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I am creating a niche web directory. Each category has a quality text and then about 1000 sites listed. My primary goal is to get Google traffic for each category intro. Only on 1st page of each category is text with first 30 sites populated, on the next pages there are only list of sites as pagination goes.

I am not sure what would be a proper way for pagination. Each first page category is unique, but next pages could be very similar because the same sites belong to different categories. Do you think using canonical tag would be acceptable in this case?

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Is this situation you should be using the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags.

In a nut shell, rel=”next” and rel=”prev” can be used on paginated content such yours, that spans multiple pages. With rel="next" and rel="prev" markup, you can provide a strong hint to Google to treat these pages as a logical sequence, thus consolidating their linking properties and usually sending searchers to the first page

Here is a video on the subject:Video about pagination with rel=“next” and rel=“prev”

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