Take a look at the search engine results pages, forums, personal blogs, and discussion boards. At the bottom of the page are icons or buttons directing readers/viewers to the next and previous pages of the search engine results, forums, blog posts, and discussion threads. These buttons are pagination tags or often referred to as the ref=”prev” and ref=”next” attributes.
You might think that this is nothing new at all but actually, these were only implemented by Google in September 2011; and now Bing follows suit.
Caption: The “Prev” and “Next” functions of the pagination tags, ref=”prev” and ref=”next”.
Bing recommends that these attributes be used for web pages whose contents are too long, they need to be split into multiple pages for aesthetics’ sake. This is frequently done in health and beauty websites wherein each step of how-to articles or each item in a skin-care regimen article are given their own individual pages.
This can also be done in news feeds, blog rolls, and other similar sites should the administrators want their readers to view articles/web pages in a particular sequence. A news blog, for example, is likely to sequence its published articles from most recent to the oldest.
The sequence is very easy to add in the HTML page. Here is an example on how to encode the attributes for Article 2 in a news feed:
< link rel="next" href="newsblog_Article3.html"/>
< link rel="prev" href="newsblog_Article1.html" />
Here is a visual on how the attributes will look like and how they are meant to function in a series of web pages:
Not So Much Like Google
Bing has been unfortunately, and sometimes unfairly, compared with Google in many aspects even including its implementation of the ref=”prev” and ref=”next” attributes. While both search engine domains are now advising websites to integrate these tags for their multi-page content and so forth, each of them have a different purpose for it.
Google recognizes the pages linked by these attributes as parts of a whole. It will therefore recognize the entire cluster as a single entity and index them as such. This simplifies things for their crawlers and they wouldn’t have to index each page in the sequence (except for the canonical page indicated in the link generated from the SERPs) and do a redundant job. One example is a page where you have to click on “Next” to see the full contents of the article.
Bing on the other hand intends to consider the content of every page in the sequence. The ref=”prev” and ref=”next” attributes will not cluster the sequenced pages for a single indexing task. Its purpose is mostly to increase user friendliness and give Bing an idea on how the pages of a website are structured. This will help in crawling the pages, not to mention give the website additional points for PR for having a well-structured webpage.
According to Bing’s Duane Forrester, this will allow them to discover more pages (since they will index each of those sequenced pages, as opposed to Google who will just consolidate them) and therefore provide searchers with more enhanced search results.
Basically, implementing the pagination attributes will benefit you in one way or another, be it through the eyes of Bing or Google. If nothing else, you’ll be pleasing your readers with this thoughtful act of providing them easy-access links to the rest of the web pages they ought to visit in sequence. That should translate to something good in the future, especially since search engines are now geared towards improving user experience.
Tips for a More Effective Web Page Sequencing
Here are additional tips that website administrators ought to keep in mind when inserting the rel=”prev” and rel=”next” attributes in their web pages.
1. Don’t implement more than one set of rel=”prev” and rel=”next” attributes in a single page. This is very risky and could possibly muck up the entire sequencing of your pages. If you really want to refer your readers to a page where these attributes are already in place, just provide a link leading to that page or simply advise your readers to look for that particular article.
2. Don’t loop a sequence by leading readers back to the index page after they go through the last page. Although this isn’t a big deal reader-wise, this makes the sequence quite ambiguous for the search engine. Crawlers will have a hard time determining which page is the start and which is the end.
3. The first page in the sequence should ideally have the rel=”next” attribute while the last page in the sequence can have the rel=”prev” attribute only.
4. Be sure to properly sequence a multi-page content. If an article spans more than one web page, readers should be directed to the next/previous page of the article, not the next article published in the blog or website.
5. These attributes must be inserted in the in the header section (i.e., within < head> < /head>) since this is the only place where they will be recognized.
This is a guest post and the views of the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of this site. Traian Neacsu, is a professional search engine optimizer who writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a top rated SEO company that provides search engine optimization services to businesses across North America. For more information please visit www.pitstopmedia.com