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Canonical and pagination

M

macB

New Member
I'm a little confused over canonical and pagination and was wondering if anyone could help?

Lets say I have a URL like:

/products/shoes

and that URL results in 3 pages of results. I've included the relevant "next" and "prev" tags for the series as Google recommends (I don't have a "view all" URL). But I'm confused what is meant to go in the canonical tag for each page in the series.

I watched a Google video (the link is now 404)! This suggested each page in the series should be self referencing so the canonical tag for page 1 should be

/products/shoes?page=1

I've done this and Google has re crawled the site and I now have (in this example) 3 additional URLS (for each page) added to the Google index? I didn't expect this as I thought it would consider it a series?

I Googled some other suggestions and they agree with Google apart from page 1 should NOT have the page param and therefore should point to /products/shoes.

I also looked look at how a competitor does it (with superior SEO results) and they have every page in the series with the canonical tag pointing to /products/shoes (i.e. no page parameter)?
 
Community

Community

Administrator
Staff member
Before Google's recommendation was to have each Canonical self referencing with each next and prev on a paginated page.

The old page I quote here for referance :

Indicating paginated content to Google
If you break a single piece of content into multiple pages, you can help Google understand the ordering of those pages, and the fact that they are all parts of one longer article.

Sites paginate content for various reasons. For example:
  • News and/or publishing sites often divide a long article into several shorter pages.
  • Retail sites may divide the list of items in a large product category into multiple pages.
  • Discussion forums often break threads into sequential URLs.

If you paginate content on your site, and you want that content to appear in search results, we recommend one of the following three options.

  • Do nothing. Paginated content is very common, and Google does a good job returning the most relevant results to users, regardless of whether content is divided into multiple pages.
  • Implement a View All page. Searchers commonly prefer to view a whole article or category on a single page. Therefore, if we think this is what the searcher is looking for, we try to show the View All page in search results. You can also add a rel="canonical" link to the component pages to tell Google that the View All version is the version you want to appear in search results.
  • Use rel="next" and rel="prev" links or headers to indicate the relationship between component URLs. This markup provides a strong hint to Google that you would like us to treat these pages as a logical sequence, thus consolidating their linking properties and usually sending searchers to the first page.

Note: You should not use this technique merely to indicate a reading list of an article series; you should use this to indicate a single long piece of content that is broken into multiple pages.

Using rel="next" and rel="prev"

You can use either HTML links or HTTP headers to indicate the next or previous article segment when a long article is broken into separate pages.

  1. Decide whether to use HTTP headers or HTML <link> tags
  2. The first page should include only a "next" pointer, pointing to the next article segment.
  3. The last page should include only a "prev" pointer, pointing to the preceding article segment.
  4. All intermediary pages should get both "next" and "prev" pointers to the immediate next and preceding article segments.

Example:

Here is a 3-page article that uses HTML links in the <head> tag:

cats_part_1cats_part_2cats_part_3
<link rel="next" href="cats_part_2><link rel="next" href="cats_part_3>
<link rel="prev" href="cats_part_1>
<link rel="prev" href="cats_part_2>
Syntax

You can indicate next/previous pointers using either HTTP headers or HTML <link> tags.

HTTP headers:

Return one or both of the following HTTP headers in your page response.

HTML <link> tags:

Put the appropriate <link> tags inside the page <head> element.
  • <link rel="next" href="next_page_URL"> for the next article segment.
  • <link rel="prev" href="previous_page_url"> for the previous article segment.
Notes

  • rel="prev" and rel="next" act as hints to Google, not absolute directives.
  • Google accepts both rel="prev" and rel="previous"
  • If a page includes parameters that don't change the page's content, such as session IDs, then the URLs specified in next and previous links should also contain those parameters.
  • rel="next" and rel="prev" are compatible with rel="canonical" values. You can include both declarations in the same page. For example, a page can contain both of the following HTML tags: <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/article"/>
    <link rel="next" href="http://www.example.com/article-part2" />

  • If Google finds mistakes in your implementation (for example, if an expected rel="prev" or rel="next" designation is missing),we'll continue to index the page(s),and rely on our own heuristics to understand your content.
  • URLs can be either absolute or relative. If you include a <base> link in your document, relative paths will resolve according to the base URL.
However, as of yesterday Google removed the resource from their guidelines and claims they haven't used Next and prev for a few years now ( but forgot to remove it from their guidelines ).

