Pagination is an important piece of your site structure and has an impact on your SEO but also on your user usability and so on your user experience. It refers to the practice of segmenting links to content on multiple pages.
Improper pagination can actually lead to SEO penalties.
When is Pagination Necessary?
When you have a lot of content in a category and that your links are all on the same page of results, it can make it hard to navigate. In fact, your users will have to scroll a lot to view all of your links and it can cause load time issues as well as a poor user usability. You will face a really thin scrolling bar, which is obviously inconvenient to use.
Pagination is also necessary to help Google crawls your website. The search engine recommends to keep links on a page below 100, whatever they are internal or external. Above that number of links, it is getting hard for spiders to reach deep pages and to rank them, making pagination mandatory.
How should you organize your listing?
Knowing which structure is the best option can be hard. How many links to content should be displayed on a page / category? How many pages of results should be displayed on the pagination? That is what we are going to answer because there are many different solutions but not all of them are efficient.
- Only showing three pages of results: if you do so, it could take ages to reach the deeper pages of your website which is obviously bad for your crawling and your user usability ;
- Creating a subset listing on a page: it creates a wider range of pages that will have to be analysed which is also not efficient.
You should thus:
- create a reasonable number of listing and linking to all the paginating pages results: this is a more valuable option since it offers a better site architecture to users and crawlers ;
- sometimes there is no other solution than creating subcategories because you have too many pages of results to list them all: adopting this strategy is better for your user usability and your SEO.
However, there are situations where even subcategories are not enough anymore. In these cases, often due to sites with many content, you may need to use extensive pagination in order to not make every page of results reachable in one click. But there are some rules to respect.
- link to just pages in front and at the end of the paginated listings. Your SEO won’t be optimized as your middle pages will be ignored ;
- randomize your paginated results to get your link juice everywhere ; engines crawlers are looking for static website architecture to rank them easily ;
- display a few surrounding paginated links from paginated URLs. The search engine crawlers must be able to analyze deeper from inside the structure ;
- try to link to every paginated result. Crawlers will just see this as spamming and your users as inconvenient.
- link to useful categories and subcategories to keep link juice spreading throughout your site ;
- link back to the top results from each paginated URLs ;
- link to as many pages of the pagination structure as possible but keep in mind the 100 links limit per page ;
- display newer content at the top of the results list if possible because it will distribute the link juice to the newer articles.
How can pagination harm your SEO?
Pagination can harm your SEO because of :
- duplicate content: duplicate content is highly penalized by search engines. Your URLs should be unique. When your pagination is implemented in the wrong way, it can lead to duplicate content issues because your articles and the landing pages that browse access to them are the same.
- crawl depth: ideal page reach must be under 3 clicks. Deep pagination can cause depth issues and lower your pagerank.