[Resolved] Critical Navigational Issue for SEO Reasons & Proposal of a Change

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Home Forums Support Critical Navigational Issue for SEO Reasons & Proposal of a Change

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  • #1190463


    I am an SEO from many years and I did some split testing on a subject that is currently an issue among many webmasters and marketers.

    I propose switching of “1,2,3…[last page] Next” type of navigation to just [Previous] and [Next] for categories by default.

    Google dropped support for “rel next” and “rel previous”. For that reason, right now Google cannot determine which page is previous and which is next, they all see the links as equally important for the user, including the last page, which confuses the bot even more.

    Subsequential numbers basically don’t represent page order for the search engines. That is confirmed by Google.

    That’s why many people see outdated content including from the last page outranking the fresher and more relevant content in the search results as the bot is confused in terms of relevance.

    As an SEO I successfully fixed and improved the rankings of clients by ditching that numbered navigation to “previous” and “next” in the categories.

    In the private video I do go into details, please watch it.

    Just few days ago there was an official confirmation on the official Google Webmaster hangouts by an employee of Google – John Mueller, watch at 27:12.

    That’s why I strongly suggest you to change the default category navigation from the numbers to previous and next by default and if you want to keep the classic but confusing for the bots navigation as a secondary option.

    The reasoning behind that is that not everyone is an SEO, but he should have the optimal setup by default.

    In the meantime, please provide me a solution how can I achieve that in your theme, preferably to change the actual output, not just hiding with CSS.

    P.S. 11 years of SEO experience. I am available to further discuss that if needed.

    P.S. II – It looks like there are few hours needed before Google uploads a higher quality 4K video that I shared in the private area. In case you don’t see it, I guess it would be made available in few hours.

    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Thanks for this, I’ll do some research.

    For now, CSS is the only way to disable the numbered pagination. I’ll see about adding an option in GP 2.5.0 🙂


    What CSS code should I use in order to have “next” on right and “previous” one left without numbers? The idea is that if it is only hidden throw CSS, the bot would be still able to see the numbered links in the code, no?

    As you can see on my private video the issue is that Google doesn’t understand the important of 1 vs 2,3 and the last for example 99 page as if presented on a page below Google will treat them as equally important internal links with anchor texts being numbers, but Google doesn’t count them. While when you use previous and next, it could see the sequence and treat relevance and freshness more properly. I have did a bunch of tests on clients from other vendors where switching to previous and next improved their search positions. That’s especially true on larger sites.

    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    This is the CSS you would use:

    .paging-navigation .nav-previous, 
    .paging-navigation .nav-next {
        display: block;
    .nav-links {
        display: none;

    Google shouldn’t follow the hidden links.

    I am surprised that Google isn’t able to recognize standard pagination like this. Is there an article somewhere that explains why?


    Most of us SEOs knew that and it happened after they drop the support of rel next and rel previous.

    Before that things were fine. The video above is official and it was said many times, so you can be sure it’s 100%. This time it was the most clearest confirmation.

    You can imagine why they do not go into details about their algo, but the videos above and the employee of Google is vetted officially by their PR, so you can trust 100% when they are exact like that.


    Regarding CSS

    It’s not just about following, they check for hidden links with CSS as they considered cloaking and could be a minor negative factor, that’s why it’s always best to have a clean HTML output with the desired outcome. An algo could be confusing them for something sneaky.

    PS Infinite scroll could also be a solution but not for sites with more than few dozen or even less pages. The reason is that G doesn’t scroll indefinitely enough to see all articles and pages despite speeding JS on their own side.


    I would like to point out that Google for an n-th time repeated that.

    There are even more mentions of the same in other hangouts.

    Please change how the theme works by default.

    Google doesn’t use subsequent numbers to understand the page number, they use all links on the page.

    So “1,2,3…99” would count 1,2,3 and 99 links equally, while having “Previous” and “Next” for pages would get priority subsequently and understand which page is the first, the second, third etc. That way 99 will be the least important, and first pages would be the most important.

    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Thanks for the additional information here.

    Replacing it outright likely isn’t an option without frustrating a lot of users. We strive to never change the front-end appearance of websites during an update.

    However, perhaps an option where the user can choose is the best option. Will play with it.


    Yeah, as an SEO myself from many years I knew that was the case when they dropped support for rel=next/previous, but having them confirming this officially on their Google Webmasters channel at least three times from what I can recall, that makes such an option very critical. A lot of the customers enjoy having your theme due to performing well in the search engines and that would be something really important. Pagination questions are really important.

    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    I agree – from what I understood, he was saying paginated pages (2, 3, 4 etc..) are viewed as less important than the first page. In some cases, this makes sense and is likely true. However, this is something that should be up to the user.


    It will be great to have an option to choose!


    I will try to streamline and simplify the problem from an SEO perspective.

    When you have a site with a blog or news or other content that is regularly published you want to have your category page with dofollow and without a noindex tag.

    That way the Googlebot crawler:

    1) Would find all pages properly without your need for a sitemap file or rigorous internal linking on content.

    2) The page PageRank would flow naturally.

    3) Google would understand the structure of your website better.

    There is a fourth reason, but I don’t want to mention it publically, but it is about understanding consistency.

    In an ideal scenario your content is paginated by date and this signifies the importance.

    So your category homepage #1 is the most important, the #2 is the less important, the #3 is less important than #2 and the last one is the least important. And you have that gradual flow from most important to the least important.

    Previously that was achievable throw rel=previous and rel=next, but Google dropped support for that.

    So far many people, excluding me, were thinking that Google now looks at the numbers of the pages to determine their importance, but they confirmed they don’t do that.

    So in the current situation when you have the following displayed:

    “2, 3, 4…99” with all numbers being links to the appropriate pages, the Googlebot would think in two completely wrong assumptions:

    1) The importance of 2 = 3 = 4 = 99. All these pages are equally less important in relations to the homepage, but equally important by themselves.

    2) All pages from 5 to 98 are less important to that page than 2,3,4 and 99.

    Not only you loose the hierarchical importance of each subsequent page, but you loose relative importance to the current page and gives wrong importance to the least important page – the last one.


    With previous/next you solve all these issues as then Google would be able to hierarchical order the importance as before the time they dropped rel=next and rel=previous.

    And with that the PageRank would flow naturally, the site would be seen as more relevant and better structurally ordered in the eyes of Google.

    Disclaimer: I am CEO of SEO company, 11+ years of experience with search engines.

    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Thanks for this – really appreciate your time! 🙂

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