- What is Faceted Search and how it works?
- Filters and facets: two ways of narrowing search choices
- Examples of filters and facets online
- Why should you use faceted search on your ecommerce site?
- How to manage indexing in case of faceted filters?
- Ways to avoid indexing
- Title, H1 and description for faceted search
- Common mistakes when implementing faceted search filters
- Best practices for faceted navigation
What is Faceted Search and how it works?
Faceted search, also known as faceted navigation or guided navigation, is a search technique that allows users to explore and refine large sets of data, such as products in an e-commerce website or articles in a news website, by selecting one or more attributes or facets that are relevant to their search.
Faceted search typically presents a set of filters or facets that correspond to different attributes of the data, such as category, price range, size, color, brand, and more. Users can then select one or more filters to refine search results to a specific subset of data that matches the selected criteria.
For example, in an e-commerce website, a user might be looking for a shirt and start with a general search query like “men’s shirt.” The search results might include thousands of products, but by using faceted search, the user can easily narrow down the results by selecting filters such as “long sleeve”, “red”, and “size XL”, resulting in a more manageable and relevant set of search results.
Faceted search is a powerful tool for exploring and discovering data, and it is widely used in e-commerce, news websites, and other applications where large sets of data need to be organized and presented in a user-friendly way.
Filters and facets: two ways of narrowing search choices
Filters and facets are both tools used in e-commerce and other applications to help users refine and quickly narrow down search results. However, there are some key differences between the two.
Filters are used to remove items from a list based on a specific criterion. For example, in an e-commerce website, a user may want to filter out products that are out of stock or are above a certain price point. Filters are often applied using checkboxes or drop-down menus, and the user can select one or more filters to remove unwanted items from the search results.
Facets, on the other hand, are used to group and organize items based on shared characteristics or attributes. Facets allow users to explore search results by narrowing down the options based on different categories or characteristics. For example, in an e-commerce website, a user may want to search for shoes and then use facets to narrow down the search results by brand, size, color, or other attributes.
In summary, filters are used to remove items from a list based on specific criteria, while facets are used to group and organize items based on shared characteristics or attributes. Both filters and facets can be used together to provide a more powerful and user-friendly search experience.
Here are some examples when filters and facets are used together:
- Category-based facets: If your e-commerce site offers products across multiple categories, you can use category-based facets to allow users to filter their search results by category, while also using other filters such as price range, brand, or size.
- Color and size filters with corresponding facets: Users can filter products based on color and size, while the facets show the available options for each filter.
- Brand filters with corresponding facets: Users can filter products based on brand, while the facets show the available brands for each filter.
- Price range filters with corresponding facets: Users can filter products based on price range, while the facets show the available price ranges for each filter.
See some examples of filters and facets below.
Examples of filters and facets online
Here are some examples of filters and facets in e-commerce websites:
- Price range: Users can filter products by a specific price range, such as under $50 or over $100.
- Availability: Users can filter products by availability, such as in stock or out of stock.
- Brand: Users can filter products by brand, such as Nike, Adidas, or Puma.
- Rating: Users can filter products by customer rating, such as 4 stars or higher.
- Shipping options: Users can filter products by shipping options, such as free shipping or expedited shipping.
- Category: Users can use facets to explore products by category, such as men’s clothing, women’s clothing, or accessories.
- Size: Users can use facets to narrow down products by size, such as small, medium, or large.
- Color: Users can use facets to filter products by color, such as red, blue, or green.
- Material: Users can use facets to filter products by material, such as cotton, leather, or polyester.
- Style: Users can use facets to filter products by style, such as casual, formal, or athletic.
Let us show the best examples of faceted search on ecommerce sites that will definitely motivate you to do the perfect filters and facets on your website!
The online store uses icons to show brands available in the category:
You can have multiple choice for several facets, such as size, color, collection, brand, and so on. When you select certain parameters, only the matching parameters remain active in the remaining facets.
A nice example of both filters and facets is shown on instacart.com: let’s go to the page https://www.instacart.com/store/costco/collections/snack-bars
Here you can see the filters:
- Sales & Promotions
- Dietary Preference
They are the same for all the categories.
There are also facets that are unique to this product category:
- Granola Bars
- Fruit Bars
- Protein Bars
- More Snack Bars
You can notice that visually the facets and filters are different from each other.
Why should you use faceted search on your ecommerce site?
- Improved user experience: Faceted search allows customers to quickly and easily narrow down their search results by applying filters based on their specific needs and preferences. This can lead to a more satisfying and efficient shopping experience.
- Increased engagement and conversions: By providing customers with more relevant and targeted search results, faceted search can increase engagement and conversions on your e-commerce site.
- Better product discovery: Faceted search helps customers discover new products that they may not have found through traditional keyword search alone.
- Competitive advantage: E-commerce sites that offer faceted search can gain a competitive advantage over those that do not, by providing a more user-friendly and efficient search experience.
- Increased customer loyalty: By making it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for and discover new products, faceted search can lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.
How to manage indexing in case of faceted filters?
So you implemented faceted search on your website, but how to organize the process for managing indexing when using faceted filters? If you try to make a search engine index all possible combinations, the number of pages will not even be thousands, but hundreds of thousands. The number of combinations is growing exponentially. Too many facets can can hinder successful indexing of the faseted pages that you really want to index.
