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Faceted Nav: (Almost) Everyone Is Doing it Wrong

Frank Vitovitch's slides from TechSEO Boost 2019

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Faceted Nav: (Almost) Everyone Is Doing it Wrong

  1. 1. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost #TechSEOBoost | @CatalystSEM THANK YOU TO THIS YEAR’S SPONSORS Faceted Nav: (Almost) Everyone Is Doing it Wrong Frank Vitovitch, Botify
  2. 2. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost FRANK VITOVITCH / BOTIFY Faceted Navigation: (Almost) Everyone is Doing it Wrong
  3. 3. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost { "@context": "@type":"Person", "Name": "Frank Vitovitch", "City": "Hoboken", "worksFor": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Botify", "url": "", "jobTitle": "Vice President of Solutions"}, "Twitter": "@FrankieVSEO", "Blog": "", "Skillset": [ "Technical SEO", “Tormented Notre Dame fan", "The Eagles will be good again, I swear" ] }
  4. 4. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost ● Why Faceted Navigations Cause Problems ● Considerations ● Common Facet Handling Methods & Potential Pitfalls ● Where to Start? Agenda
  5. 5. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost What Google Tells Us About Faceted Navigation “Faceted navigation, such as filtering by color or price range, can be helpful for your visitors, but it’s often not search-friendly since it creates many combinations of URLs with duplicative content. With duplicative URLs, search engines may not crawl new or updated unique content as quickly, and/or they may not index a page accurately because indexing signals are diluted between the duplicate versions.” navigation-best-and-5-of-worst.html
  6. 6. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Google doesn’t crawl half of the average website Google only crawls 51% of the average website in a given 30 day period. *SMX Paris: How Does Google Crawl the Web June 13, 2018 Study based on the analysis of 413 million pages crawled by Botify and 6 billion Googlebot requests.
  7. 7. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost And even less of larger websites For websites with more than 1,000,000 URLs, this crawl ratio drops down to 34% CRAWL RATIO AND ACTIVE PAGES RATIO BY WEBSITE SITE
  8. 8. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost But what about the long tail? You were so busy worrying about whether or not you could create pages for all of the long-tail, you never stopped to think if you should
  9. 9. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Faceted Navigation Gone Wild ACCESSIBLE URLS CRAWLED URLS 500,000,000+ Number of Accessible URLs after crawling 10M 10,000,000 Number of URLs we crawled following same rules as Google < 200,000 Number of products for sales on website
  10. 10. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost eCommerce Sites Are not Alone This content focused website just underwent a migration that introduced a faceted search functionality to it’s archives. Only 1,000 of these 490,000+ URLs are actual articles.
  11. 11. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost SEO Implications of Faceted Navigation ● Duplicate Content ● Crawl Budget Issues ● Internal PageRank Dilution ● Potential Lost External Link Equity WORD COUNT (EXCLUDING TEMPLATE) BY FACET COUNT
  12. 12. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Almost everyone gets faceted navigation wrong for 2 reasons. There is no one size fits all, perfect solution and tackling faceted navigation is often an ongoing process - not something you can set and forget. 1 Most out of box platforms are not set up to be SEO friendly when it comes to faceted navigation. 2
  13. 13. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost 2. Considerations for Handling Faceted Navigation Pages
  14. 14. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost How many facets are you letting Google crawl? In this example, this website crawled 20,000,000 URLs of which, nearly 19,000,000 were to faceted pages. Just knowing how many facets you have that are crawlable is only the first consideration.
  15. 15. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Are those faceted pages even driving traffic? Analyze all of your faceted pages and determine if these pages are even driving traffic for your today. ● Is it specific facets? ● Is it a specific facet count?
  16. 16. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost And how much crawl budget is being wasted on facets? 0 1 2 3 CRAWLS BY GOOGLE (Bots) VISITS FROM GOOGLE (Users) Potentially wasted crawl budget
  17. 17. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost How should you handle facets on your website? Ask Yourself 2 Questions Is there demand for the pages I am currently producing? 1 2 Do you have enough inventory (products/content) to create a page with potential to rank?
  18. 18. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Do I have inventory to support this page? Is there sufficient search demand for this page to exist? Should you make those pages crawlable/indexable? INDEX PAGE DON’T INDEX YES NO YES NO BLOCK CRAWL
  19. 19. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Keyword research is essential This is not a presentation on keyword research but two great sources of data are: ● GSC Data - what terms are users actually using to get to your faceted pages? ● Paid Search Data - what terms are actually resulting in conversions/revenue from faceted pages?
  20. 20. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Map Out Search Demand by Major Categories RUNNING SHOES GENDER COLOR SIZE TYPE WEIGHT BRAND WIDTH FEATURES List out all facets that are currently crawlable by search engines for your major product categories and map them out based on facets that have: ● Significant Demand ● Limited Demand ● No Demand
  21. 21. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost How many products is enough? Number of Products in the Category Page Pct(%)ofActiveURLs
  22. 22. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost 3. Common Facet Handling Methods & Potential Pitfalls
  23. 23. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost What tools do we have in our arsenal?
  24. 24. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Faceted Nav Tactics Cheat Sheet Duplicate Content Crawl Budget Internal PageRank Dilution Pass External Link Equity Noindex Nofollow Links Robots.txt Canonicals Parameter Handling JavaScript
  25. 25. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Noindex, no problem? Not quite Potential Pitfall: Relying solely on noindexing faceted pages. Consideration: While noindexing the pages should help with duplicate content issues, it will not help with crawl budget issues and internal pagerank will continue to be passed to nonindexable pages. Best Uses: Low inventory pages that may one day have enough inventory to warrant their own pages and on pages with multiple facets within same grouping are selected.
