Let’s find out how to fix pagination errors with rel=next/prev tags and correct canonical page selection.
What Does Canonical And Rel=Next/Prev Problem Means?
This error means that in a paginated URL, the rel = next and rel = prev tags are not used, and the canonical attribute is missing.
Setting the rel = next and rel = prev markup is the most common method of pagination. The next/prev elements indicate the relationship between URLs of different parts of the list to search engines and determine the logical sequence in which they are displayed. With the right pagination settings with the canonical attribute, a user sees the content divided into numbered sections, which can be followed sequentially or selectively, and pages are indexed with all the content in full. This helps prevent duplicates from appearing in searches.
You can check your site for duplicate content, title, description, link canonicalization errors, and problematic pages by using Google Search Console tools. The results will be available in the Index Coverage Report.
What triggers this issue?
The problem may be caused by certain pagination optimization strategies. The most common mistakes made when setting up pagination:
- the first page on the list is marked as canonical;
- rel=next/prev markup is not used;
- noindex and nofollow tags are used to prevent indexing of pages included in the list;
- pagination pages are not scanned due to directives in the robots.txt file;
- there are several rel=next and rel=prev on the same page;
- the sequence of elements is broken;
- the rel=next/prev markup is applied to pages that are not broken into lists.
How to check the issue?
You can obtain information about pagination issues by checking the indexing of links in the Google Search Console report. The Index Coverage report allows you to monitor the full range of possible issues with external and internal link indexing, identify duplicate content, which may be an indication of pagination violations.
More details are in the video by Daniel Waisberg from Google.
If you find URLs without pagination, it is advisable to check the settings in the source code of the page.
Example of pagination
o make it clearer, let’s look at a list of three pages.
The first page has only the rel=next attribute.
<link rel=”next” href=”example-site.com/page/2/>
Starting with the second page, the code contains the rel=next and rel=prev attributes.
<link rel=”next” href=”example-site.com/page/1/>
<link rel=”prev” href=”example-site.com/page/3/>
The rel = prev tag indicates that this is one of the paginated pages, but not the first. This order must be maintained regardless of the number of pages in the directory.
The final page of the list contains only the rel=prev attribute.
<link rel=”prev” href=”example-site.com/page/2/>
The example above confirms that all pages in the series are related.
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Why is this important?
Of course, quality pagination is good for the site. Without proper pagination, search crawlers will not be able to scan all the pages in the directory, which means that some of them will not be indexed.
In addition, pagination is necessary to speed up the loading of pages with a large number of elements as well as for usability and improving user interaction with the site.
It was previously believed that pagination directly affects ranking, but Google has recently disproved this assertion. However, sequential numbering allows you to break similar content into groups (listings of online store goods, thematic articles) and arrange its display in SERPs.
How to fix the issue?
Google recommends linking the main pagination page to itself and making it canonical for the other pages of the list by setting the rel=canonical attribute on them. All subsequent pages will link to the main page.
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example-site.com/blouse.html?page=2″ />
Another option is to setup canonicalization on the page where all content is displayed.