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Faceted Navigation SEO Best Practices Guide

by Andreas Voniatis Founder. Fractional SEO Consultant.

Faceted navigation is normally found in the sidebar of an ecommerce website and contains filters, allowing users to select and search combinations of the product attributes. As a result the web page shows a list of products bespoke to the users needs.

Facets act as indexed categories helping to specify a product listing while acting as an extension of the sites main categories. Best practice dictates that facets should add a unique value for every selection. As facets are indexed, every facet on a website should signal relevance to search engines by ensuring that all important attributes appear within the content of the page.

Although filters are used to sort or select items within a category page they don’t necessarily change the page content (it remains the same, just sorted in a different order), which usually leads to multiple URLs generating duplicate content issues. Thus, leaving all facets and filters crawlable and indexable can lead to:

  • duplicate content issues
  • wasting Google’s computational fixed resources allocated to crawling your website
  • dilution of page level authority
  • keyword cannibalisation

Best Practice

  • Consult your analytics data to establish commercially valuable facets i.e. those that obtain traffic and conversions
  • Block search engine access to non-commercially valuable facets in the robots.txt (using the Disallow: directive), meta robots (“noindex, nofollow"), facet navigation links (rel = nofollow)
  • Canonicalise similar content (either by search intent, product variation or both) within faceted results to the ultimate parent node
  • Prevent clickable links when no products exist for the category/filter
  • Each page should link to its children and parent (easily achieved with breadcrumb trails) and sibling pages, where appropriate.
  • Ensure attributes are always ordered in the same way, otherwise this may result in duplication issues.
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