Pagination SEO

When Google announced that they no longer supported rel="next" and rel="prev", it caused a lot of turmoil in the SEO industry about what we should do with pagination SEO.

How to implement proper pagination for SEO?

This post is an overview of the best strategies that I have seen to deal with pagination.

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What is Pagination?

Pagination is a way to divide your content into blocks and make it accessible through links using an index of pages.

Here we are going to look at different approaches to deal with pagination SEO.

Pagination SEO Tactics

No Pagination

Mid-point link pagination

Infinite Scroll


Strategy 1: No Pagination

I am not a fan of pagination.

Most users don’t use pagination, and when they do is rarely over page 2. For most sites, pagination is usually built for content discovery and crawling.

I don’t find value in indexing pages that provide no value to the user just for the sake of crawling

Since most users don’t use pagination, it is not the right way to build your information architecture.

On large sites, pagination can create loads of low-value indexable pages. Imagine a site with 10 million landing pages, paginated from 0 to 20.

Instead, you should build high value category pages.

How to Remove Pagination?

Here are a few options to get rid of the pagination cruft.

1. Get rid of the pagination

How could Google crawl my content without pagination?! You are CRAZY ?.

If your site depends on pagination for discovery, you have bigger problems. Really…

2. Noindex pagination

3. Canonicalise pagination to the first page.

In more important cases, you could make a special rule for bots: redirect those pages or even entirely remove pagination. This is controversial, it might be seen as cloaking, but it does not alter user experience and makes Google’s job easier.

Don’t do this unless you are sure you want to take the risk.

If you do it, use this HTTP header on your site:

Vary: User-Agent

Find Out How Much of Your Site’s Discovery Rely on Pagination

It is simple to know if your site is built well enough to remove pagination.

1. Crawl your site with Screaming Frog

2. Save your results

3. Block Pagination in Custom Robots.txt

4. Recrawl Your Site

5. Compare Your Crawls

Screaming Frog has a new feature to compare crawls.

Compare the two crawls that you made to see pages that are missing after blocking the pagination.

In my case, I can see that only pagination URLs have not been crawled.

So. Even if I would remove pagination from my site, all my articles would be crawled.

Strategy 2: Mid Point Link Pagination

This is not my favorite strategy because it doesn’t seem to make sense for the user. However, Matthew Henry has made a fantastic pagination experiment worth reading.

It goes like this: add links to midpoints in your pagination.

Even if it might be ok for the robot, it doesn’t make any sense to bring users deeper down the funnel.

You want the user to convert on the first page. Thus, your page rank AND your navigation should be oriented towards the content on the first page.

Strategy 3: Infinite Scroll

This one needs no introduction as it dominates today’s most-used apps like Facebook and Reddit. It is called the infinite scroll.

Funny fact, we scroll down on average three stories high on our devices each day.

It proves that the user loves it!

However, social media are not bound to Google as much as we are since most of the shared content isn’t even indexed.

The rest of us need to implement pagination properly.

If you want to add infinite scroll to your website, just know that without pagination, Google will not crawl all of your content since it will not execute AJAX.

John Mueller has made a simple, but very useful example of how to implement the infinite scroll properly on your website.

How to add pagination to an Infinite Scroll (by Google)

There is also a fantastic blog post by Adam Gent to let you learn how to manage pagination.

Strategy 4: The Ghostblock

The Ghostblock is my own favorite, and it is not only because it has a cool name.

Audisto made a fantastic case study on pagination and this is what they recommend: The Ghostblock.

The Gostblock is a pagination strategy that distributes pagerank and chirank to first pages and the most important page hubs.

The Ghostblock Pagination Strategy

The strategy is to make the first line visible and accessible to the user, while the other line is grayed out and clearly meant for the search engine.

The second block uses this formula:

(current page * 10) + 1

More Guidance on Pagination by John Mueller

Interesting Work From the Community


We are done here.

If you want to learn more about site architecture, just read Richard Baxter‘s highly relevant post on the subject.

Takeaway. Pagination SEO is hard and needs to be tested over and over. Please share your tests with me if you have discovered anything useful lately.

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