  26. 26. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Long-term no-indexing considerations Google tries to “remember” things about URLs, so if a URL has been noindexed in the past, they might be hesitant to go back and crawl it again, even if the noindex was removed. - Google Webmaster Conference Product Summit Tip: Regularly create a sitemap of URLs whose noindex/index status has changed.
  27. 27. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Nofollowing Facets Helps But... Potential Pitfall: Relying on nofollowing links to facets that don’t have search demand to solve duplicate content. Consideration: These pages can still ultimately get indexed if there isn’t a noindex tag on them or they are not blocked by robots. This also relies on Google to respect all the nofollow links in place. Best Uses: In if used in combination with other tactics to limit discoverability.
  28. 28. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Robots.txt Considerations Potential Pitfalls: Blocking unintended areas of your website and potential lost link equity. Consideration: Test robots.txt changes by crawling your website with your new directives to ensure that you have not accidentally blocked any unintended areas of your website. Best Uses: Blocking facets you are sure have no search demand that will waste crawl budget and create duplicate content
  29. 29. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Don’t forget to noindex before blocking with robots Potential Pitfall: It might be tempting to just start blocking the crawling of facets after they’ve been index. The problem here is, those pages can stay in the index. Consideration: What is worse for your website? Tip: Create a sitemap of recently noindexed pages to speed up their removal from the index (just don’t forget to remove the sitemap eventually)
  30. 30. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost JavaScript Potential Pitfall: When URLs do not change at all, it can make it difficult for users to share links or to navigate your product archives. Considerations: This can be one of the most difficult and development intensive to implement. UX should always be considered first. Adding parameters to the URLs via JavaScript can make them shareable and provide better UX.
  31. 31. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Be careful not to overuse Canonicals Potential Pitfall: Canonical tags are meant to be used to mitigate duplicate content for exact duplicates, not as a means to combine signals for near duplicate content. Best Uses: For cases of facet ordering creating unique URLs.
  32. 32. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost What Google Tells Us About Faceted Navigation “The cleaner you can make your signals, the more likely we'll use them.” John Mueller Reddit AMA April 2018
  33. 33. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost 4. Where to Start
  34. 34. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Bring your brooms, because it’s a mess Cleaning up from a faceted navigation gone wild can be a long, continuous process full of successes, failures, and tweaks on tweaks.
  35. 35. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost The First Cut is the Deepest… Where to Start? Slow & Steady Approach - When your facets aren’t out of control, starting slow and gradually limiting crawling/indexing of specific facets. Tear It Down & Build it Back Up - When you have an massive faceted navigation problem and you massively reduce crawling/indexing of facets before gradually re 1 2 We generally see our clients take one of two approaches to tackle issues caused by faceted navigation
  36. 36. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost “It Depends”
  37. 37. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost SCALE & ITERATE Scale tests that delivered results & keep testing! MEASURE Listen to your data again and determine if it worked. Spoiler: it doesn’t always work. IMPLEMENT Implement tests to specific facets/combinations. ANALYZE Dive into your data and make informed decisions based on your audience’s demand and your inventory.
  38. 38. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Metrics to measure… outside of the obvious ● Active Pages - Did the number of the pages sending traffic drop drastically? ● Pages Crawled - Is Google still crawling URLs you don’t want it to? ● URLs Indexed - How has the number of pages you have indexed changed? ● Crawl Frequency/Rates - Is Google spending less time on faceted pages and more time elsewhere? ● Click Depth - Is it easier or harder to find important pages (products/content) ● Long Tail Keyword Traffic - Has traffic for longtail terms specifically dropped? ● Orphaned URLs - Did you cut out any pages that were generating traffic?
  39. 39. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost When tackling faceted navigation goes right Situation: eCommerce website with extensive product line migrated to a new platform with an out of box implementation of facet handling. ● All facets were crawlable ● No parameter handling was set up in GSC ● 99% of URLs crawled were faceted URLs BEFORE 13,000,000+ Number of Accessible URLs 300,000 Number of URLs we crawled following same rules as Google
  40. 40. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost 95% Increase in Organic Traffic Year Over Year Implemented a combination of tactics to tackle the issue. ● Parameter handling in GSC ● Noindex thin product archives (not enough inventory) ● Nofollow on facets they didn’t want crawled (not enough search demand) ● Robots.txt directives to limit crawl AFTER
  41. 41. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Facet Cleanup Leads to Increase in Crawl Ratio Situation: Smaller eCommerce website cut down the size of their site by restricting crawling on facets. ● Added combination of noindex & canonicals to handle duplicate content ● Added robots directives to restrict crawling CRAWL RATIO (Pct of Linked Pages Crawled by Google over 30 days) +20%
  42. 42. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost More Work Remains Though While more of the pages they want crawled are being crawled by Google, this site now has over 500,000 orphaned URLs that were still crawled this month. ● Ensure none of the orphans were receiving traffic ● Reintroduce anything of value that was lost.
  43. 43. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost 5. Main Takeaways
  44. 44. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Leveraging Our Client’s Lessons Learned for Facets There is no “right” way to handle facets universally Consider platform/CMS limitations & partner with your developers! Map out all possible facet combinations before making any changes Understand your audience and your inventory before making decisions Implement changes based on which problems facets are causing Use a combination of tactics to handle facets based on Monitor your logs daily after making changes to your facet handling Continue to tweak facet handling as your audience & inventory changes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  45. 45. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Thank You Stop by our booth or talk to us at Happy Hour!
  46. 46. Frank Vitovitch | @FrankieVSEO | #TechSEOBoost Thanks for Viewing the Slideshare! – Watch the Recording: Or Contact us today to discover how Catalyst can deliver unparalleled SEO results for your business.