Ajay Sachdeva
Ajay Sachdeva 7 May 2019
Categories Technology

Did Google’s Spring Cleaning Affect Your Website?

Google continues to surprise and shock the SEO community with changes it makes in its algorithms every year. While you’re still recovering from the previous update, here comes the next boulder taking you by surprise. That’s Google after all!

Google continues to surprise and shock the SEO community with changes it makes in its algorithms every year. While you’re still recovering from the previous update, here comes the next boulder taking you by surprise.  That’s Google after all!


The recent on the block - it has discontinued the use of Rel=prev/next indexing signal.  Webmasters used the tag to inform Google about paginated series of web pages.

For instance, it was useful in websites where the discussions or the articles run for multiple pages. But not any longer.

Google is smart enough to index the pages like it does with a single-page content. It does not need any special instruction - “prev, next” signal.

How’s The Digital Community Responding?

Well, the SEO pros might not have much to rattle about but publishers primarily used it to simplify the complex site navigation.  So, yes they are upset with the sudden change of events.

Google’s Matt Cutts had staunchly supported efforts in the direction of improving websites that are in sync with their standard practices.  But this announcement has kind of shook the publishers as to why they were kept in the dark about the changes.

Google has very conveniently replaced the webmaster support page with a 404 response serving no justification as such.  Speculations are rife that Google had stopped using it long back but it just did not update! 


Do We Have Anything To Worry?

On a holistic level, SEO fraternity is mildly reacting as to how the multiple articles or say product pages (ecommerce sites) will be indexed. However, it has been relegated more to question how  websites will be designed to fit in a series of webpages if pagination is scraped.

When questioned if Google is still somewhere using the indexing signal, Google webmaster analyst, JohnMu, outrightly denied. 


As per this update, Google continues to index all the pages though pagination no longer exists. Google bots have smarten up to need any special instructions to discover if there are more pages.

What if the site structure is complex? For instance,  if Google bot will know if it has landed on a page 4 out of the 10 in a series. If users can configure it as a series of pages, then how will Google quantify it?

Alternatively, Google uses the following to get its site structure sorted and provides direction for indexing:

  • Faceted navigation
  • Noindex
  • Robots.txt
  • Canonical tags
  • Ajax
  • Google Search Console

Rel=prev/next Still Exists in HTML Code

If you take a closer look into your website, the link prev-rel is very much existing in your HTML specification. While Google may have denounced it for pagination, it still has relevance for HTML.  So, you do not have to kill your sleepover changing the website code.

A search marketer for decades by now, Edward Lewis, shared:

“Link Relationships (next, prev) have been in the HTML Specification long before Google finally read the instructions on how to use them.

So “Google Says” and now everybody is whining about the time they invested to setup their pages properly which should have been done to begin with. I wonder how many will now remove their link relationships just because “Google Says.”

So, What’s Next?

SEO community and publishers are keeping a close tab on the way Google is responding to queries of varying degrees on this recent update.

Instead of contemplating over indexing, the focus must be to find out how pagination would be completely replaced.

If we go by the words of Alan Bleiweiss, a leading site audit specialist, websites with complex site structure may face some complications. It is thus hard to wrap the mind around how Google is working without registering  Rel=prev/next.

He shared:

“This is insanity… If I’ve got 50 paginated pages in a single sub-category, on a site with 10 categories, and a total of 10 sub-categories, there’s no way I can trust Google to “figure it all out”.

The webmasters are confused and of course, many are frustrated for genuine reasons. 

Each single page of content is important for the site structure. The lingering fears concerning multiple pages ought to be weighed and responded equally well. 

We Thrive Together

There are scores of search marketers working every single second of the day online to comply with Google’s preferred practices.

In the words of search industry seasoned journalist Danny Sullivan , Google is a huge ecosystem that thrives with the support of users, SEOs, publishers, developers and many others operating within.


In the end ...

Google’s delayed tweet and casual undertone in responses indicate that it has somewhat managed to bypass the use of rel next/prev as an indexing factor. It may not have much to both your SEO professionals but certainly leaves some questions unanswered on pagination for webmasters.

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