The use of the rel=”canonical” attribute in conjunction with pagination has always been a topic of active discussion among webmasters. The multiple issues that webmasters faced with pagination was taken up by Google and they have introduced two new things.
- Changed how Google detects and cluster components with a “view all” page.
- Introduced new rel attributes so that the webmasters can specify the components of a paginated series.
These changes were discussed at length in the SMX East New York 2011 too. So, here are the details regarding these changes.
The New Google Approach To View All Pages:
The search engine giant has been working on their ways to detect a series of component pages and the corresponding view all page. Now what Google does is, that it clusters the view all page and paginated URLs ( with a detectable pattern) and consolidates the PageRank value and indexing relevance. This works on the basis that all of the paginated URLs are taken up as components in a series that comes together on the view all page. Google has observed that the best experience for searchers is to rank the view all page in search results. And as a webmaster, you can aid by using the rel=”canonical” attribute to lead all pages to the view all version.
In case you don't want the view all page to rank, then you can block the view all version with robots.txt or meta noindex. Or you can use the new rel=”next”/rel=”prev” attributes to make sure that the view all page is not ranked. And the individual paginated URLs are ranked.
The New Pagination Options Launched By Google:
This option is for those webmasters, who don’t have a view all page, or you do not want the view all page to come up in search results, then the answer for you is- using the new attributes rel=”next” and rel=”prev”. This will allow you to cluster all of the component pages into a single series. This will mean that once the most relevant page in the series will rank for each query. This will really help your cause won't it?
Where Can You Use It?
Google says that these attributes are OK for article, product lists, and any other types of pagination. In this new option, your first page of the series has only a rel=”next” attribute and the last page of the series has a rel=”prev” attribute. Where as the rest of the pages have both the attributes.
How Will Google See This?
All these component pages will be seen as series by Google and the first page of the series will rank. But this must be clear to you that at times the more relevant page will rank instead.
According to Google, even in the case of non canonical URL , ensure that the value of rel=”next” and rel=”prev” match the URL. This is necessary because the rel/next values in the series must match.
Explore more and look closely in the webmaster blog. This new option may turn out good for you!