Friday, September 16, 2011

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Pagination with rel=“next” and rel=“prev”

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 05:09 AM PDT

Webmaster level: Intermediate to Advanced

Much like rel="canonical" acts a strong hint for duplicate content, you can now use the HTML link elements rel="next" and rel="prev" to indicate the relationship between component URLs in a paginated series. Throughout the web, a paginated series of content may take many shapes—it can be an article divided into several component pages, or a product category with items spread across several pages, or a forum thread divided into a sequence of URLs. Now, if you choose to include rel="next" and rel="prev" markup on the component pages within a series, you're giving Google a strong hint that you'd like us to:
  • Consolidate indexing properties, such as links, from the component pages/URLs to the series as a whole (i.e., links should not remain dispersed between page-1.html, page-2.html, etc., but be grouped with the sequence).
  • Send users to the most relevant page/URL—typically the first page of the series.

The relationship between component URLs in a series can now be indicated to Google through rel="next" and rel="prev".

There's an exception to the rel="prev" and rel="next" implementation: If, alongside your series of content, you also offer users a view-all page, or if you're considering a view-all page, please see our post on View-all in search results for more information. Because view-all pages are most commonly preferred by searchers, we do our best to surface this version when appropriate in results rather than a component page (component pages are more likely to surface with rel="next" and rel="prev").

If you don't have a view-all page or you'd like to override Google returning a view-all page, you can use rel="next" and rel="prev" as described in this post.

For information on paginated configurations that include a view-all page, please see our post on View-all in search results.

Outlining your options

Here are three options for a series:
  1. Leave whatever you have exactly as-is. Paginated content exists throughout the web and we'll continue to strive to give searchers the best result, regardless of the page's rel="next"/rel="prev" HTML markup—or lack thereof.
  2. If you have a view-all page, or are considering a view-all page, see our post on View-all in search results.
  3. Hint to Google the relationship between the component URLs of your series with rel="next" and rel="prev". This helps us more accurately index your content and serve to users the most relevant page (commonly the first page). Implementation details below.

Implementing rel="next" and rel="prev"

If you prefer option 3 (above) for your site, let's get started! Let's say you have content paginated into the URLs:

On the first page,, you'd include in the <head> section:
<link rel="next" href=">

On the second page,
<link rel="prev" href="" />
<link rel="next" href="" />

On the third page,
<link rel="prev" href="" />
<link rel="next" href="" />

And on the last page,
<link rel="prev" href="" />

A few points to mention:
  • The first page only contains rel="next" and no rel="prev" markup.
  • Pages two to the second-to-last page should be doubly-linked with both rel="next" and rel="prev" markup.
  • The last page only contains markup for rel="prev", not rel="next".
  • rel="next" and rel="prev" values can be either relative or absolute URLs (as allowed by the <link> tag). And, if you include a <base> link in your document, relative paths will resolve according to the base URL.
  • rel="next" and rel="prev" only need to be declared within the <head> section, not within the document <body>.
  • We allow rel="previous" as a syntactic variant of rel="prev" links.
  • rel="next" and rel="previous" on the one hand and rel="canonical" on the other constitute independent concepts. Both declarations can be included in the same page. For example, may contain:

    <link rel="canonical" href=""/>
    <link rel="prev" href="" />
    <link rel="next" href="" />

  • rel="prev" and rel="next" act as hints to Google, not absolute directives.
  • When implemented incorrectly, such as omitting an expected rel="prev" or rel="next" designation in the series, we'll continue to index the page(s), and rely on our own heuristics to understand your content.

More information can be found in our Help Center, or join the conversation in our Webmaster Help Forum!

View-all in search results

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 05:08 AM PDT

Webmaster level: Intermediate to Advanced

User testing has taught us that searchers much prefer the view-all, single-page version of content over a component page containing only a portion of the same information with arbitrary page breaks (which cause the user to click "next" and load another URL).

Searchers often prefer the view-all vs. paginated content with arbitrary page breaks and worse latency.

Therefore, to improve the user experience, when we detect that a content series (e.g. page-1.html, page-2.html, etc.) also contains a single-page version (e.g. page-all.html), we're now making a larger effort to return the single-page version in search results. If your site has a view-all option, there's nothing you need to do; we'll work to do it on your behalf. Also, indexing properties, like links, will be consolidated from the component pages in the series to the view-all page.

However, high latency can make the view-all less preferred

Interestingly, the cases when users didn't prefer the view-all page were correlated with high latency (e.g., when the view-all page took a while to load, say, because it contained many images). This makes sense because we know users are less satisfied with slow results. So while a view-all page is commonly desired, as a webmaster it's important to balance this preference with the page's load time and overall user experience.

