Pagination, the breaking up of content across multiple pages, is a common practice and in many cases, a product of good design.

After all, there are plenty of cases where pagination creates a more pleasurable, higher-performing user experience.

But pagination isn't always desirable. Some sites, for instance, employ pagination in a questionable attempt to boost page views, and thus ad impressions.

Now, Google has weighed in on the issue. Last week, it provided publishers with two suggested best practices for pagination:

  • In cases a 'view all' page exists, Google will try to identify the page and its "associated component pages" (read: the pages featuring pagination). To assist Google in identifying the pages, it suggests using a canonical link element pointing to the 'view all' page on the associated component pages.
  • When a 'view all' page doesn't exist, Google suggests using rel=”next” and rel=”prev” elements so that it can identify the proper sequence of paginated pages. From there, Google will try to "send users to the most relevant page/URL from the component pages".

As SiliconFilter's Frederic Lardinois points out, Google seems to hint that it prefers 'view all' pages, as Benjia Li and Joachim Kupke of Google's indexing team note that "user testing has taught us that searchers much prefer the view-all".

The big question: will Google favor sites that have 'view-all' pages, and treat sites that paginate like second-class citizens? If so, some publishers may complain that Google is once again trying to dictate how publishers carry out their business.

But even so, an effort by Google to crack down on what it sees as unnecessary pagination would certainly result in many publishers rethinking their approach to pagination anyway.

Patricio Robles

Published 19 September, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)


Matt Cuthbert

Google isn't "trying to dictate how publishers carry out their business." They're trying to deliver results that their users like the best. Readers hate having to click through page after page to complete a story, so why not favor sites that don't force such a practice?

Besides, since fewer people click through to each subsequent page, sites are shooting themselves in the foot with or without Google stepping in. They might benefit from a small percentage of boosted page views from the people who'll tolerate it, but in the meantime they're paying someone to create content that no one is ever reaching.

almost 7 years ago


James Robertson, Web Marketing Manager at

Sorry? - what? "plenty of cases where pagination creates a more pleasurable, higher-performing user experience." - seriously? - name one!

In every single instance pagination degrades usability; how on earth could being forced to click on a link - which is universally the smallest link on the page in direct inverse relationship to it's overwhelming importance - be considered as an improvement in usability?

And this is without considering the innumerable instances of breaking a page when there is - literally - a single word left in the article.

The only possible reason for these pointless page-breaks is to boost page-views for people too clueless to move to a meaningful site-use metric.

almost 7 years ago


David Prince

James - pagination makes your own blog ( more pleasurable to use - or does that not count? ;-)

I agree with your general sentiment - those paginated MSN/AOL 'top ten' lists are particularly dreadful, for example - but I'd never say that it's undesirable 'in every single instance'.

almost 7 years ago


David Fairhurst

I was always taught that scrolling was a bad idea, that you should focus on the 'above the fold' on websites, which is why pagination used to be seen as a good thing...

Now we're all little more used to using scrollwheels (and especially with the advent of touch screens and tablet PCs) there's no longer any reason to focus upon pagination. Pages should be as long as they need to be.

Google is right on this one - I'd rather focus on getting good quality content onto one page than trying to promote multiple pages. Cuts down on click depth too which on an eCommerce site is all important to stem drop out and increase conversions.

almost 7 years ago


Mat Oram

Yep, agree. I much prefer 'view all'. Sites that don't provide this annoy me

almost 7 years ago

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