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I'm writing a very long tutorial that just can't fit in one page--it would make the page heavier than 1MB, so I have to split it up. But I really wish I could put it all on one page in order to show Google that this is a very content-rich and relevant destination.

In the past, I've written a 2000-something word tutorial and put it all on one page. The page was favorable with search engines and I did get search traffic on it.

A couple of months later I wrote a much bigger tutorial and split it up into multiple pages with URLs like this

  • /tutorial/ (Main page)
  • /tutorial/sub-topic-x/
  • /tutorial/sub-topic-y/
  • /tutorial/sub-topic-z/
  • Etc...

The navigation mark-up is located at the bottom of every page in that tutorial, and it's something like this:

<div id="tut-nav">
  <div id="prev-next">
    <p class="prev"><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/">Previous page</a></p>
    <p class="next"><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/b/">Next page</a></p>
  </div>

  <hr class="clear">

  <h3>Pages in this tutorial:</h3>
  <ol style="padding-left: 20px;">
    <li><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/">Tutorial Starting Page</a></li>
    <li style="font-weight: bold;"><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/a/">Sub-topic A</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/b/">Sub-topic B</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/c/">Sub-topic C</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/d/">Sub-topic D</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/e/">Sub-topic E</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/f/">Sub-topic F</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://example.com/some-section/tutorial/g/">Sub-topic G</a></li>
  </ol>
</div>

I even have breadcrumbs (without Microdata mark-up though) like this

Site > Section > Tutorial > Sub Topic A

In spite all of that, the main page, /tutorial/, didn't have much luck with search engines. It's on the second page for its very uncompetitive keyword. It's ranked below pages with clearly lower quality and shallower topic coverage. It's been months. What could I have done wrong? :(

I'm thinking that for this new tutorial that I'm writing now, the <titles> of all the pages will be "How to Main Keyword Phrase - Part 1", "How to Main Keyword Phrase - Part 2", etc. But <h1> will be different from <title> for each page.

What do you guys think about all of this? Is there a semantic way to mark-up multi-page articles that would clearly tell engines that these pages are all part of one article?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 0 down vote accepted

The exact titles depend on the topic and how natural it sounds.

I've used both duplicate titles for all pages of an article and distinct titles. In the case of distinct titles, then you can use keywords targeted at those sections of the article (instead of page 1, 2, etc). For example, if you write about 'cats' you may have pages titled 'cat food', 'cat behavior', 'cat families', etc.

Then you should markup all the pages with the proper meta tags (example for page2):

<link rel="start" href="/tutorial"/>
<link rel="prev" href="/tutorial"/>
<link rel="next" href="/tutorial/page3"/>

Note, in case your tutorial can be read non-linearly, to always use a consistent order which is given to search engines. Actually, probably one the 'start' matters but I often include all 3.

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