Definitive-Guide-to-Ecommerce-SEO-Pagination-Cover-Photo

Definitive Guide to Ecommerce SEO Pagination

Table of Contents

Pagination SEO. What It Is and Some Ecommerce Examples

Pagination, in simple terms, is how a product list or content that doesn’t fit easily on a searcher’s screen is displayed on a web page on your online store.

Let’s say you sell 90 different products under one category. How would you break them down into digestible chunks?

Applying pagination and SEO best practices, you could show 9 pages with 10 items each. (You could also display all the 90 products on the same web page using Infinite Scroll. But we will cover only pagination in this blog post.)

Some Ecommerce Examples of Pagination and SEO

Definitive-Guide-to-Ecommerce-SEO-Pagination-Examples

In the examples above, you can see that the products have been displayed on discrete pages, thus presenting them in an organised and digestible manner. This method of displaying products is advantageous as searchers are familiar with it. The design is similar to that of conventional book pagination.

Which Site Pages Are Usually Paginated?

You’ll frequently find pagination on the pages of ecommerce stores, specifically their category pages. These pages typically comprise the titles, descriptions, and thumbnails of the products that the store sells.

The length of a category page will keep increasing as the number of products assigned to this category goes up. Pagination permits ecommerce stores to convert a long category page into multiple, shorter pages.

Conventional content-oriented websites such as news and blog sites use pagination to split a single long page of content into several smaller pages, or to spread articles published over time across several paginated pages.

Definitive-Guide-to-Ecommerce-SEO-Pagination-Competing-Pages

Positive-Effects of Pagination for SEO

When done correctly, pagination can be positive for SEO.

    1. Pagination improves the quality of your store’s usability. Shoppers can perceive the information even if your store has endless category pages and products.

 

    1. Another huge positive is pagination improves loading speed, spreading resource-heavy images across several pages.

 

  1. Clear product positioning and organisation improves behavioural factors. It helps a shopper return to where they left off. This, in turn, improves User experience and Time on Page (also known as SEO Dwell Time). Most shoppers get confused by endless content on a page. Infinite scroll is likely to make them indecisive.


Shoppers typically prefer more structured stores. Amazon is the first ecommerce store that comes to mind. It’s highly structured even though there are a large number of more or less identical product pages.

Negative-Effects of Pagination for SEO

If pagination is not handled correctly, it can be bad for SEO. Let’s look at some of these negative effects.

1. Pagination Undermines Ranking Signals

Though the Google Search Guidelines Team has clearly mentioned that there isn’t a limit on the number of links per page, they do suggest keeping URLs per page to a “reasonable limit”, usually at a few thousand.

They also mention that for a Page with a certain Page Rank – the amount of Page rank that flows through various outlinks is divided by the number of outlinks. 

So, if you have a Page Rank of say 50, and there are 50 outlinks flowing out of that page – the Page rank that flows out to each of the 50 links is 50/50 or 1 per page.

As a result, Pagination may cause the indexing properties, especially links, diluted across several component pages, rather than being concentrated to a single page.

2. The Most Important Pages In a Paginated Series May Not Be Reflected in Search Results

As an ecommerce Site Owner or SEO Manager, you may want to send a visitor to the Home Page for a certain eCommerce category, for specific category-level searches. 

However, Search Engine Crawlers may see each page in a Paginated series as a separate entity and may show a completely different page than the one you intended.

3. Pagination May Cause Duplicate Meta Data Issues

If you create an optimised Title and Meta-description for a category page, the same will reflect across the entire paginated series. This, in turn, will be flagged as Duplicate Meta Data across crawling tools such as Screaming Frog, and generate a warning on most SEO Intelligence Tools.

As easy way to fix this is to simply add the Page number at the end of the Title and Meta Description, for each page.

4. Pagination May Lead to Thin Content

This could happen if the focus is not on creating quality page content but on generating banner ad revenue.

For instance, if you split your content across several pages to multiply conversions through views, you’ll end up having inadequate content on each page. And each page will also fare badly in the search engine rankings.

5. Pagination Impacts Crawl Depth Negatively

Shoppers prefer to reach the information that’s of interest to them in the fewest clicks possible. 

That’s the reason Google recommends keeping depth level to a minimum on your store. The search spiders (and shoppers) should be able to reach meaningful content fast—in a minimal number of clicks. Otherwise, the page will perform poorly in search engine rankings.

When you allow Google spiders to crawl paginated pages, it diminishes a portion of your website’s crawl budget.

How to Configure Your Ecommerce Site for Pagination?

