Using rel=”prev” and “next” and Canonical Tags for Pagination  

I’ve been thinking a lot about pagination and how to navigate the rel=”next/prev” and canonical tags. I wrote a fairly detailed article about how I think rel=next, rel=prev and canonical tags should be implemented over on the Ironworks blog.

I wanted to re-iterate some of the basic points that article attempts to address here in my own blog.

Do not use the canonical tag to point back to Page 1

I get that the idea is that you might think page=2 is considered duplicate content as the page 1 landing page you want to rank. It’s a valid concern and you might be right to some degree. However, using the canonical tag here just doesn’t do what you think it ought to. Remember that the canonical tag is acting like a redirect a “soft 301″ if you will. Imagine what would happen to a crawler if you used a regular 301 back to the first page every time a crawler hit page 2. See where I’m going with this?

Rel=next/prev are doing the heavy lifting

The Next/Prev tags are actually now performing the function we may have thought the canonical tag was doing for us when it comes to pagination. They’re consolidating all the indexing information into one aggregate. That’s kinda like what we though the canonical tag would do, right? It removes any sense of competition or duplication by creating a sort of “view all” version of the result set for the search engine.

So that’s the short answer. Read the Ironworks article for more details…

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