Faceted navigation refers to the filters or sorting options typically found on e-commerce websites or large content sites that allow users to narrow their product or content selections based on specific attributes or criteria.
For instance, in an online clothing store, facets might include categories like size, color, brand, price range, material, etc. While faceted navigation is undeniably helpful for users as it provides a simplified and customized browsing experience, it can pose significant challenges in SEO.
From an SEO perspective, faceted navigation can inadvertently generate numerous URL combinations as users apply different filters and sort options. If search engines crawl and index all these URLs, it can lead to duplicate content issues, as many of the pages may show substantially similar content with only slight variations. This can dilute the “authority” of these pages, spread link equity thinly, and consume a site’s crawl budget, the number of pages search engines will crawl on your site within a given timeframe.
To ensure that faceted navigation doesn’t harm a site’s SEO, it’s essential to implement strategies like using the “nofollow” and “noindex” meta directives for certain faceted URLs, employing canonical tags to indicate preferred pages, or even restricting the crawling of specific parameter-driven URLs via the robots.txt file. Properly managing faceted navigation ensures that search engines index the most valuable and unique pages while users still benefit from a tailored browsing experience.