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I have a website that shows photos accessible from a gallery section (that shows relevant photo thumbnails) divided up into pages.

On the desktop version of the site, the gallery section is divided into groups of 100 (as in 100 thumbnails per page).

On the mobile version, the same gallery section is divided into groups of 50 thumbnails in order to lower bandwidth costs for all.

Only other difference between the two versions of the pages are minor cosmetics, but the text is mostly the same (roughly 80+% duplicate content).

I'm just trying to figure out the best way to use canonical and alternate here.

I believe for the first 50 thumbnails, I can use rel=alternate and specify the same page number but on the mobile site and use rel=canonical and specify the desktop version of the page (that contains rel=alternate).

Now how do I handle thumbnails 51 to 100? do I specify on the mobile site via appropriate rel=canonicals that thumbnails 1 through 100 belong are associated with page 1 on the desktop site? or does rel=canonical only work if the thumbnail count is divided evenly on both sites (example: the dekstop site has 100 thumbnails per page and the mobile site has 100 thumbnails per page)?

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You should not be using rel=canonical or rel=alternate on page 2+. Instead you should be using rel=prev and rel=next. That will allow search engines to associate the text on all of the pages in the pagination with page 1 and only rank the first page.

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    I think you've not misunderstood Mike's question. I think he is referring to example.com and m.example.com thingy. – Aakash Jan 7 '16 at 12:50
  • I understand. He should use rel=prev and rel=next on page 2 for each, and only using a canonical tag on page 1 as he already knows how to do. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 7 '16 at 13:21
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I am not sure if this is absolutely correct but this is what I think should be fine.

So for every 1 page in desktop version (D1), you've 2 pages in mobile version (M1,M2). This is what I will do -

  1. D1 will have alternate tag pointing to M1.
  2. M1 will have canonical tag to D1.
  3. M2 will have canonical tag to D1.

Now, Why this is fine?

What you are essentially doing here is that you are specifying a View All page (D1) for all component pages (M1 and M2). https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1663744?hl=en

Apart from this, you can have usual rel=prev and rel=next within D1,D2,D3...and M1,M2,M3,M4,M5,M6...

  • This is probably what I will have to do. Now I'm gonna have to update my pagination options from allowing users to choose either 100, 200, or 500 thumbnails per page to 100, 200 or 400 thumbnails per page because 200 can go into 400 evenly. This is the moment where I have to ring googles neck because now I have to regenerate the thumbnail sprite sheets. Luckily I have software that does it but at the same time, some guests might be inconvenienced. I'll see if I can find a better answer (prob not) before having to go this route. – Mike Jan 7 '16 at 23:35

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