We’re confident that you already know about importance of avoiding duplicate content in your e‑commerce.
You know, preventing two identical product cards from being published at the same time in two different places – or two categories competing for the same keyword (known as “cannibalization”).
But did you know that duplicate content could also appear as a result of organizing your products in a single category?
This organization system is also known as “pagination strategy”.
And this strategy will usually change over time as your catalog expands.
However, if you don’t monitor from time to time, you’re likely to end up with lots of duplicated product cards. And this problem isn’t easy to spot since Google’s bot is the only one that will notice it (well, and you, if you suddenly see your positioning start to plummet).
No worries, though. This won’t be the case with you – not with these tips!
In this post, you’ll learn:
So grab a pen and a piece of paper because this SEO masterclass is about to begin! 😉
👉 But what’s this SEO‑friendly pagination all about?
First of all, let’s dig deeper into this whole pagination thing.
Suppose you own a pharmacy or a drugstore.
Your catalog’s been growing over time, so now the category “Bandages” has over a hundred products from different suppliers.
How can you sort them to make it easier for users to navigate through the different product cards?
There are two main mechanisms:
This is what is known as “pagination” (there are other options, such as filters or the “See all” option, but we’ll save that for later).
Let’s see why.
✅ How category pagination affects SEO
More precisely, “why does incorrect pagination negatively affect your site’s indexation and generate duplicate content”?
Indexation is the process whereby crawler bots, such as Google’s, analyze your website and scan through the content of the different categories and product cards to include them in the search results.
But what if you’ve neglected your pagination?
To put it simply, Google’s bot may end up indexing the same product two, three, or even ten times!
All this generates duplicate content, which can hinder your site’s positioning.
So you’d better avoid this, don’t you think? 😉
👉 The most common pagination strategies and how to make them SEO‑friendly
As we said earlier, there are two main pagination mechanisms, classic and infinite scrolling.
Let’s see how to optimize them both for SEO.
✅ 1. Classic pagination
Like we said, it’s about dividing your products into different categories and adding navigation links so users can move around them.
This is how Makari’s “skincare” category works.
➡️ How to optimize classic pagination for SEO
In classic pagination, each of the pages in a category has an independent URL.
Thus, this is what Makari’s URLs look like:
And we are sure you can guess what page four’s URL would be.
Fortunately, avoiding duplicate content is fairly easy here. There are two things you must do:
Plus – even though this has nothing to do with SEO – don’t forget to make the navigation buttons flashy so users can find them easily.
✅ 2. Infinite scrolling
Infinite scrolling may refer to two different pagination models.
On the one hand, we find category pages where products are automatically displayed as users scroll down.
On the other, we find shops with a “Show more products” button, which allows users to control the product cards that are loaded.
Both are the same in terms of SEO.
Big e‑commerce shops prefer this method as some categories comprise so many product cards that classic pagination would require tens of pages (which would make navigation harder).
The downside is that this system makes it harder to avoid duplicate content.
➡️ How to optimize infinite scrolling for SEO
If infinite scrolling is implemented into your online store, users feel like they’re on the same category page the whole time.
Unfortunately, Google’s bot feels otherwise.
Without proper configuration, every time another batch of product cards is loaded, the bot thinks they’re different pages.
In other words, the bot sees them as different pages containing the product cards just loaded and the ones loaded before them, as you can see in this example below on the right.
What can you do to prevent this?
The key is to group products in different URLs.
For example, the URL of the first ten products would be “/categoryname?p=1”, from number 11 to 20 it’d be “/categoryname?p=2”, and so forth.
Users won’t notice they’re on different URLs because they’ll only have to keep scrolling down, but this will avoid duplicate content in the eyes of Google’s bot.
Here’s a graphical representation:
This is a highly technical solution – it requires code‑level configuration, so make sure it gets implemented by a website programmer.
These images taken from a post by Google for webmasters show how infinite scrolling can affect your SEO and what to do to avoid duplicate content.
👉 Other common pagination errors affecting the SEO of your e‑commerce
So far, we’ve seen how to optimize your site’s categories according to your pagination system.
But it doesn’t end there.
There are other pagination errors that can hinder indexation and, therefore, positioning.
Let’s see each of them separately.
✅ 1. Indexing filter/See all pages
If you have categories comprising lots of product cards, you should make sure navigation flows as smoothly as possible.
That’s why many e‑commerce stores have:
The problem is that these options all require exclusive URLs.
For example, if you sell trainers and decide to add a brand filter, the URL could look like this: “yourdomain.com/trainers=?brand=nike”.
So what happens when these URLs are indexed by Google?
That’s right: duplicate content again.
That’s why it’s crucial to deny search robots access to these URLs.
✅ 2. Denying access to secondary result pages
To avoid duplicate pages, some e‑commerce shops have decided to stop Google’s bot from indexing secondary pages.
For instance, if a category contains seven URLs, they only index the first one and deny access to the other six pages (or set the first page as canonical URL).
We don’t recommend this, however, since each one of these pages contains different product cards that could position for different keywords.
So the cure is worse than the disease.
✅ 3. Forgetting about the sitemap
Speaking of indexing, we can’t leave out the sitemap.
In case you don’t know it, a sitemap is a file containing all the URLs of your website and how they’re connected.
It’s like a map for crawling bots.
Even though it’s not the end-all solution (and won’t prevent duplicate content without properly configured pagination), it can help Google’s bot get a better understanding of your site’s structure.
And, as you know, that’s essential for SEO.
A sitemap can be created automatically with an SEO plugin and then you upload it to the corresponding section in your Google Search Console account.
👉 Now you know how to make SEO‑friendly pagination
A lengthy catalog has lots of upsides, but they also pose a challenge in terms of management.
And not only as it relates to your SEO, but user experience as well (the more product cards a category has, the harder it’ll be for users to find what they’re looking for).
So, above all, you must make everything as easy as possible for your customers: enhanced user experience = satisfied customers = better positioning.
And one of the most effective strategies is to install a smart internal search engine.
That is, a search engine that:
Its importance is such that our clients’ average conversion rate increases by 15-20% after installing Doofinder.
Want to see for yourself how much of a difference an advanced search engine can make? You got it.
Give it a go and sit back as your clients (and revenue) thank you for it. 😉