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Debate on the Use of View All and Pagination Tags

18 January, 2012

pagination designs and tags

Following on from last week’s blog on multilingual content tags, I am now picking up on another recent development from Google’s coding team: Pagination Tags.

If your website contains content that is split over a number of pages, it is important that all the pages relating to that content are arranged and coded properly to ensure that both human readers and search engine crawlers are able to navigate it easily. An example of this might be a website that contains long news articles, excerpts from books or research papers.

If your article is split over numerous pages, it is important to make this clear to search engines, and to order the pages with the appropriate navigation tags.

If you do not do this, one of the following things can happen:

  1. Search engines do not know what order the pages are in, and may return them in the wrong order, so reader comprehension is compromised
  2. Search engines fail to rank the pages as they do not appear to be ordered correctly or to make sense in terms of their content
  3. Search engines only return some or just one of the pages (the ones that are most keyword rich) so the reader misses out on parts of the article

It is therefore very important to order your pages correctly.

Previously, there were two options for doing this:

(1)   Create a ‘Contents’ or ‘View All’ Page

This involves inserting a Contents or View All page at the beginning of the article (as page one), and listing all the main headings with hyperlinks to the appropriate pages later in the article. Having a view all page has the advantage that all the article’s main topics are summarized on one page, which helps readers and researchers to scan through for relevant content and navigate easily. It also allows search engines to see all the key headings in one place, so they may rank higher for this reason. However, as the page is only a summary, it won’t be scored for SEO on all the article content. Important information in the body text won’t be analysed by crawlers.

(2)   Include ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ Tabs

Another way of ordering multiple page articles and allowing readers to click through from one page to the next easily, is to include ‘previous’ and ‘next’ options at the intersection for each page.

If you choose this option, check the pages are numbered in the correct order, and make sure that the first page doesn’t have a ‘previous’ option, and the last page doesn’t have a ‘next’. This may sound obvious, but it is an important last check to make, as just one small coding error in the ordering instructions can prevent search engines from being able to rank your whole article. Any inaccuracies will be reflected in a poor page ranking score.

Do Pagination Tabs solve the View All SEO Problem?

View All Pagination Tags

The second option has obvious advantages over the first, but until Google introduced Pagination tabs to its ranking system, it had been difficult to ensure that all pages of an article were ordered correctly.

Now, If you don’t want to use a Contents or View All page, you can use the new attributes rel=”next” and rel=”prev” to link multiple pages from an article into a single series. This means that all the article content will grouped together in the right order, and the most relevant page will be ranked highest, so this is the one that Google will return first for a search query.

There’s some great infographics explaining all of this here.

To View All or not to View All?

As Google’s primary concern in the user experience, they still recommend that we use a Contents or View All page (as well as rel=”next” and rel=”prev”), as this helps readers scan for relevant content rather than reading it all. However, if you, as a website owner, want your website visitors to read all your content, you might disagree.

I’m interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on this one.

What method do you think is best and why?  Please share your comments in the box below.

UPDATE 14/3/12

Google have just released a video discussing the basics and this should help answer some questions you may have ( if you can’t see the video below here is the link)

  • […] the Debate on the Use of View All and Pagination Tags, I gave a basic overview of the pros and cons of using a View All index page, and linking multiple […]

    1. […] the Debate on the Use of View All and Pagination Tags, I gave a basic overview of the pros and cons of using a View All index page, and linking multiple […]

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