Paginated archives have long been a topic of discussion in the SEO community. Over time, best practices for optimization have evolved, and we now have pretty clear definitions. This post explains what these best practices are. It’s good to know that Yoast SEO applies all these rules to every archive with pagination.
Indicate that an archive has pagination
When a search engine crawls page one of an archive, it needs to know it’s a paginated archive. For the longest time, the only way for it to know that something was a paginated archive is when it found a “next” or “previous link”. This was solved by the introduction of
link-elements, to be applied in the head of a page, a topic we’ve written about before.
For a while, there was a discussion in the SEO community about how to combine this with rel canonical. Should page 2 and further of an archive have a
link to page 1, or to itself? The idea was that you mostly want visitors to end up on page 1 of an archive. That page is usually the most relevant for the majority of users.
Google is very clear now: each page within a paginated series should canonicalize to itself, so
/page/2/ has a canonical pointing to
Should page 2 etc. be in the search results?
For a while, SEOs thought it might be a good idea to add a
noindex robots meta tag to page 2 and further of a paginated archive. This would prevent people from finding page 2 and further in the search results. The idea was that the search engine would still follow all these links, so all the linked pages would still be properly indexed.
The problem is that at the end of last year, Google said something that caught our attention: long-term
noindex on a page will lead to them not following links on that page. This makes adding
noindex to page 2 and further of paginated archives a bad idea, as it might lead to your articles no longer getting the internal links they need.
Because of what Google said about long-term
noindex, in Yoast SEO 6.3 we removed the option to add
noindex to subpages of archives.
Annoying SEO side effects
So you can no longer keep page 2 and further out of the search results. This has the annoying side effect that Google Search Console might start to give you warnings. Specifically, it might warn you about duplicate titles and duplicate meta descriptions. You can safely ignore these warnings, a fact I’ve confirmed with Google this week:
Yep, that's fine. It's useful to get feedback on duplicate titles & descriptions if you accidentally use them on totally separate pages, but for paginated series, it's kinda normal & expected to use the same.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) March 13, 2018
I guess, in time, Google will stop showing these warnings for paginated archives in Google Search Console.