Rel=Next/Prev & SEO: Insights from Google Crawling Behavior by @aaliceroussel

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In an ecosystem where conjectures and theories dominate debates, Google’s announcement on March 21 that rel next/prev tags are no longer used by the search engine provoked a virtual tidal wave.

We witnessed a landslide of tweets, an avalanche of questions, and a torrent of pointed comments on the most famous search engine.

If SEO was a stock market, this would have been another historic crash.

The Rel=Next/Prev Tag Backstory

In 2011, these famous tags were introduced in order to facilitate search engines’ treatment of duplicate content created by pagination.

This set of tags constituted a strong indexing signal because they enhanced search engine algorithms’ understanding with regard to duplicates.

Following Google’s recommendations, it became a standard best practice in SEO to indicate the next and previous pages of a paginated series in the page <head> using these tags.

Today, Google tells us that these tags are no longer taken into account because the algorithms have been sufficiently trained to be able to automatically detect the reason for certain cases of duplicates.

In machine learning terms, we have to admit that this is an interesting development. And that is exactly, in my opinion, where there is no room for debate.