Google just announced that it will now do its best to lead searchers directly to the single-page version of the online content it indexes instead of the paginated versions of the same content. Whenever an obvious “view-all” version of the text is available, Google will now link to that instead of the long series of pages that many publishers would likely prefer Google to link to.

Paginating content helps publishers to serve more ads to their readers, but they are without doubt a major annoyance for most web surfers. According to Google, however, its users testing has shown “that searchers much prefer the view-all, single-page version of content over a component page containing only a portion of the same information with arbitrary page breaks (which cause the user to click “next” and load another URL).”Screen shot 2011-09-14 at 10.54

While Google is also making it easier for publishers to indicate how the multiple parts of a paginated story belong together and will surface these if publishers so prefer, the company notes that users “generally prefer the view-all option in search results.” The exception, though, are extremely large view-all pages that take a long time to load and hence result in increased latency.

Google, which has always put a premium on speed, notes that webmasters can take some easy steps to avoid having their view-all pages appear in its index (just don’t use a rel=”canonical” link to point to the view-all page and use the new rel=”next” and rel=”prev” attributes to link to individual pages in a series).

I can’t imagine that most publishers are very happy with this move. On the other hand, this will hopefully put an end to the unnecessary pagination that has become a major annoyance on many sites today. While it may artificially pump up pageviews, it clearly doesn’t lead to higher satisfaction among readers.

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4 comments
thegreenman.us
thegreenman.us 5pts

Whenever I see an overly paginated article, I leave and block the site from google. This cleans up my searches and increases the overall quality of my search results, as those sites that employ this practice are uniformly bottomfeeders.

TakeOS
TakeOS 5pts

"Paginating content helps publishers to serve more ads to their readers": It's not just that, it also provides crucial understanding about who is really interested in that content. People who quickly leave page one after 3 seconds have different interests than those who invest their time into reading page two and three. I don't know if this is used to profile users, to pay writers, to serve different content, offer different rates to advertisers, etc., but it seems clear that it's not just about serving more ads.

TessTer
TessTer 5pts

Publishers are not charities, they are businesses. Those who offer free content do so in exchange for revenue --- usually advertising, product sales, or business leads that are developed from that content. These revenues translate to jobs.

No one likes ads, but they do provide tremendous value to the user - quality content at no cost. How much money do you save by not having to pay a subscription fee to access your favorite sites' content?

I disagree with ZacharyRD. It's a bad call by Google. It's anti-small business, anti free-enterprise, and anti-economic recovery. If the site experience is abominable, people will go elsewhere. Let the people decide.

ZacharyRD
ZacharyRD 5pts

It's a good call by Google; in the end, they need to keep users / searchers happier to stay ahead of Bing; publishers may squawk, but they'll adjust.