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Few days ago Google came up with a post on URLs with parameters. The post can be found here: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/07/improved-handling-of-urls-with.html

Now, my website uses WordPress blogging platform, and the blog post from Google is inclined towards the e-commerce sites. However, I was wondering if I should follow the pagination rule for my site to make sure duplicate content isn't picked up by the Google bots.

My site has URLs for pages are like this: http://blogote.com/page/3/

Should I be worried? Should I leave it as it is?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

TL;DR:
You shouldn't be worried. Google will find your content fine.


Long Answer:
Pagination for e-commerce is slightly different to pagination for content sites, mostly due to content is broken into paginated chunks from the whole. Where things get similar (in terms of duplicate content) is when you have paginated pages of tags, categories or posts - where these tags, categories and posts/pages have their own 'home'.

Google's primary focus in the post you linked to was dealing with URL parameters to provide a refinement and sorting function to handle the many ways in which products on an e-commerce site can be displayed. The reason for Google offering this service is to ensure it's not wasting it's effort on crawling pages that it already has crawled (it's pitch to webmasters is that each site has a "crawl budget" that could be wasted by exposing refinement/filtering pages).

In terms of pure pagination issues that any site has, e-commerce or not, there are a number of methods to offset duplicate content problems (none of which, it seems, is the best approach).

Let's take a look at your options:

  1. Google Webmaster Tools parameter handling service - as you linked to. This is a Google only service that provides hints/instructions to Google - it's effectiveness is untested at this stage, but it serves Google more that it serves your website.
  2. Relevance attributes - using rel="previous" or rel="next" to your pagination links can provide a clear association with a page's siblings. Recently reinforced in the HTML5 spec. While not a proven concept, should be used as a matter of best practice.
  3. Relevance meta - similar to relevance attributes, these tags are provided in the head of the HTML that provide association with other pages.
  4. Pagination using AJAX - presenting the whole page and then using JavaScript or AJAX to break that page up has been a method that has worked for many enterprise systems.
  5. Rel="nofollow" - similar to the relevance attributes above in that it's applied at the link level, but this method is one that should only be used rarely and in special circumstances as it doesn't give the appropriate signal to search engines - effectively "nofollow" is a down-vote for your own content and the link value isn't transferred - but crawling/indexing still occurs.
  6. Meta Noindex - applied at the page level, this instructs the search engines to crawl, but not index the paginated pages, meaning that the content is crawled and discovered, but the page won't appear in search results. It's a common method but has the downfall of not surfacing content relevant in the query if implemented wrongly (i.e. without an accompanying rel="canonical" tag)
  7. Canonical Link Element - this "hint" is widely adopted and accepted by the major search engines and provides a good way of artificially amalgamating a set of pages under one canonical URL to be presented in search results. Recommended if you have issues with site architecture or implementing other methods (my personal belief is that every page should contain a rel="canonical" tag.)
  8. WordPress specific solutions - Can't go past this great article from Joost - I also recommend his awesome SEO plugin for WordPress.
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Hi Mike, I can't thank you enough for the detailed explanation. I think yes, Google knows how to deal with the pages. After looking at dozens of different sites, which are very popular, I have come to the conclusion not to add the rel="nofollow" attribute. On the other hand, I have been using Yoast SEO Plugin, and it does an excellent job in handling most of the SEO aspects of the blog. I think I'll stick with what you said "You Shouldn't be worried." Because of the duplicate issues, I have removed all the tags -- over 1000 of them -- from the blog. Let's see how this affects the traffic. –  Sid Jul 27 '11 at 3:48

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