How Faceted Navigation can Impact SEO

By May 12, 2017 SEO, SEO Strategies No Comments
If you want to give your prospects the best possible experience, then you likely use a faceted navigation system to allow your visitors to navigate your website with ease. The problem, however, is that using this layout can harm your search engine optimization rank more than you would think. Unless you take steps to address the issue, you will get less organic traffic than before, impacting your bottom line in a negative way. The good news is that you can make your website easy to navigate without harming your position in the search engines.

Faceted Navigation Overview

Before you do anything else, let’s review what a faceted navigation system looks like so that we can get an even better understanding of the issue at hand. The layout allows your visitors to find the exact product they want by filtering their search results. It’s important to remember that each combination has a link pointing to it, and this can trigger Google to flag your website for having duplicate content. Also, a faceted navigation system will spread your domain authority to pages that you don’t need to index, wasting your SEO potential.

Noindex Tags

Those who want to reduce the harm of a faceted navigation system often turn to noindex tags to get the job done. At the surface, this solution seems to make a lot of sense, but you will need to take a close look if you want to get a clear picture. Although using noindex tags will prevent Google from flagging you for using duplicate content, it won’t stop your extra links from consuming your crawl budget. If the search engines spend too much time crawling links that don’t matter, your SEO efforts might not draw any attention.

Nofollow Tags

Nofollow tags are another option that you can try when your goal is to maintain your SEO rank. These tags will tell the search engines not to crawl your faceted pages and prevent you from wasting your crawl budget. But this solution is not without its setbacks. If you opt to take this path, it won’t stop Google from picking up duplicate content on your site, which will put you at risk for a penalty.

JavaScript

If you are building a new website, you can implement your faceted system with JavaScript to avoid common pitfalls. Doing so will allow you to get the same benefits without putting your SEO rank in harm’s way. With JavaScript, you can use the same link for different filters, and you won’t need to worry about wasting your crawl budget or domain authority on pages that don’t matter. When you use this method, you will need to manually ensure that Google and the other search engines can index key pages if you don’t want to be overlooked.

Final Thoughts

Using a faceted system without running into problems with SEO is not impossible, but you will need to weigh your options and consider what is important to you. Taking one path will force you to give up benefits from other areas, and making the wrong choice can hurt your progress. If you are not sure what solution makes the most sense for you, review your website and ask yourself if you prefer to save your crawl budget, domain authority or time, and the correct answer will become apparent. When you don’t get the outcome for which you had hoped, you can always try new approaches until you find one that meets your needs.

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