best for your site will depend on a few questions, such as if whether or not there exists a “View All” page for the content and whether you would prefer the View-All page or an individual page be served to searchers.
The “View-All” Solution
In 2011, Google conducted user testing which revealed that their users generally prefer that search results take them to a view-all page.
Based on these results, Google’s crawlers were programmed to seek out view-all pages, and if detected, index these pages more prominently in the SERPs.
If you don’t have a “view all” page constructed automatically within your system, then you should create one manually with the help of your IT team, and then add a canonical tag that points to the view-all page, within all pages of your sequence.
Retailers without a “view all” page are missing a big opportunity. The overall penetration of category and sub-category rankings will likely be lower since how Google adds weight to these pages in a result set.
Notes: Only use this option for view-all pages that contain all of the content from the split pages. Canonical tags are meant for duplicate content and supersets such as a view-all page. Only the content on the canonical page will be indexed.
Retailers must have “view all” pages if possible, in this example a billion dollar retailer (Best Buy) does not.
Using Rel=Next and Rel=Prev
Using the <link rel=”prev”> and <link rel=”next”> attributes in a connected series of pages indicate to search crawlers to treat the pages as one set of content, and also consolidates value.
This method is universally applicable, whether or not a view-all page exists. These tags also override Google’s default behavior of serving a view-all page if one exists, acting as an indication to serve the most relevant page instead, usually page 1 of the set.
To implement this method, include a link tag with the rel=”next” attribute pointing to page 2 on the first page that looks like:
<link rel=”next” href= “/category/subcategory?page2”>
Then on page 2 include both rel=”prev” and rel=”next” tags on the page:
<link rel=”prev” href=“/category/subcategory?page1”>
<link rel=”next” href=”/category/subcategory?page3”>
Repeat this for subsequent pages until you reach the last page of the set which would only include the <link rel=”prev”…> attribute.
The “prev” and “next” tag should be leveraged in order to group alike pages
Tips for prev/next tagging:
- The attribute values must form a chain. If Page 1 has a “next” attribute pointing to Page 2, then Page 2 must have a “prev” attribute pointing to Page 1 and so on, otherwise the chain is broken and the content will not be read as a series.
- The links to subsequent and previous pages within the rel/next attribute must include any URL parameters. This is best accomplished dynamically. EG: The rel=next tag on “site.com/category?page1&ref=FB” needs to point to “/category?page2&ref=FB”.
- A page can have both canonical and rel/next tags. For instance, in the above example the canonical tag on Page 1 would point to “site.com/category?Page1”. The canonical tag on page 2, should point to page 2. Not page 1.
- If you are using AJAX for category navigation the prev/next attributes still need to be present on the separate URLs.
Infinite scroll may be best for your visitors
New JQuery technology is bringing “infinite scroll” to brands. This enables your visitors to never have to click on a numeral link within a paginated series of pages, as remaining products within a category are automatically loaded. Infinite scroll is great for the user experience, but if executed incorrectly, can have a big impact on keyword rankings as key pages will not be indexed.
Google has outlined guidelines for infinite scroll and by following these rules can deliver your most effective user experience in a way that is SEO friendly and optimized.
Final thoughts on pagination
As an eCommerce and/or digital marketer, you know that maximizing your crawl equity within your domain is paramount to growing SEO performance. Paginated sets of content are useful from a site architecture and user experience perspective, but without properly implemented tagging indicating that content is part of a series, you may dilute overall SEO value within a merchandising theme.
Utilizing one of the above solutions will help guarantee that content is being seen as intended by search crawlers, while solving any pagination issues your site may be experiencing.
To learn more about eCommerce pagination and the value of this factor within your eCommerce SEO performance, contact us and one of our SEO solution engineers will be in touch immediately