When Should I Use rel=”prev” and rel=”next”?

We all know that categorizing and organizing content and pages is important not just to improve user experience, but also to help search engines better index our website’s pages and content. For some industries, organization can be quite complicated. For eCommerce industries, there’s always the question of whether or not it’s okay to display the same products multiple times.

The answer, in short, is that it’s completely fine to display a product in multiple categories. For instance, if you have: /womens, womens/shoes, womens/shoes/sandals. However, webmasters should make sure that they use an rel=”canonical” tag to tell search engines that this isn’t duplicate content, it’s categorized content.

However, if you have multiple pages of one subcategory or category, then you will need to use an rel-“prev” and rel=”next” tag to indicate to search engines that the following pages of products should be lumped into the first page. According to Google Webmaster’s blog, by using this markup, you are:

  • Telling Google that all of these pages should be indexed as a group, instead of as separate pages.
  • Telling Google to send users to the first page of the group or category and then list the subsequent products after as a “load more” or “read more” option.

If you’ve decided to organize your products this way, here’s how to implement these tags:

On the first page, https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=1, you’d include in the <head> section:
<link rel="next" href="https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2" />

On the second page, https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2:
<link rel="prev" href="https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=1" />
<link rel="next" href="https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3" />

On the third page, https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3:
<link rel="prev" href="https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2" />
<link rel="next" href="https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=4" />

And on the last page, https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=4:
<link rel="prev" href="https://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3" />

Still not sure how to implement this on your eCommerce site? It’s best to contact an SEO company such as Boston Web Marketing who can implement these tags for you properly to improve your search results.

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