Better product filtering options for E-commerce SEO

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May 27, 2024

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Better product filtering options for E-commerce SEO

Better Product Filtering Options for E-commerce SEO

So, you’re an e-commerce store owner, huh? Bet you’ve got more products than a Costco warehouse. And let me guess – your customers are always complaining that they can’t find what they’re looking for, no matter how many filters you’ve got plastered all over the place.

Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place. As an SEO agency in Manchester, UK, we know a thing or two about making your product filtering game strong enough to rival a professional shopper’s organizational skills.

Filtering for Findability and Discoverability

Now, let’s talk about two important e-commerce concepts: findability and discoverability. Findability is when your customers can easily locate the exact product they’re searching for, like that perfect red and white striped summer dress in a size small. Discoverability, on the other hand, is when they stumble upon products they didn’t even know they needed, like the latest must-have kitchen gadget.

Product filtering is the key to unlocking both of these superpowers. When done right, it can transform your online store from a chaotic, overwhelming mess into a seamless, user-friendly experience that has your customers adding items to their carts faster than you can say “checkout.”

Avoid the Filtering Faux Pas

But here’s the thing – many e-commerce sites make some common mistakes when it comes to their product filtering. In fact, a recent study found that only 16% of major e-commerce giants like Nordstrom and Dell provide users with a “reasonably good” filtering experience. Yikes!

One of the biggest offenders? Duplicate content. When you have a gazillion different filter combinations creating their own unique URLs, it can be a nightmare for search engines to figure out which page is the most relevant. And we all know what happens when search engines get confused – your rankings start to plummet faster than a skydiver without a parachute.

Canonical Tags to the Rescue

Luckily, there’s a simple solution to this problem: canonical tags. These nifty little pieces of code tell search engines which version of a page is the “master copy,” preventing any duplicate content issues.

Here’s an example from the folks over at Conversion Giant:

For this page: <a href="https://www.shoes.com/boys-shoes?size=10boys" rel="nofollow">Size 10</a>, the canonical would look like this:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.shoes.com/boys-shoes" />

Boom! You’ve just told Google that the main boys’ shoes page is the one to focus on, not the filter-specific URL. Genius, right?

Robots.txt: Your Indexing Gatekeeper

But wait, there’s more! Another way to keep your filtering faux pas at bay is by using the trusty robots.txt file. This file acts as a gatekeeper, telling search engine bots which pages they’re allowed to index and which ones they should steer clear of.

Let’s say you’ve got some filter pages that are just taking up valuable crawl budget (that’s the amount of time and resources search engines dedicate to exploring your site) without actually providing any useful content. You can easily block those pages from being indexed by adding a simple command to your robots.txt file, like this:

Disallow: *?color=red
Disallow: *?size=8

Personalize Your Filters for the Win

Now, let’s talk about making your product filtering actually useful for your customers. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to e-commerce, so why should your filters be a one-size-fits-all kind of deal?

Take a page out of CXL’s playbook and start personalizing your filters based on the product category. For example, if someone’s browsing your jewelry collection, they’re probably not going to care about the “material” filter – they’re more interested in things like gemstone type and metal color.

Ditch the Scroll, Embrace the Expand

Another common filtering faux pas is the dreaded “endless scroll” of filter options. I don’t know about you, but when I see a filter list that goes on for days, I immediately start feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic. Instead, take a cue from the experts at The Gray Dot Company and keep your filter options concise, with the ability to expand for more detailed options.

Mobile-Friendly Filtering, FTW

And let’s not forget about our mobile-loving friends. Product filtering on a smartphone can be a real pain in the you-know-what if it’s not done right. Take a look at how Best Buy does it – they’ve got a super user-friendly mobile filtering experience that makes it easy to narrow down your options without feeling like you’re performing surgery on your screen.

Putting it All Together

Alright, so we’ve covered a lot of ground here – from avoiding duplicate content issues to personalizing your filters and making them mobile-friendly. The key is to strike a balance between usability and SEO, because at the end of the day, you want your customers to have a seamless shopping experience that also helps you rank higher in those all-important search results.

Here at MCR SEO, our team of Manchester-based experts is dedicated to helping e-commerce stores like yours level up their filtering game. Whether it’s fine-tuning your canonical tags, optimizing your robots.txt file, or creating a custom filtering experience that delights your customers, we’ve got the skills and knowledge to take your e-commerce game to the next level.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get those filters working harder for you and your customers. Your online store (and your bank account) will thank you.

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