The two different Pagination configurations that you can enable on your ecommerce site are:

  1. A View-All Page,
  2. No View-All Page.

Let’s look at the configuration for each type.

a. Paginated Content with View-All Page Available

When there’s paginated content on your site with a view-all page available, you need to test for a couple of things

Firstly, you need to check if your page loading speed/latency is fast enough. You will need to ensure that each time the shopper clicks on the View More button, the additional content loads in less than 4 seconds. One way you could do this is by including the optimal number of products to show up each time the shopper clicks on the View More button.

Secondly, make sure that the page is easily navigable. That is, a shopper should be able to find the specific product they are looking for by quickly scrolling or viewing headings.

Definitive-Guide-to-Ecommerce-SEO-Pagination-View-All-Page

When the pages on your ecommerce store have paginated content and a View-All page, there are three options you could follow.

OPTION 1: LEAVE THE VIEW-ALL PAGE AS IS ​

The first option (and the best one) is to leave the configuration as is since if Google spiders detect a View-All Page, they will return that page instead of any other.

If your ecommerce store has a view-all page available, Google’s crawlers will automatically make an attempt to detect that. They will then consolidate your site’s indexing properties. As a result, this is a very solid option.

Option 2: Add a "Rel = Canonical" from the Paginated Series to “View-All” Page

You can use rel=“canonical” to plainly indicate to Google what your View-all page is. Google does try to detect it algorithmically. But you could also tell them categorically by adding rel=“canonical” on the component pages to your View-All version.

This is actually a clear hint to Google about the configuration of your site.

With the rel=“canonical,” Google will do the following:

  1. Consolidate the indexing signals (links) from all component pages to the View-All Canonical Page
  2. Display the View-All Page in Search Results

Option 3: Use the “Rel = Prev/Next” Markup on Paginated Series

Up until March 21, 2019, you could overrule the View-All page behaviour by including Rel=“next” and Rel=“prev” markup to a Paginated Page series.

This helped Google to consolidate component pages in a series, and send visitors to one component page. Most often, Google would send visitors to page one of your series.

In 2019, Google announced that they do not explicitly recommend using Rel=“next” and rel=“prev” markup since users love Single-Page Content. The below screenshot shows the official Google Search Central Tweet announcement.

Definitive Guide to Ecommerce SEO Pagination Google Announcement

Despite the above announcement by Google, adding Rel= Next/Prev is still a pragmatic option for ecommerce sites in several site niches such as heavy furniture, heavy equipment, as well as for those sites with thousands of products, and IT resources constraints.

We also recommend using the Rel = Next/Prev option on your ecommerce store for a couple of other reasons.

  1. World Wide Consortium (W3C), an organisation that develops modern day web standards, recommends using Rel=Next/Prev on Paginated Site Content to aid with linear page sequences.

  2. Rel=Next/Prev markup is still used by Bing and other Search Engines to better understand Paginated Content

  3. In the Tweet screenshot above, Google does not mention that using Rel=Next/Prev should be discontinued. They simply mention that they’re retiring it as an indexing signal, nudging Site Owners to serve Single-Page Content (which isn’t easily possible for all sites.)

With the rel=“Next/Prev” Markup, Google will likely do the following:

  1. Return the most relevant page in the Paginated Series (often Page 1)
  2. Consolidate the indexing signals of component pages within the series
Ecommerce-SEO-Pagination-With-Rel-Next-Prev-Markup

b. Paginated Content with No View-All Page Available

If you do not have a View-All Page option available to you due to Platform or Resource limitations, then there are two ways in which you may address Pagination on your Site:

Option 1: Leave the Paginated Content As Is

As mentioned above, Search Engine Crawlers will figure it out for your site. This is ideal for very small ecommerce sites that do not have the skills or resources to deal with such issues.

Option 2: Use the “Rel = Prev/Next” Markup on Paginated Pages

This option will connect the component pages in the series, consolidate indexing properties, and return the most relevant category page in Google Search results

The image below illustrates all options available to you for ecommerce pagination:

How-To-Configure-Your-Site-For-Pagination

SEO Pagination Best Practices

1. For Your Pagination Pages, Never Use Noindex and Nofollow

Avoid using the noindex robots command on a Paginated series since this command tells a Search Engine to remove any paginated content from their index. If your web pages haven’t been indexed for a while, search spiders will receive an indication to stop crawling the content on these pages. This could seriously impact the traffic to your ecommerce store negatively.

The same rule is applicable to the nofollow attribute. This command informs search spiders that they are not permitted to crawl the hosted content. When you make this mistake, you simply shut down your pagination pages from search engines.

