On September 15, 2011, Google announced a new way to handle “pagination” issues for articles and product pages which “spreads” content throughout several pages. A fundamental issue that many webmasters have with any series of pages that contain related and highly similar data is how to alert the search engines to their preferred indexing priorities.
With the new rel=”next” and rel=”prev” link tag elements, webmasters are now able to indicate to the search engines that an interrelated series of products or articles should be indexed and assigned link value as a series:
Implementation is relatively simple; the rel=”next” tag would be placed in the section of “Page 1″ of the series, both rel=”prev” and rel=”next” would be placed on the second page, same again for the third, and rel=”prev would be placed on the last page.
Much like the rel=”canonical” link, which lets you alert the spiders to the “preferred” version of a page, this recent innovation is more of a suggestion than a directive and Google will take the rel=”prev” and rel=”next” directives into account, in addition to other factors, when determining a page’s relevance.