Product filters can be an excellent UX feature, but they can also wreak havoc on your SEO results. The key is to use a canonical tag.
We did a recent digital marketing consultation with a dismayed business owner. He’d reorganized the navigation on his Shopify website, and – long story short – he’d gotten a bit carried away with using product filters.
Here’s the problem. He had one collection page that was “all”
And a second “collection” page for paleo meals:
Notice that the “4 pack” product appears on both these pages. However, when you click through on each page, the filtering process creates a different URL string:
Two URLs for the same product page (and in fact several other combinations are possible).
This creates a real problem for search engines because they don’t know what page to use for search rankings. It’s also a problem within Shopify because the dynamically created pages don’t have back-end functionality that lets you optimize content.
The solution to this problem is two-fold.
First, they must realize that the dynamical pages created by the filters can’t be optimized. If the page created by one of these filters is a topic they want to optimize for, they’ll need to create a main page for it.
Second, they need to use canonical tags, which is an html tag that tells the search engines that a specific URL is the master copy of the page. It looks like this:
This is important for SEO because the preferred page is the one the search engines will index. All ranking factors, such as backlinks, are passed to the canonical page.
Product filters are excellent – and often a necessity – for eCommerce websites. But they create multiple URL strings that can cause major problems for SEO.
Make sure you have one, primary version of each page, and use the canonical tag to identify it to search engines.