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We have concerns over the structure of our store - Products and categories - In terms of SEO and findability of products.

Say you have a configurable product (T-shirt) with 3 configurations (Colour, Size, Logo) - Correct me if I am making wrong assumptions but if you were just to have the configurable products on your store, your ranking for 'Blue T-shirt' would be a lot lower than if you had the specific simple products on your site?

The layered navigation/filters are bad for SEO so that is unlikely to help us in this situation - One way to get around it to be able to use configurable products and have simple products (that are canonically linked top the configurable) in more specific categories so your category structure would be:

  • T-shirts (contains configurable)
    • Blues T-shirts (Contains simple products)
    • Red T-shirts (Contains simple products)
    • Large T-shirts (Contains simple products)
    • Design 1 T-shirts (Contains simple products)

Would this be an appropriate way to structure categories or products? Is this overkill?

I would love any input and I hope I am missing something as the above category structure seems convoluted to me (you would end up with loads of categories in your layered nav?) - What is the best way to handle this?

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I'm not going for a "right" answer here, just that the comments box won't fit all this it in!

Is layered navgiation really that bad for SEO?

I respect Inchoo - but I'm not sure that video is accurate.

Google Webmaster Tools has some slick functionality for parameter identification and really takes advantage of layered navigation.

You can improve layered nav by replacing the key=id structure with key=value (eg. colour=black) and be able to capture long-tail traffic via layered navigation URLs.

Don't categorise attributes

Its a pet hate here, but categories aren't attributes and vice versa. Red is a colour, which is an attribute of an item; clothing is a type, which is a category for an item.

You can always implement Shop By Attribute type functionality (eg. shop by brand) - that can give you the clean URLs, with custom meta data, copy, designs and canonical URLs - on an attribute basis.

Otherwise, you face having hundreds of duplicate categories as the sub-category tree requires repetition of the same values for each top-level. Don't do it.

Configurables

We've tackled the configurable product issue in a few different ways - the best solution we've had to date is to only show the configurable items in the product grids - but then when looking at the item, selecting different variations loads the alternative product; using ajax and browser history push. But for search engines, they have the full and proper links to view the items.

Dynamic URLs/titles for products combining attributes can also help in this respect.

There's a risk of duplicate page content, so keeping page source diversity high is important.

Just design it for your customers not robots

This is the golden rule for everything really. You'll find that a more "shoppable" shop, low-volume, high conversion is worth more than a low-converting, high volume site. That being said, making a high-volume site, high-converting gives big wins too - but that usually comes at some compromise.

So just design the shop with both how a customer needs to navigate it - whilst giving search engines the little bit they need to help you rank accordingly.

We don't provide ANY SEO services. So take my words with a pinch of salt.

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  • Thanks for your reply guys, some interesting ideas in there. I agree with you on not having attributes as categories, definitely feels wrong to me too, that was the main reason for my question really, it was suggested setting up that way would be good for SEO but UX and maintainability wise it's horrible. Have you got an example of setting your configurables up like that, seems like an interesting idea. Yup, I wholly agree with your last point, finding that happy medium is my goal here :) – Glo Mar 11 '13 at 9:41
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For better SEO of your catalog, first just assume that you are running a search engine. Now think what kind of thing you want to show to your user if you are running search engine.

Answer is most relevant content on what user is searching for.

So just design your store in such a way that it seem to be very relevant.

Regardless of what you type of product you are creating(configurable, simple etc) just put some good information about your product on your page.

Also use microfromate and schema for review and your product should be reviewed by so many people.

Now when it comes to layered navigation, it is bad for seo but good for your customers. It is bad because of more than 1 URL for the same and narrow the search.

If you still want to render layred navigation then use javascript to render the layred navigation, or you can identify the user agent and hide the layred navigation in cause of the user agent is robot.

I found very good resource for the magento SEO on http://www.techflirt.com/magento-seo/

This is having very good coverage of seo concept in magento including your concerns.

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