2. Use Google Search Console to Set Up Pagination

Under the Paginates feature in Google Search Console, customise the pagination parameters. This feature allows you to set the link crawling signals for search spiders (No URLs or Every URL). This option will determine the way you want to use your crawl budget.

Note: Using fragment identifier () for pagination isn’t recommended. When you use (), search spiders cannot crawl these pages and index them. Hence, its use isn’t suitable for search engines.

3. Don’t Include Pagination Pages in Your XML Sitemap

Ideally, you should include only the pages for which you desire to rank in the SERP in your XML sitemap. Most pagination URLs, however, don’t fall under this category.

4. Improve Content Quality on Your Site

Now, this one is so obvious. Google treats all your pagination pages the same. The need to improve the quality of content on all your pages is real. Hence, it’s impossible to save time by duplicating content.

John Mueller, the Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, made a recommendation on this matter on March 22, 2019. He said it’d be helpful if you could ensure all your pagination pages could work independently. That is, when a shopper moves to another section, they should find something useful. 

Due to modifications in the search engine algorithms, pagination is no longer a group of pages from 1 to 10 with different kinds of products. Rather, each section/page must contain relevant information. You could, however, define a priority root page and spend some time optimising it.

The main aim of pagination is to improve the user experience. Therefore, your content should be relevant to the search queries of shoppers. You don’t need unique text content on each page. But focus on eliminating duplicates. Use a third-party service like Copyscape to check the similarity of your pagination pages.

5. Keep a Close Eye on Keyword Cannibalisation

Ensure your pagination pages don’t compete with the root page for similar or identical keywords. This will make the content on each page useful to the shopper and de-optimise it for identical keywords.

Check the performance report generated on Google Search Console. Identify the URLs that need improvement. Alternatively, you can find competing pages using the Pi Datametrics tool.

How Should Ecommerce SEO Pagination URL Structure Be?

Use a clean and simple URL structure that’s easily readable in a sequence. The example shown below has a clear URL structure.

// https.//www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=childrens+dresses&i=fashion&page=3&qid=1629717061&ref=sr_pg_3

When you provide a clear URL structure like this, Google spiders will understand the category archive on your website easily.

In practice, you can do this by simply appending /page/3/ to the end of your category URL. Then, in the URL parameter tool in Google Search Console, you can specify the page parameter paginates. In this case, you can use the parameter ?page=3.

After Google stopped support of prev/next, it’s important that you make it easy for search spiders to understand when your URL is paginated.

What Is Better for Ecommerce SEO – Pagination or Infinite Scroll?

Pagination is better than infinite scroll for ecommerce SEO. The reason is shoppers come to your store looking for specific products. It’s easy for them to find the product they’re looking for when they can search for it systematically. 

Infinite scroll is, however, better suited for aimless browsing like on social media sites, where they’re not looking for anything specific. The user just wants to stay entertained.

Compared with infinite scroll, pagination is better suited for product searching and cataloguing. Consider visitors to an ecommerce store. They are typically looking for a specific type of product (like a dress or face mask). And they’re only interested in viewing the products that are relevant to their query.

But visitors on a social media site aren’t looking for anything specific. They only want some information, or they’re there purely for entertainment. That’s the reason infinite scrolling is better suited for user-generated content sites and news sites.

When you paginate the content on your store, you can trust that shoppers will be familiar with the layout of your store. They won’t have any issues clicking between the pages as long as they’re well organised.

Summary & Additional Reading

Maximising the crawl equity within your ecommerce website is the key to improving SEO performance. In this context, paginated sets of content are practical from a user experience perspective as well as your site architecture. 

But you need a strategic tagging plan. Only then can you show visitors to your store that your content is part of a series. If you are not successful at this, you might fail to exploit the full value of pagination and SEO.

If you found our guidance on ecommerce Pagination insightful, do give it a like and share it with your colleagues. You may also want to review some of these other articles related to ecommerce SEO:

If you’re looking for help and guidance for your ecommerce store, feel free to get in touch with us.

Medha Dixit
[email protected]

Hi, my name is Medha Dixit. I'm an eCommerce SEO Consultant and Founder of Digital Chakra, a UK based Digital Marketing Agency, focused on helping small & mid-sized eCommerce Businesses with SEO and Conversion Optimisation. I'm a Computer Engineer and have an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, India's Top Business School. Solving problems related to SEO & Conversion Optimisation excites me and I hope to make a positive Business Impact through my work. I take pride in what I do and consider myself to be a sponge, absorbing knowledge whilst also constantly striving to build & improve. I have helped UK eCommerce Businesses generate millions in revenue through SEO and Conversion Optimisation. Say hello on LinkedIn or feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]

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