Best practices for a series of content
  1. If your site includes view-all pages

    We aim to detect the view-all version of your content and, if available, its associated component pages. There's nothing more you need to do! However, if you'd like to make it more explicit to us, you can include rel="canonical" from your component pages to your view-all to increase the likelihood that we detect your series of pages appropriately.

    rel="canonical" can specify the superset of content (i.e. the view-all page) from the same information in a series of URLs.

    Why does this work?

    In the diagram, page-2.html of a series may specify the canonical target as page-all.html because page-all.html is a superset of page-2.html's content. When a user searches for a query term and page-all.html is selected in search results, even if the query most related to page-2.html, we know the user will still see page-2.html's relevant information within page-all.html.

    On the other hand, page-2.html shouldn't designate page-1.html as the canonical because page-2.html's content isn't included on page-1.html. It's possible that a user's search query is relevant to content on page-2.html, but if page-2.html's canonical is set to page-1.html, the user could then select page-1.html in search results and find herself in a position where she has to further navigate to a different page to arrive at the desired information. That's a poor experience for the user, a suboptimal result from us, and it could also bring poorly targeted traffic to your site.

    However, if you strongly desire your view-all page not to appear in search results: 1) make sure the component pages in the series don't include rel="canonical" to the view-all page, and 2) mark the view-all page as "noindex" using any of the standard methods.
  2. If you'd like to surface individual, component pages (or there's no view-all available)

    It may be the case that one or both of the situations below apply to your site:

    • The view-all page is undesirable as a search result (e.g., load time too high or too difficult for users to navigate).
    • Your users prefer the multi-page experience and to be directed to a component page in search results, rather than the view-all page.

    If so, you can use standard HTML rel="next" and rel="prev" elements to specify a relationship between the component pages in your series of content. If done correctly, Google will generally strive to:

    • Consolidate indexing properties, such as links, between the component pages/URLs.
    • Send users to the most relevant page/URL from the component pages. Typically, the most relevant page is the first page of your content, but our algorithms may point users to one of the component pages in the series.

It's not uncommon for webmasters to incorrectly use rel="canonical" from component pages to the first page of their series (e.g. page-2.html with rel="canonical" to page-1.html). We recommend against this implementation because the component pages don't actually contain duplicate content. Using rel="next" and rel="prev" is far more appropriate.


Because users generally prefer the view-all option in search results, we're making more of an effort to properly detect and serve this version to searchers. If you have a series of content, there's nothing more you need to do. If you'd like to hint more to Google how best to serve users your information:
  1. To better optimize your view-all page, you can use rel="canonical" from component pages to the single-page version; otherwise,
  2. If a view-all page doesn't provide a good user experience for your site, you can use the rel="next" and rel="prev" attributes as a strong hint for Google to identify the series of pages and still surface a component page in results.


As always, feel free to ask in our Webmaster Help Forum.

Reconsideration requests get more transparent

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 04:30 AM PDT

Webmaster level: All

If your site isn't appearing in Google search results, or it's performing more poorly than it once did (and you believe that it does not violate our Webmaster Guidelines), you can ask Google to reconsider your site. Over time, we've worked to improve the reconsideration process for webmasters. A couple of years ago, in addition to confirming that we had received the request, we started sending a second message to webmasters confirming that we had processed their request. This was a huge step for webmasters who were anxiously awaiting results. Since then, we've received feedback that webmasters wanted to know the outcome of their requests. Earlier this year, we started experimenting with sending more detailed reconsideration request responses and the feedback we've gotten has been very positive!

Now, if your site is affected by a manual spam action, we may let you know if we were able to revoke that manual action based on your reconsideration request. Or, we could tell you if your site is still in violation of our guidelines. This might be a discouraging thing to hear, but once you know that there is still a problem, it will help you diagnose the issue.

If your site is not actually affected by any manual action (this is the most common scenario), we may let you know that as well. Perhaps your site isn't being ranked highly by our algorithms, in which case our systems will respond to improvements on the site as changes are made, without your needing to submit a reconsideration request. Or maybe your site has access issues that are preventing Googlebot from crawling and indexing it. For more help debugging ranking issues, read our article about why a site may not be showing up in Google search results.

We've made a lot of progress on making the entire reconsideration request process more transparent. We aren't able to reply to individual requests with specific feedback, but now many webmasters will be able to find out if their site has been affected by a manual action and they'll know the outcome of the reconsideration review. In an ideal world, Google could be completely transparent about how every part of our rankings work. However, we have to maintain a delicate balance: trying to give as much information to webmasters as we can without letting spammers probe how to do more harm to users. We're happy that Google has set the standard on tools, transparency, and communication with site owners, but we'll keep looking for ways to do even better.

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