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For technical reasons (this would be really hard to do given the software that I'm using), I am only able to generate rel=prev links and not rel=next links (those links tell google what page they are on). Would that upset or confuse google (or other search engines) in any way, or would they be able to deal with it?

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link elements in the head section? Or are you referring to anchors/links in the body? –  w3d Aug 27 '12 at 16:15
    
@w3d my understanding was that google treated those the same. However, I'm not able to generate "next" links in both the head or the body. –  Christofian Aug 27 '12 at 16:21
    
rel=prev and rel=next can certainly be used on both anchors and links, and supposedly convey the same meaning, it's just that Google's blog post that discusses this subject talks solely of link elements in the head section - so I'm not sure. Google's blog post: googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/… –  w3d Aug 27 '12 at 16:41
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@w3d: AFAIK, Google deliberately ignores rel=prev and rel=next attributes within the document body, just like they do with rel=canonical. (They're worried that people might be able to sneak those attributes past input filters on editable sites like forums, wikis, SE, etc.) I can't find an official statement to confirm that right now, though, so take it with a grain of salt. –  Ilmari Karonen Aug 28 '12 at 12:04
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I believe Google's primary goal when analysing rel=prev and rel=next link elements is to (usually) return the first page of a series in the SERPs, and to avoid returning multiple results from the same series of paginated pages.

It should be noted that:

rel=”prev” and rel=”next” act as hints to Google, not absolute directives.

And...

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.

Source: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/pagination-with-relnext-and-relprev.html

So, in your case, by omitting rel="next" it might have a slight effect (in Google's efficiently in understanding your pagination), but they should be able to deal with it IMO.

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