Faceted navigation is a type of website navigation that enables people to apply multiple filters to narrow down search results on a certain page. Ecommerce websites are a great example of sites that use faceted navigation as it lets their customers filter search results based on attributes like size, colour, price, brand, and so on (an example might be filtering a page of trainers to show only those that are immediately available in the customer’s size).. 

Faceted navigation is often located in a website’s sidebar and includes multiple categories that users can select to filter their results. 

It’s not only ecommerce websites that use faceted navigation, you can also often see it on other large websites like newspapers and job boards. 

How can faceted navigation impact SEO?

There are many considerations when weighing up how to manage the SEO of a website with faceted navigation. Three of the main ways faceted navigation impacts SEO are through duplicate content, crawl budget, and long-tail keywords.

Wasted crawl budget 

Crawl budget refers to the number of pages search engine bots will crawl and index for a domain. Search engine bots can waste an awful lot of energy crawling in and out of faceted navigation. If your website’s faceted navigation results in more pages than search engines are willing to crawl and index, there’s a risk that part of your website won’t be indexed and visible on search engines. 

Crawl budget generally isn’t an issue with smaller websites because search engines are very efficient at finding and indexing new content. However, ecommerce stores or large websites with over 10,000 pages, may find that crawl budget can become a serious issue that will require careful management. 

Duplicate content 

Faceted navigation can generate a huge number of website pages because there are often many different combinations available with each one potentially generating a unique URL. In addition to the challenges that this can cause search engine bots as they crawl websites with faceted navigation, by presenting the same content across many different URLs websites run the risk of being penalised for having duplicate content. 

It’s common practice for websites with faceted navigation to implement canonical and noindex tags as a way of managing the risks of duplicate content.

Long-tail keywords 

Long-tail keywords are search phrases that are typically made up of three or more words. They are more descriptive and specific than shorter one or two-word keywords and can often present an opportunity to rank well and attract high-quality organic traffic. Faceted navigation can help websites rank for long-tail keywords by creating pages that specifically fit with what a searcher is looking for. For example, if somebody is searching the internet for a model of watch in a specific colour and size, a website with faceted navigation could automatically generate URLs and pages that closely mirror the detailed and specific keywords the searcher has used.