This is the general advice ( by google ) now being compiled by most SEM blogs :


One method as you've mentioned is point the canonical to the "view all" of each category. I'm not convinced that is 100% the best way to deal with it, so have no data to back that up. Yes it gets around the duplicate/thin content issue but i think it massively depends on each store/site as to what the best approach should be.

I have my self previously recommended and had great success with using the canonical as the first page for the whole series of pagination ( not the view all ),the biggest trouble I found with that is again if there are alot of products, it doesn't promote good internal linking to the product the far reaches of other paginated pages even with product sitemaps.

Currently my recommendations at this moment in time for a store with alot of products/paginated pages ( which could change in the coming weeks ) is to keep canonicals self referencing, creating unique meta descriptions and page titles and still using the next/prev in the series. Possibly removing category desriptions from paginated pages so that the product listings act as the unique content for the page.

For a store that doesn't have that many products, such as 1 or 2 paginated pages per category, I would probably increase the number of products and have one main category page for the product set.
 
Community

Community

Administrator
Staff member
Lazy load is your new best friend.
What does lazy loading have to do with canonical and pagination ?

Ah you mean Infinite scrolling / Ajax loading, indeed it is becoming more useful in that respect.
 
M

macB

New Member
Currently my recommendations at this moment in time for a store with alot of products/paginated pages ( which could change in the coming weeks ) is to keep canonicals self referencing, creating unique meta descriptions and page titles and still using the next/prev in the series. Possibly removing category desriptions from paginated pages so that the product listings act as the unique content for the page.
This is the approach I've used, but I'm still learning and I don't think what I'm seeing is correct?

Continuing the example above, Google has indexed the following:
/products/shoes
/products/shoes&page=1
/products/shoes&page=2
/products/shoes&page=3

On the console it categories the paginated pages as "indexed, not submitted in sitemap". I didn't expect Google to index the paginated pages but recognise them as part of a series belonging to /products/shoes?
 
Community

Community

Administrator
Staff member
If you've set the canonical as self referencing then each individual pagination URL will be indexed.

Providing you are making each page in the series unique then in theory it should be ok ( from what we previously understood to be what Google wanted.

So something like this would be page 3 :

Code:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.co.uk/basecat/shoes.html?p=3" />
<link rel="prev" href="https://www.example.co.uk/basecat/shoes.html?p=2" />
<link rel="next" href="https://www.example.co.uk/basecat/shoes.html?p=4" />
Google now indicates they do not use the next/prev and consider each page as a self standing page, which means it needs to add value.

If you set the canonical as the first / primary category page or set the canonical to the "view all" page instead. That's when pagination pages wouldnt be indexed, but obviously that has its own complications if you have alot of products spanning over 10's of paginated pages.
 
M

macB

New Member
Code:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.co.uk/basecat/shoes.html?p=3" />
<link rel="prev" href="https://www.example.co.uk/basecat/shoes.html?p=2" />
<link rel="next" href="https://www.example.co.uk/basecat/shoes.html?p=4" />
That's exactly how I've done it.

Leads to a few further questions (if you wouldn't mind):

1) /products/shoes & /products/shoes?page=1 result in the same page, so the canoncial tag for page 1 should be /products/shoes?

2) Does the extra URLs for the paginated pages take away from the crawl budget? I ask this because I have 300 pages in the sitemap which Google still categorises as "crawled - not currently indexed"?
 
Community

Community

Administrator
Staff member
1. the base category canonical should ideally be /products/shoes , there should be no reason to have ? at the end and certainly not ?page=1

2. I personally don't include categories in my sitemaps and including or excluding in the sitemap would have no effect on crawl budget as the sitemap is only a guide to tell google a URL is there and how often its changed.

The fact URL's are crawled but not indexed could be a number of reasons, most common being that Google considers another page more relevant/authoritative for the same use, which can indicate pages which do not have much internal linking/navigational weight and/or thin, duplicate content.
 
M

macB

New Member
Thank you so much for your help and advice, I need to make a few changes!
 

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