Recently I came across some client WordPress sites that had the relprev and relnext tags embedded on their archive pages. The sites were set up as a classic WordPress blog, with the reverse chronological listing of the post teasers on the home page with the “Next” button leading to the older posts.
It was these pages that had the tag, for example looking at the HTML source on page 2:
<link rel="prev" href="http://www.awordpresssite.com/page/1/" />
<link rel="next" href="hhttp://www.awordpresssite.com/page/3/" />
BTW: I just randomly came up with the domain “awordpresssite” for the above example, otherwise I don’t know anything about this parked domain.
The question is, is this the correct use of the relprev and relnext tags? My answer is: Probably Not.
In September 2011, Google announced support for these tags. These tags signal Google to treat the separate pages together as a components that belong to a series. This will aggregate any incoming link juice and tell Google to return the first page of the series for searches.
This is great for sites that paginate their articles (which is common with media sites) and for eCommerce sites that have multiple pages for a product category. It’s a straightforward SEO recommendation for non WordPress sites (WordPress displays a post on a single page under one URL but many other technologies paginate and create a separate URL per page). But is that recommendation valid for a collection of blog posts?
The key question is whether there is a strong relationship between the component URLs. Perhaps if your blog is tightly centered around one topic and one keyword, I could see it making sense to implement these tags. However if you write on multiple topics, even within the same head term, I don’t think you can make a strong case for using these tags. And in fact, Maile Ohye of Google posted that using rel=”next” and rel=”prev” for entries in your blog that “are not strictly correlated (but they are just time-sequential),” pagination markup likely isn’t the best use of your time. So perhaps not harmful, but not that particularly useful either.
What does make sense is to use these tags for your category archive pages. Here the the component URLs ARE related (if you have done your categorization of your posts correctly). And you likely do want the first page of the “series” returned in a search. If you have set up your category pages so that they are SEO friendly and indexed, adding these tags wouldn’t be a top priority but definitely should be on your todo list.
Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.