Faceted Navigation and SEO – Best Practices
Faceted navigation, parametric search, or faceted search is a technique that website designers use to help users find information on a website. It allows users to filter results by category, which can improve the user experience and also help with search engine optimisation (SEO). However, it can also hurt your SEO if not used correctly. There are some best practices that website owners can follow to make sure their faceted navigation is effective from an SEO standpoint. In this article, we’ll discuss what faceted navigation is and also provide some tips on how to make sure that your faceted navigation doesn’t hurt your SEO efforts. So, if you’re looking to learn more about faceted navigation and its impact on SEO, then keep reading!
Understanding faceted navigation
In simple words, it is a navigation system utilised by websites to enable users to customise their searches through various filters. Remember all those filters you use to narrow down search results while shopping on eCommerce sites? These filters are part of the faceted navigation system. Faceted navigation can be used for eCommerce websites, directories, and other types of websites where there is a large amount of content.
Faceted navigation is highly beneficial for users since it simplifies the search process and guides them to the most relevant results. For example, if you were looking for a specific type of product on an eCommerce website, you could use faceted navigation to filter the results by price, colour, size, etc. This would allow you to find the exact product that you are looking for without having to sift through all of the results. When you use faceted navigation, you are essentially creating different categories for your content. This can help search engines understand what your website is about and match it with relevant searches.
Faceted navigation is mostly used by websites that have large content to improve User Experience. UX can be greatly improved by using faceted navigation as it allows users to filter search results by category; this not only narrows down potential options but provides relevant results according to what the user is looking for.
Faceted Navigation and SEO issues
However, faceted navigation is not without its downside. It can cause some serious SEO issues. Every time a new filter is applied, faceted navigation generates a new URL. This leads to a huge volume of duplicate content that can be damaging to your SEO strategies. The most common issues that SEOs face with faceted navigation include duplicate content, crawl budget wastage, index bloat and dilution of ranking signals.
- Duplicate content refers to identical or very similar content that appears on more than one page of a website. This can happen when different pages have the same Facet options selected. For example, if you have a product with multiple colour options, each colour option would create a different Faceted URL. This can result in hundreds or even thousands of duplicate pages on your site.
- Crawl budget wastage occurs when a search engine spends too much time crawling Faceted URLs that don’t add any value to the user experience. This can result in lower rankings for your site.
- Index bloat happens when a search engine’s index is filled with duplicate content. This can lead search engines to consider your site as low-quality, hurting your SEO efforts and ranking.
- Dilution of ranking signals occurs when the same keyword is used on multiple Faceted URLs. This dilutes the keyword’s power and can lead to lower rankings for that keyword.
Achieving faceted navigation without compromising SEO
You will be glad to know there are proven methods to ensure effective faceted navigation that does not adversely impact your SEO efforts. Here are a few of them:
1.Keep your users in mind
Think from the perspective of your user rather than blindly following best practices. Try to understand what your users will search for and include those attributes as well. One factor that could immensely help you with this is keyword research. Learn how to conduct keyword searches and be updated about the most popular queries and the search volume of each.
2. Establish canonical tags
Ideally, every URL generated by the faceted search of a user must canonicalise to a specified version of the page. In eCommerce sites, the specified page is usually the page where the search originated.
In the instance of the blue sweater mentioned before, the faceted search must canonicalise back to the men’s clothing or men’s sweaters page where the search may have started. This is a great tip to ensure that the constantly generated URLs do not affect your search engine rankings.
3. Google Search Console can help
Search engines crawl duplicate content that is sometimes generated by faceted searches. And when this happens, search engines tag it as duplicate content and therefore do not index it. This can affect the integrity of your website and cause a drastic reduction in the reliability of priority pages that must be crawled.
Take a look at Google Search Console and try to detect any unusual indexing ratio. In case the number of indexed pages is substantially more than the pages crawled, your website likely has duplicate content problems that need to be fixed. Also, if you see a large number of crawled pages that are not indexed, it can indicate that Google does not consider those pages high-quality and are probably duplicate.
4. Apply nofollow for internal links
Nofollow links will stop crawlers from uncovering unimportant URLs and withdrawing precious link equity from your top priority pages. Applying a blanket nofollow for faceted searches can do the trick. However, you may need a bit of coding to achieve that. Also, if you want certain faceted pages to be displayed in the search results, you may need to apply selective nofollow links, which can be quite difficult technically. It is best to take the help of professional SEOs in Perth to ensure you don’t end up with a broken site.
By now, you probably realise that the focus of your faceted navigation must always be on offering an easier and simpler online experience for users. Add design elements that enable users to return to their previous page without any hitches in speed and functionality. Of course, you need to test the mobile version, too, for looks and functionality. Make sure that users are not offered filter combinations that may turn up zero products. Keep monitoring your faceted navigation continuously for any problems and get those fixed immediately. Unfortunately, fixing SEO issues caused by faceted navigation can be quite technical and need web development expertise. Do you want to build a fabulous eCommerce site or want to use a directory on your site but don’t want to deal with the nuts and bolts? We can do it for you. Contact us right away or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Canonical URL – The most representative URL from a set of duplicate pages on your site.
Google Search Console – A free web tool from Google to monitor and manage the performance of your site in Google Search Results.
Crawling – Is the process by which Google searchbots visit and analyse the content on a page. In simpler terms, crawling = visiting a site.
Indexing – The process of collecting the contents (found while crawling) to be displayed in SERPs.