Is it bad for SEO to have the page number (dynamically created) at the end of a url?

Should you show only the first page? Or should you show all pages depending on which page closely matches the user's query?

Let's suppose you have a website selling shoes, and you have a page dedicated to Adidas (e.g https://www.shoes.com/adidas). This main page shows 10 shoes - after which each page has an '?page=n' added to the end of the URL - showing 10 each.

Should you show only the first page? Or should you show all pages depending on which page closely matches the user's query? In this blog post we will look at the best practices for setting up pagination attributes for SEO. 

1. Use the pagination attributes : rel="next" and rel="prev" on all pages in the sequence.

Except for the first page and the last page of the sequence - each page in the sequence should have both the rel="next" and rel="prev" paginationation attributes. These pagination attributes should be setup in the head section of the page.

E.g. this page href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=3" should have the following pagination attributes in the head section.

<link rel="prev" href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=2" />
<link rel="next" href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=4" />

Or this page href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=10" should have the following pagination attributes in the head section.

<link rel="prev" href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=9" />
<link rel="next" href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=11" />

The first page in the sequence - e.g href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas" should only have one pagination attributes in the head section.

<link rel="next" href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=2" />

And the last page in the sequence - e.g. href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=100" should also only have one pagination attributes in the head section.

<link rel="prev" href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=99" />

Make sure to do the same for every page in the sequence. 
Your developer can automate this so that you don't have to individually do this on all pages.


2. Setting up canonical tags properly.

Most people setup the canonical tags to point to the first page of the sequence. They do this because all pages in the sequence have identical meta tags (Headers, page titles etc), and therefore adding a canonical tag which points to the first page tells Google that the original page is the first page, and the rest are duplicates. This is a mistake for two reasons.

Firstly, Google does not punish you for having duplicate page titles and meta descriptions on paginated series. Duplicate tags only matter on totally separate page. Here is a tweet regarding the same from John, the webmaster trends analyst at Google.

So make sure that all your canonical links on paginated pages are self-referential. Do not point them to the first page. Another reason for doing this is that the page rank is spread over a series of pages. So, Google will show the most relevant page from the sequence of paginated pages to the user on the SERP.

You don't want to cannibalise this and show only the first page. Instead spread the page rank across all pages of the sequence.

So, for e.g. this page href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=10 should have this canonical tag setup in the head section. 

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=10"/>

And each of the pages - e.g. href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=30 should have similar self-referential canonical tags setup in the head section. 

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.shoes.com/adidas?page=30"/>

In conclusion, you don't want to show only the first page of the paginated series. It's better to show the 10th page on Google, if it means that the 10th page has the exact match for the users query on SERP.


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