tedster - 12:51 am on Sep 19, 2010 (gmt 0)
Thanks - I'm happy my efforts hit you in a good place.
One thing I forgot to mention is that we do NOT let the internal page titles affect the file path. So, based on research that shows it to be a low level relevance signal, we abandoned any concern for getting the keyword in the file path. If the article's first page is /title-words then page two is /title-words-2. As our results showed, this convention did not create a major ranking handicap. In addition, it is a very big help on the back end - because all the URLs for a complete article are immediately obvious and easily grouped.
For certain kinds of articles - highly structured, with clear subsections, and not perforce linear - provide a brief quick links / table of contents with subhead titles spanning all the pages of the article that can be navigated from each page, or at least from the top of the first.
Yes! We do this for some of our articles too, but not for all. We've been use the left column near the top, but it could work on the right or even in a floated div.
An option for readers, once landed, to view the whole article as one page. (Well, they do it for ecommerce product listings, why not for content? Is there a duplicate content issue? Fear of copying & pasting?)
Always possible - but I haven't tested this. A print version in PDF format is something we use, and that we keep out of the index. I would suggest doing the same for an HTML version. You don't want to cannibalize the search ranking effect of the individual internal pages.
In-text links to subsections of article, clearly delineated as part of the same article.
We do this sometimes, whenveer it feels useful to the reader - but we don't do it routinely.
What I haven't seen, but what I'd like to see as a user, is some kind of cue right there at the top of page 1 that this is a multi-page article, and maybe even an option to take a shortcut.
The numeric navigation we use serves this purpose very nicely. The number for the page the user is on is highlighted - usually a bold white number against a dark background. The other numbers are clearly links with redundant visual cues in their hover behaviors.
So at first glance, the user sees "OK, I'm on page one of a ten page set of pages". We also include "Page 1 of 10" in a small font just below the <h1> element.
A lot of those steps are for usability more than SEO. But good usability means happy visitors, and happy visitors means more backlink potential.