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I've read a few articles about pagination pitfalls but none really describe my situation. I have a products page rendered with ReactJS with about 300 products and pagination (I am also using server-side-rendering for SEO reasons).

Only 20 products are rendered, and paginating just renders next 20 products. However, the URL does not change when paginating. I'm wondering is this generally bad for SEO?

I will be adding all individual product pages to sitemap.xml, so they'll get indexed, but I suppose unless googlebot can figure out my pagination buttons are intended for pagination, it would only always see the first 20 products. Is this bad for maximizing link juice? I'm not sure since usually pagination pages are noindexed anyway.

Does using link rel=prev and link rel=next on pagination buttons make any sense in my situation?

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Putting URLs in a sitemap does not usually mean that they will get indexed. Googlebot will usually crawl all the pages in a sitemap, but the decision of whether or not to index pages is based on how unique and popular they are. That popularity and authority is measured via inbound links to the pages. If you have pages only listed in your sitemap and never have links to them on your site that Googlebot finds, they almost never get indexed. Even if they do get indexed, they won't rank well for anything competitive. All in all, sitemaps are nearly useless for SEO. See The Sitemap Paradox.

Pagination is also nearly useless for SEO. Googlebot will follow the links in pagination and usually crawl a ton of it. However, by the third page of pagination, there is usually no authority (PageRank) left from the first page. Google will probably not chose to index pages found beyond the first page of pagination. Having crawlable pagination is not good for SEO. It also turns out it is not great for users. Fewer than 5% of users ever use pagination, and of those that do, only a fraction ever make it past the second page.

So what should you do?

If neither pagination, nor sitemaps are great for SEO, what should you do?

  1. List as many products on the first page as possible. Having a list of 100 products on the first page is not unreasonable.
  2. Link each product page to other related product pages. Each product page should have links to related products. Such links are usually in sections like "Similar products", "compare with", "people that viewed this ended up buying", or any number of other variations.
  3. Provide search functionality for users. While it won't help with SEO (and you should block search bots from crawling site search results), users like to find products via search.
  4. Implement faceted navigation. Users like to be able to drill down and select products by attributes. Search engines should be allowed to crawl pages with exactly one facet applied. For example "X Brand widgets", "Widgets under $100", or "Widgets with feature X".

If you end up providing pagination to support the small number of users that do use it, that is fine. I usually recommend not making it crawlable anyway because it doesn't help with SEO. Your plan of using pagination without crawlable URLs won't hurt your SEO, but there is no way that it will help it.

As far as rel=prev and rel=next go, it would only make sense to use them on a series of crawlable pages. When you don't have crawlable pages, it wouldn't make any sense to use them. In any case, it shouldn't matter for SEO because Google recently admitted that it hasn't used rel=prev and rel=next for years anyway.

  • Thank you :) I do some of the things you listed (related products, search/filter functinality, "faceted" navigation - I have pages for collections of products). except for 100 products on the first page. Given my UI requirements, that is not an option. With respect to sitemap.xml, I meant to submit it to google to index. I could also submit all the product pages for index. Would that help? – geochanto Jun 21 at 18:55
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    It isn't worth submitting anything to Google. If Googlebot can't find the page on its own, Google isn't likely to index it anyway. As long as Googlebot can crawl your site and get to your pages, you should be fine. – Stephen Ostermiller Jun 22 at 1:19

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