Google has stopped supporting the rel=next/prev markup it launched back in 2011. The interesting part is, Google has not supported it for the past few years and didn’t tell anyone!
What is rel=next/prev? Rel=next/prev was markup you were able to add to your web pages to communicate to Google that these pages are all part of a larger set of pages. So if you have an article split into several pages, you were able to tell Google that those pages were all part of the same set. Google would then combine all the signals and content from all the pages in the set.
Google stopped supporting it. Google’s John Mueller confirmed today on Twitter that Google stopped supporting it completely.
When did Google stop supporting it? It is unclear as to when Google stopped supporting it. John Mueller said it was a “number of years ago.”
Why did Google stop supporting it? Google said it saw sites approach pagination differently since it stopped supporting it, so the company feels that people are building great sites without the markup.
What does Google recommend now? Google is now recommending to try to make sure they put their content on a single page and not break them into multiple pages for the same piece of content. Google said on Twitter “Studies show that users love single-page content, aim for that when possible, but multi-part is also fine for Google Search. Know and do what’s best for *your* users!”
Communication breakdown. The crazy part about this is that Google has been recommending the use of the rel=next/prev throughout the years. In fact, Google just recommended that we use it in the latest Google webmaster hangout from two days ago!
So webmasters, SEOs, developers and companies have been putting resources into implementing this markup and maintaining it without any benefit at all.
It makes you wonder what else is in Google’s help documentation that Google currently do not support?