Faceted navigation can be a great way to help website visitors quickly filter and explore your website’s content. Properly implemented faceted navigation – which often includes terms such as filters and taxonomies – can improve usability, help customers find what they’re looking for faster and enable better targeting of content based user interest.
However, when it comes to search engine optimization, having multiple choices available on certain pages can present its own set of challenges. Faceted navigation options may appear to offer more choices, but in reality, diluting link equity and generating duplicate content for search engines can have a negative impact on organic visibility.
In this blog post, we will examine best practices for implementing faceted navigation to ensure SEO success and provide actionable examples to help you get started.
What is Faceted Navigation?
Faceted navigation is a combination of filtering, sorting and grouping options that enable a user to quickly locate items related to their search query.
It offers visitors the ability to see what types of items are available and narrow them down based on criteria selection. Faceted navigation is often seen in eCommerce stores and large websites that have a variety of items such as clothes, cars, homes and other types of products.
The idea behind faceted navigation is to create a more intuitive and efficient way for website visitors to find what they’re looking for. This type of navigation usually consists of filters and taxonomies displayed prominently on the page and may include options such as product category, price range, manufacturer, size and color.
Best Practices for SEO Success
There are certain best practices that you can use to ensure that implementing faceted navigation does not have a negative effect on SEO.
1. Make Sure Your URLs Are Unique
When you’re implementing faceted navigation, it is important to make sure that the URLs that are created are unique to the page that is being generated.
If you’re using dynamic URLs, the parameters used should be unique and not duplicated across different category pages or product pages. Having a unique URL for each filter selection on the page will ensure that search engines understand which page you’re creating and that all link equity is properly attributed to that page.
2. Make Your Faceted Navigation Options Visible
The primary purpose of faceted navigation is to make it easier for visitors to find the content that they’re looking for. To do this effectively, it is important to make the faceted navigation options visible on the page.
This can be done by ensuring that the navigation is placed prominently on the page, preferably close to the top. If the options are hard to find, it can be an indication to search engines that the content is not valuable or relevant to the query.
3. Avoid Duplicate Content
Having multiple pages with the same content can be an SEO issue. This can occur if you’re using the same content set on different pages, such as if you’re using the same product database across multiple categories.
To avoid this, make sure that you’re using the rel=“canonical” tag on all of your faceted navigation pages to tell search engines which page is the preferred version. You can also use Noindex and Nofollow tags to ensure that you’re not creating duplicate content, as well as implementing link rel=“nofollow” on all faceted navigation links.
4. Use Short, Descriptive URLs
When using faceted navigation, it is important to use short and descriptive URLs. Long and complex URLs can be hard for both users and search engines to understand, and they can also increase your site’s crawl budget.
Make sure that you’re including the most important keywords for the page in the URL, as this can help with search engine visibility. This is especially important for product pages, so including the product name and other relevant information at the beginning of the URL can be beneficial.
5. Minimize the Number of Faceted Navigation Options
Having too many faceted navigation options can be overwhelming for visitors and search engines alike. If you’re using too many options, it can be an indication to search engines that your page is irrelevant or low quality.
Therefore, it is important to limit the number of options available. You should also prioritize key attributes such as product name, price and color over more obscure features, as this will make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for.
Now that we’ve gone over the best practices for SEO success with faceted navigation, let’s look at a few actionable examples.
1. Implement Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are a great tool for both usability and SEO. They enable users to easily keep track of where they are in the navigation structure, as well as make it easier for search engines to follow the breadcrumbs back to the main page.
When implementing breadcrumbs, make sure that they are properly coded and include the most important terms and keywords. For example, if a consumer is looking at a product page, the breadcrumb should reference the product name and should link back to the category page.
2. Implement Advanced Search Function
Advanced search is a great tool for both users and search engines. It allows visitors to quickly and easily filter search results to find the item they’re looking for, and it also allows search engine crawlers to index the advanced search pages.
When implementing advanced search, make sure that you’re using the correct terms and keywords that customers may use when searching for the item. For example, if a consumer searching for a “red t-shirt”, the advanced search should include terms such as color and size.
3. Implement Rel=“Canonical” Tags
If you’re creating multiple pages of content with slight differences, it is important to use the rel=“canonical” tag to tell search engines which page is the preferred version.
This will help ensure that you’re not creating duplicate content and that all link equity is properly attributed to the preferred page. Make sure to place the tag on all pages, even if they are not the preferred version, as this will help ensure that search engine crawlers understand which page is the most relevant.
Faceted navigation can be a great way to improve the user experience on your website and make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for. However, when it comes to SEO, it is important to make sure that the implementation is done properly to avoid any negative impact on search engine visibility.
By following best practices such as ensuring your URLs are unique, making faceted navigation options visible, avoiding duplicate content and minimizing the number of options, you can ensure SEO success. Additionally, implementing tools such as breadcrumbs, advanced search and rel=“canonical” tags can help with website usability and SEO performance.
By following the best practices outlined in this post, you can be sure that implementing faceted navigation will not only improve your website’s usability, but also its SEO potential.