By now you’ve probably heard that the rel=prev/next markup isn’t supported, but it actually hasn’t been supported for years. It kind of stinks since google forgot to tell everyone. But what does it mean, and what should you know about it? Well, read on to find out.
This markup was used as a way to inform the Googlebot of whether or not a webpage was a series. For example, if you wrote a lot of different posts about SEO, you may have different topics, all related to well, SEO, and the purpose of this rel=prev/next markup was to identify the next and previous articles. This was helpful for e-commerce sites to help identify what products were used in the same categories. Until recently, Google included this documentation within the webmasters help page that told the owners to use this, and this was used to indicate the relationships between the URLs, and it provided a strong hint to Google itself that you want to treat these in a sequence, so that you can consolidate the linking properties that sent others to the first page. Now, that’s gone, and unfortunately, Google did this without telling anyone why.
So does it require you to have to remove the code from your site? The answer is no. you absolutely don’t need to, and it doesn’t’ hurt to have it there since Google isn’t the only search engine and Bing still uses this, so you don’t have to worry about nixing that markup anytime soon.
But what does this mean for SEO? Well, it looks like no SEO professional noticed this, and it wasn’t until Google pulled it from the documentation itself that people started asking. This then leads to the question of was it really there? What it means though is that Google will index the page category instead of the pagination that the page had from here on out. Googlebot is intelligent enough to find this, so don’t worry, and the bot is already looking at your site, so if you’ve structured this so that it’s more user-friendly and practiced, Google will indeed find the relevant content and rank it.
So should you make any changes? Well, first make sure that most of the content on the first page is within the category, in order to help with indexing, whether that be text, images or videos, and also consider the search terms. Make sure to optimize the featured image on the pain page, and make sure that it has the keyword and file name and alt text, which will tell Google about your pages. From here, the optimized images will bring in traffic.
At that point, add in as many items as you can without slowing it down too much, and you can break this up into subcategories to help.
Finally consider what you should do with the rel next/prev, and figure out whether it will help with optimizing this, or if it will save the crawl budget.