Webmaster level: Intermediate to Advanced

Much like rel=”canonical” acts a strong hint for duplicate content, you can now use the HTML link elements rel=”next” and rel=”prev” to indicate the relationship between component URLs in a paginated series. Throughout the web, a paginated series of content may take many shapes—it can be an article divided into several component pages, or a product category with items spread across several pages, or a forum thread divided into a sequence of URLs. Now, if you choose to include rel=”next” and rel=”prev” markup on the component pages within a series, you’re giving Google a strong hint that you’d like us to:
  • Consolidate indexing properties, such as links, from the component pages/URLs to the series as a whole (i.e., links should not remain dispersed between page-1.html, page-2.html, etc., but be grouped with the sequence).
  • Send users to the most relevant page/URL—typically the first page of the series.


The relationship between component URLs in a series can now be indicated to Google through rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.

There’s an exception to the rel=”prev” and rel=”next” implementation: If, alongside your series of content, you also offer users a view-all page, or if you’re considering a view-all page, please see our post on View-all in search results for more information. Because view-all pages are most commonly preferred by searchers, we do our best to surface this version when appropriate in results rather than a component page (component pages are more likely to surface with rel=”next” and rel=”prev”).

If you don’t have a view-all page or you’d like to override Google returning a view-all page, you can use rel="next" and rel="prev" as described in this post.

For information on paginated configurations that include a view-all page, please see our post on View-all in search results.

Outlining your options

Here are three options for a series:
  1. Leave whatever you have exactly as-is. Paginated content exists throughout the web and we’ll continue to strive to give searchers the best result, regardless of the page’s rel=”next”/rel=”prev” HTML markup—or lack thereof.
  2. If you have a view-all page, or are considering a view-all page, see our post on View-all in search results.
  3. Hint to Google the relationship between the component URLs of your series with rel=”next” and rel=”prev”. This helps us more accurately index your content and serve to users the most relevant page (commonly the first page). Implementation details below.

Implementing rel=”next” and rel=”prev”

If you prefer option 3 (above) for your site, let’s get started! Let’s say you have content paginated into the URLs:

http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=1
http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2
http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3
http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=4

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

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

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

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

A few points to mention:
  • The first page only contains rel=”next” and no rel=”prev” markup.
  • Pages two to the second-to-last page should be doubly-linked with both rel=”next” and rel=”prev” markup.
  • The last page only contains markup for rel=”prev”, not rel=”next”.
  • rel=”next” and rel=”prev” values can be either relative or absolute URLs (as allowed by the <link> tag). And, if you include a <base> link in your document, relative paths will resolve according to the base URL.
  • rel=”next” and rel=”prev” only need to be declared within the <head> section, not within the document <body>.
  • We allow rel=”previous” as a syntactic variant of rel=”prev” links.
  • rel="next" and rel="previous" on the one hand and rel="canonical" on the other constitute independent concepts. Both declarations can be included in the same page. For example, http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2&sessionid=123 may contain:

    <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2”/>
    <link rel="prev" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=1&sessionid=123" />
    <link rel="next" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3&sessionid=123" />

  • rel=”prev” and rel=”next” act as hints to Google, not absolute directives.
  • When implemented incorrectly, such as omitting an expected rel="prev" or rel="next" designation in the series, we'll continue to index the page(s), and rely on our own heuristics to understand your content.

Questions?
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