Here are some best practices to follow when providing search engine optimization for filters and facets.
1. Limitations on properties in parameters
The very first restriction is not to index pages if two properties are selected in the same parameter (for example, size – S and L, color – red and white). Such pages are extremely useless in terms of online store ranking – no one is looking for two parameters at once.
2. Limitations on the number of parameters
The second restriction is not to index pages with more than 2 different parameters. Most often such pages will not have even ultra-low search volume, and the index will become significantly better.
3. Parameters for search, parameters for indexing
Not all parameters important for visitors have search volume. Indexation on such parameters can be limited without excluding them from faceted filtering.
4. Limitations on properties
This rule is similar to the previous rule about parameters – not all of the properties of each parameter should be indexed. This is a fine-tuning, which is labor-intensive to implement. However, such a limitation will greatly improve the index of the site.
5. Limitations on the number of products
Naturally, it is not necessary to index pages that have no products. But does your site need pages with only 1 product found? As a rule, user experience on such pages is very bad, which significantly increases the quality of the index. I believe that you should rank directories of 3 or more products.
Ways to avoid indexing
1. Rel canonical or noindex
We prefer to specify as canonical the main directory page. But noindex works fine in this case too.
With this server response, it is possible to avoid indexing of search filters you don’t want to be in index. It seems to crawling budget is preserved.
3. Rel=”nofollow” for links
Links to filters and facets, which should not be indexed, good to prevent from indexation with nofollow tag.
Title, H1 and description for faceted search
- Title tags are an important on-page SEO element and should accurately describe the content of the page. For faceted filter pages, it’s important to include the main keyword(s) for the page, such as the category or product type being filtered, along with the specific filter being applied. For example, “Men’s Shoes | Athletic Shoes | Nike” could be a good title tag for a page that filters men’s shoes by athletic shoes from the Nike brand.
- For faceted filter pages, the H1 heading should be similar to the title tag and include the main keyword(s) for the page and the filter being applied. For example, “Men’s Athletic Shoes | Nike” could be a good H1 heading for the same page mentioned in the title tag example.
- Product descriptions are used to provide a brief summary of the content on the page and can be useful for both SEO and user experience. For faceted filter pages, the description should be concise and accurately describe the content of the page, including the main keywords and filter being applied. For example, “Shop a wide selection of men’s Nike athletic shoes, filtered by size, color, and style” could be a good description for the same page mentioned in the title tag and H1 heading examples.
It’s important to note that when generating title tags, H1 headings, and descriptions for faceted filter pages, you should avoid duplicating content across multiple pages. This can be a common issue with faceted filter pages, as the same content may be displayed on multiple pages with different filters applied. To avoid this, use canonical tags to indicate the preferred version of the page and avoid indexing duplicate content.
Common mistakes when implementing faceted search filters
When offering facets based on product results and attributes, any additional selectable filters and facets should update dynamically when a user clicks on them. A well-designed faceted search should avoid leading shoppers to a 0-results page and always display at least one product that matches the selected search criteria.
Poorly organized menus can cause usability problems and have a negative impact on search results and quality. Here are some tips how to build a user-friendly menu.
- Determine which facets are collapsible: some facets may be more important than others and may need to be visible at all times, while others can be collapsed to reduce clutter on the page. Decide which facets are best suited for collapsible or expandable menus.
- To make it clear to users which facets are collapsible, use icons or text to indicate that they can be expanded or collapsed.
- Use a consistent design for all collapsible menus to provide a familiar experience to users. For example, use the same icon or text to indicate expandable menus across all pages.
- When a facet is collapsed, display the most commonly selected option as the default, making it easier for users to find what they need quickly.
- Make it easy to expand and collapse menus: use clear and clickable buttons or icons to expand and collapse menus, and ensure that they are large enough to be easily clickable on both desktop and mobile devices.
- Test your collapsible menu design with users to ensure that it’s intuitive and effective, and make any necessary adjustments based on their feedback.
Best practices for faceted navigation
When making a faceted navigation system for an e-commerce website, it’s important to make it both search engines and user-friendly. Consider the following:
Use relevant filters
Only include filter options that are relevant to the products or services you offer. This will make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for and avoid overwhelming them with too many options.
Standardize your product data
Ensure that your product data is consistent and standardized, including attributes such as product names, descriptions, and prices. This will make it easier to create effective filters and facets.
Optimize your faceted search for mobile
Ensure that your faceted navigation is optimized for mobile devices, with clear user interface and easy-to-use filters and facets that are accessible on small screens.
Display store- or industry-specific facets
Consider including facets that are specific to your store or industry, such as materials used or certifications earned.
Include customer reviews as a facet
Use customer reviews as a facet to help customers filter products by ratings and find highly-rated products.
Use thematic filters
Use thematic filters and facets that group similar products or services together, such as color or style, to make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for.
Arrange the order of facets based on your customers
Consider arranging the order of facets based on what your customers are likely to use most, such as price or brand.
Organize facet values
Organize the values within each facet in a logical order, such as alphabetical or numerical.
Display selected values within facets
Display the values that have already been selected within each facet to help customers keep track of their selections.
Let users choose multiple filters
Allow customers to choose multiple filters at once, rather than limiting them to one filter at a time.
Refresh page and search results quickly
Ensure that the page and search results refresh quickly when a new filter is applied to avoid frustration and keep customers engaged.