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Pagination / SEO / best-practices

     
11:47 pm on Dec 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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First off, thanks to the forum for the helpful replies I've gotten so far; signal-to-noise ratio so much better than other forums I've posted in!

Q about pagination / SEO / best-practices. I currently paginate my Q&A site with 7 Q/A pairs on each page, and users can sort the Q&A content by Newest, Oldest, and Best Rated. But there's something of a UX fail because we get a ton of organic search traffic, BUT often a user will follow a link from Google search results and get dumped onto the first paginated page in a Q&A which doesn't even contain the the relevant content he's content he searched for. e.g. he might search for "How much do I tip valets?", and we do have a Q&A with a valet who gives a good answer...but the link from Google SERPs will just dump the user on the FIRST page of a 6-page paginated Q&A, and often the relevant content is on, say, page 4 of 6. So unless the user clicks through the pagination links or finds the 'Single Page View" button, he may not even find what he searched for, which I think is a crummy experience.

What I'd like to implement is basically what textsfromlastnight.com does as shown in THIS mockup I made [i.imgur.com ]: create an additional standalone page for each Q&A pairing. The advantages seem manyfold (i) It's just a better search experience (to land on a page that has exactly the content you searched for); (ii) the metadata will be exponentially more targeted (since currently I have to write one set of metadata for an entire Q&A...whereas if there was individual metadata for each Q&A, it would be way more targeted / get higher CTR% from SERPs.

What I want to know for now I guess is:
1) Is there a name / term to describe this technique (of serving both a "full" version of content, but also breaking it out onto separate pages with individual content nuggets?)
2) Is there any risk that search engines view it as "duplicate content" and ding me?
3) Anything else -- good or bad -- I may not have thought of re: this proposed implementation?
1:51 am on Dec 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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What you are proposing to do is exactly oposite to the way Google wants to handle "View All" page

Indicate paginated content
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1663744?hl=en [support.google.com]

Specify a View All page. Searchers commonly prefer to view a whole article or category on a single page. Therefore, if we think this is what the searcher is looking for, we try to show the View All page in search results. You can also add a rel="canonical" link to the component pages to tell Google that the View All version is the version you want to appear in search results.


But from what you are saying, you want to break your pages to have one for each separate Q&A as well as View All page. I presume you would not have pagination then?

And you would like that Google sends visitors to an appropriate Q&A page?

Looking at your sample image, if your "View All" page has much less details than each separate Q&A page, then you can safely let them all be indexed - this would be equivalent to indexing a category listing and each of items making up the category.

But if your "View All" page is the equivalent of the total of the content of all individual Q&A pages then you may want to choose to either have "View All" page indexed or individual Q&A pages indexed. You could decide to leave it up to Google to pick up which one but in this case you may not benefit from consolidated link juice which you would have if you decide to have "View All" page indexed and each Q&A page have a canonical pointing to "View All" page.



BTW, Welcome to WebmasterWorld, domino66! IT is nice to hear your observation on "Signal to Noise" being much better than in other forums you participated. I would also like to comment on your well constructed questions since when a well-constructed and thoughtful question is posted, it is much more likely to get better quality replies.
5:20 pm on Dec 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the helpful reply aakk.

So yes: I currently have each Q&A paginated with 7 QA pairs on each page, and a View All link at the bottom of each page where the Next/Prev pagination arrows are. (Am I allowed to link to my site here? I didn't want to make this post too spammy.)

aakk: But from what you are saying, you want to break your pages to have one for each separate Q&A as well as View All page. I presume you would not have pagination then?

Well actually...I was thinking of keeping pagination as well. Would that be problematic do you think? So I'd have 3 'views':
i) The 7-per-page pagination (which I like as the default view b/c some of our Q&A's are extremely long, like 100+ answers);
ii) the View All 'single-page-view' (for people who would prefer to see all content on a single page, even if it's extremely long);
iii) And *also* a static page for each Q/A (which I think would be optimal for search, though I understand what you / that Google pagination link are saying about the View All being the page they like to index...)

Do you think having all 3 is overkill or might be not looked upon favorably by Google?
5:41 pm on Dec 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Am I allowed to link to my site here? I didn't want to make this post too spammy.

Thank you for asking :) We do not allow links to personal sites on this sub-forum but we do have Review my site [webmasterworld.com] section for supporters where you can ask for your site or certain aspects of your site to be reviewed.

Do you think having all 3 is overkill or might be not looked upon favorably by Google?

Yes I do - unless you use rel=canonical on some of variants. For example, this *could* work:

a) View All page shows only a question and perhaps only the part of the answer, with the full answer and comments being shown on the static Q/A page. You allow it to be indexed.

b) Static Q/A page, which for each Q/A has more info than shown on View All page, includes full answer and UGC comments. You allow this to be indexed.

c) Paginated Q/A page which is EITHER pagination of View All page (use rel=canonical to point to View All page) or pagination of combined Q/A pages (use meta robots noindex)

This is under the presumption that you would need all three for your users. With regards to indexing, if they all have the full content, then only one variant should be indexed.

If the aim is just to show the correct page in SERPs, then you may do either:

- leave pagination as is and use rel prev/next for paginated pages - Google will consolidate their linking properties, but will (usually) send the visitor to the first page (which is what you do not want)

- leave pagination as is and do not use rel prev/next. Ensure the page title is reflective of the actual content on the paginated page. Google may then rank the appropriate pagination page, but may not consolidate linking properties, meaning that each of the page may be weaker on its own.

You say that you currently have "View All" page, does it rank? Or the individual pagination pages rank instead?