In this excerpt from our recent Virtual Keynote on SEO Tags with Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes, Gary and Eric Enge talk about how Google views the rel=”prev” / “next” tag on web pages. View the segment below, or skip below the video to get a summary of the main points.
Rel = “prev” or “next” identifies a paginated sequence of pages. For example, say a shoe site has forty shoes of a certain type, and displays them ten shoes per page over four pages, with HTML navigation links between the pages for the user.
The rel=prev/next tag helps search engines understand that the set of pages is meant to be a sequence. However, even though the pages are a group, they still can be individually indexed and become canonical pages on their own.
Because Google sees pages connected by rel=prev/next as a group, any signals accrued by any one of the pages are attributed to all the pages in the group. So if another site links to the third page in the sequence, any signals from that link would be credited to all the pages in the group.
On the other hand, a search engine might still return a result to any individual page in the group if it thinks that the user query is most relevant to a particular product on that page.
BONUS: Learn how to implement rel=prev/next on your site in our step-by-step video!