The MBAs have taken to splitting some established pages into pieces to amp up the pageviews on a generally well-ranked content website. Usability and user-friendliness issues aside, should I expect a dropoff in search traffic to these pages?
For example, there was a single-page, 550-word article that had been online for many years, ranked solidly #2 in Google (just behind Wikipedia) for its key phrase. It drives a few hundred search visits per day.
Now it's in 3 pieces, hosted on 3 pages. The URL structure was:
and is now:
This creates multiple concerns and questions:
The 2nd and 3rd pages don't have any offsite backlinks, but eventually might. At that point, won't they compete with page 1 for its main search phrase? AFAIK, the 'rel=canonical' tag is not intended to resolve pagination issues and therefore is not a solution.
All three pages currently have duplicate titles and META description tags; this is almost certainly a problem. Can it be resolved by simply appending a page number, e.g. 'page 2' to the title and description?
The first page is now missing about 60% of its original content. Could this force Google to devalue it? In other contexts, I have seen highly-ranked pages drop in the SERPs when their content is significantly shortened.
For this specific example page, we're 6-weeks into the breakup and have maintained our #2 rank in Google. If anyone has experience suggesting that this is likely to change, I'd love to hear it.