Today’s Ask An SEO question is pretty specific, and yet the issue and advice could apply to a lot of situations.
Annika in Stockholm asks:
“We have four sites with many destination pages listing a lot of hotels. Our UX department decided to show a list of 10 hotels and then a button that, when clicked, adds 10 more hotels to the list and so on. The URL stays the same but with different parameters.
How can I, from an SEO perspective, make sure that all hotel pages are indexed?
There are a lot of images in the list so it’s not an option to “view all” due to speed. Until now, we have used a solution with rel=next and rel=prev, but I’ve read that solution is no longer supported by Google.
Infinite scroll, as well as traditional pagination, is not an option either due to UX. So, what’s the best practice here?
I have struggled with this for many years and would really appreciate a solution for my dilemma.”
Great question, Annika.
Just because search engines don’t support rel=prev and rel=next anymore doesn’t necessarily mean websites have to re-design their sites or remove those tags.
For anyone who is curious, there’s no harm in leaving the tags up. They won’t hurt you.
The heart of this question though is how to deal with pagination in both a user and search engine-friendly way.
I have to wonder though as I consider this question why traditional pagination and infinite scroll aren’t an option for UX? There’s nothing inherently bad with either of those when it comes to user experience.
Both can be done well to make the SEO, development, UX, and accessibility teams happy.
A Quick Workaround
The quickest, easiest, cheapest – but not the best – way to improve this situation is through the use of sitemaps. Ensure that all of your properties are listed in your XML sitemap, for starters.
This isn’t the best solution because there are still no internal site links to the pages, but at least it will help engines crawl them while you address the solution in other ways.
You should also consider adding an “all hotels” sitemap page.
This page could be linked from your footer or your HTML sitemap and could be a nice list organized by country/state and even have country/state pages to help funnel search engines into a nice crawlable path to everything.
This is a workaround if you can’t do what I’m going to suggest below, but I said we’d start with the quick workarounds.
A Better Solution
Before writing this article, I took a quick look at major hotel brands and hotel search sites to see what they’re doing.
It’s all over the place in terms of UX but most of them have some sort of quick fix as mentioned above, and also use a hybrid of infinite scroll, form interactions, and old-school pagination.
The approach I would recommend is to let your UX team keep the button (although buttons have all kinds of other issues beyond the scope of this article) but also get them to add in some traditional pagination for you with it.
Users get the fancy form/application feel while search engines get nice crawlable links. Users will even get links they can share and send people to, as well.
See SEO-Friendly Pagination: A Complete Best Practices Guide to learn more.
Give And Take
Corporate SEO or SEO for large sites is all about give and take; it’s about knowing what to fight for and what to concede.
In Annika’s case, I would schedule a meeting with UX and the developers and put the SEO requirements out there, plain and simple.
Tell them, “We need a crawlable path to all of the hotel pages that live outside of the sitemaps. How can we do that within this user experience?” and then see where the brainstorm goes.
- SEO-Friendly Pagination: A Complete Best Practices Guide
- How To Deal With Paginated Pages
- Advanced Technical SEO: A Complete Guide
Ask An SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
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