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What Is Canonical Pagination in SEO and Best Practices

Canonical pagination is an essential aspect of SEO. It distributes this massive website content into numbered pages. The high volume of website content has to be similar and interrelated. So, canonical pagination splits it into consecutive pages in the correct order.

Blendrit Elezaj


What Is Canonical Pagination in SEO and Best Practices

Canonical pagination is an essential aspect of SEO. It distributes this massive website content into numbered pages. The high volume of website content has to be similar and interrelated. So, canonical pagination splits it into consecutive pages in the correct order.


The number of pages in canonical pagination appears at the bottom or the top of the page. This lets users move from one piece of content to another.

Canonical Pagination Purpose

But why do you need canonical pagination? What’s the purpose of using it?


Canonical pagination has many benefits, such as:


  • Improved user experience on your business website
  • Easier navigation for the customer through the webpage
  • Structured buyers’ journey throughout the webpage

How Does Canonical Pagination Impact SEO?

Factors that impact the visibility of your website in search engines are:


  •  the usability
  •  the indexing 


Canonical pagination contributes to these factors because it divides website content into pages. This leads to the growth of the number of visitors to your website and enhances their experience on it. So, this impacts the usability of your website.


Also, canonical pagination determines the indexing of the important content on your website. So, it is crucial to apply canonical pagination in the right form.

6 Best Practices of Canonical Pagination in SEO

Now, we will reveal the best practices of canonical pagination incorporated by many industry experts.


Use crawlable anchor links

Canonical pagination is useless if Google cannot access the links on your website. So, how do you avoid that? Just make sure the anchor links are crawlable.


You can achieve this by:


  • Adding anchor and closing tags
  • including href attributes
  • Adding a canonical URL pagination


These are the three factors that are canonical for pagination. To achieve canonical pagination, you should use HTML and avoid Javascript.


Also, you can use aspects of rel=” next” and rel=”prev”. You do this to convey the relationship between component URLs in a paginated series. This expression is still valid for search engines like Bing or Google.


For example, a crawlable link to a canonical paginated page would look like this:


 <a href=”https://mydomain.com/catalog/products?page=3’>


Use self-referencing canonical URL for each page

You need to add a canonical URL to each page in the pagination. You do this in cases where you don’t use a View all index for all the paginated content. In this way, each page will refer to itself.


So, you add a self-referencing rel=” canonical” link to the rel=” next” / “prev”  link. 


This will look like this:


 /category?page=4 should rel=”canonical” to /category?page=4.


This is useful because pagination changes the page content. So, it is the main copy of that page.


If the URL has more parameters, you do not include them in the rel=” canonical” link. But include them only on the rel=” prev” / “next” links.


For example:


 <link rel=”next” href=”https://www.example.com/category?page=2&order=newest” />

 <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/category?page=2″ />


This action will create a logical relationship between the pages. The logical relationship will not allow duplicate content on your website.


 Change the on-page elements of paginated pages

John Mueller of Google declared that: 


“We don’t treat pagination differently. We treat them as normal pages.”


This means that Google doesn’t recognize paginated pages as pages of the same content.  So, each paginated page can compete against the root page for ranking.


So, make a slight change to your code. With this, you encourage Google to return the root page into the SERPs. Also, you take this action to prevent “duplicate meta descriptions”.  This also applies to “duplicate title tags” warnings in Google Search Console.


So, if the root page has the formula:


Audi Cars for Sale in Munich


Then, the next consecutive paginated pages could have the formula:


Result Page 2 for Audi Cars for Sale in Munich


Keep these paginated URL page titles and meta descriptions as substandard. In this way, you stop Google from showing these results rather than the root page.


Paginated pages may still rank on the SERPs after all these changes. This can lead to further actions from your side, such as.


  • De-optimizing of  H1 tags of the paginated pages
  • Adding useful on-page text on the root page, not on the paginated pages.
  • Adding a category image with an optimized file name and alt tag to the root page, not on the paginated pages.


 Avoid including paginated pages in XML sitemaps

Paginated pages are indexable. But they aren’t an SEO priority to spend crawl budget on. So you don’t need to put them in your XML sitemap.


If you do this, you shouldn’t allow the search engine to crawl and index those pages. Otherwise, you spend the crawl budget. 


Also, you shouldn’t allow Google to select a random paginated page to rank. This happens because paginated pages aren’t included in XML sitemaps.


Handle Pagination Parameters in Google Search Console

You need to run pagination through a parameter, not by a static URL. For instance:


example.com/category?page=2 over example.com/category/page-2


If you research Googlebot, you can come up with this kind of parameter. This research shows that Googlebot seems to guess URL patterns based on dynamic URLs.  This leads to increased chances of quickly finding a particular URL. 


There is another benefit of the parameter approach. And that benefit is the ability to configure the parameter in Google Search Console to “Paginates”. Also, when needed, you can change the signal to Google to crawl “Every URL” or “No URLs”. This depends on how you wish to use your crawl budget. 


Take it from us: never map the content of the paginated page to fragment identifiers (#). The main reason behind this decision is that it isn’t crawlable, indexable, and not friendly to search engines.


Optimize Meta Tags and Content of the Paginated Pages

John Mueller of Google stated: “We treat paginated pages as normal pages.“ 



By doing this, Google looks at the basic on-page optimization per page. Being aware of this, you need to always optimize page titles and meta descriptions. Take the same action as you would with other pages of content.  


For example:


Add a number within the title of a page to make it unique. So, Google will look at each paginated title as unique. 


Then, continue with the optimization of the content:


  • Use keywords in the paginated web pages
  • Add alt-text to images to optimize search engines and to provide a better user experience.
  • Include keywords in headings, subheadings, and meta descriptions.
  • Use responsive design for mobile visitors.
  • Optimize your pages for speed and a smooth user experience.

At the End

Organizing and presenting content systematically is crucial for enhancing user experience and facilitating efficient navigation through information. Canonical pagination is a valuable tool that helps achieve this goal. Make use of the best practices we explored above and improve your user experience and SEO.

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