How best to deal with pagination in ecommerce sites is a topic that is often discussed by SEOs. Here I shall outline a technique that I have successfully used in the onsite SEO of various ecommerce websites.
Typically these sites present many hundreds or thousands of products sub-divided into categories, sub-categories and in some cases sub-sub-categories. Each of the categories and sub-categories is presented using many paginated pages and the visitor is provided with controls enabling them to view products based upon price, availability and various other attributes. Each of these different views and each paginated page of products use unique URLs, but the introductory copy is common to all pages and views within the category or sub-category.
Bring Focus to Pages of Importance
This type of ecommerce site implementation is not uncommon. It presents a number of issues including the significant onsite duplication of the content provided on the category or sub-category landing pages. My quick and easy approach has been to bring focus to the key category and sub-category landing pages by:
a) No-indexing all paginated pages using: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” /> in the head section of each page and
b) Introducing the canonical tag to all paginated pages, indicating the parent category or sub-category page and the canonical
version using: <link rel=”canonical” href=”URL of parent category or sub-category”/>.
The effect of this simple change was swift and dramatic. By no-indexing the paginated pages Google was no longer required to crawl and index pages that present largely the same content as other pages in the same category. This brought immediate focus to these important landing pages for the keyterms used in the descriptive category copy, which was no longer duplicated.
You will notice that, although the paginated pages were no-indexed they were not no-followed. This means that the linked product detail pages, which are all unique, are still visited by the crawlers and this improved the indexation of these pages.
Additional Onsite SEO Enhancement
Further SEO improvements were achieved through identifying keyterm themes relevant to each category then prioritizing the various keyterms and ensuring they were used appropriately in the page titles and content. In some cases I’ve also introduced dynamic elements that bring fresh, relevant content to each of the key, category landing pages.
I’ve also got into the habit of introducing dynamic, segmented sitemap systems that present fewer than 100 links per sitemap page, dynamically built from the product database. These have contributed to improved positions and greater traffic for a great many long tail queries.
The result of these fairly modest onsite changes has been a massive increase in traffic arriving from the organic SERPs as a result of both generic and long tail searches, due to significantly higher rankings for various terms. Also, the relevant category pages are those which are returned in the SERPs and visitors are now entering the site through category pages that are most relevant to their queries. Visitors are therefore finding what they were looking for and my clients are selling more products so everyone is happy.