With three level category tree (can be more!) where we want the highest level not to be set to 'anchor' but want the next level down to be an 'anchor', what would we do with the lowest level? Set it to 'anchor' or not?


  • Highest level: Category A (not anchor)
  • Middle level: Category B (anchor)
  • Lowest level: Category C (?)

"Is Anchor" is merely "Should layered navigation be on?" - it isn't a setting that needs to propagate down through the category tree.

Whether you want it enabled or not is a judgement call of how your customers interact with your site.

Highest level: Category A (not anchor)
Middle level: Category B (anchor)
Lowest level: Category C (?)

In your example, viewing the landing page for ..

A: Would show a block with direct links (non-param) to the respective sub-categories. It would only display the product grid for products in this category only.

B: Would show the full layered navigation block for the products in both that category and the respective sub-category (C) - irrespective of whether "is_anchor" was true/false in sub-category C.

C: It will either show the layered nav, or not - depending on what setting you pick

A real-world example

Assuming Category B was "furniture" on the Demo store, Category C (bedrooms) could be visible via 2 means:


The first is via the layered navigation itself - and would continue to show the layered navigation irrespective of the fact if Category C had "is_anchor" set to true or false.

Whereas the second link wouldn't show the layered navigation block (if Category C had "is_anchor" set to false).

Consider performance

Typically, if all the categories below and including the top level category (A) cumulatively had 50,000 products in them - your customers wouldn't really benefit from having to trawl through the hundreds of layered navigation options they would see. Similarly - the performance penalty of doing so would be vast.

So people usually provide the first top-level of categorisation to dive down into the respective sub-categories to break this up a little - and provide a more digestible layered navigation.

And usability

Some might argue this defies the purpose of faceted search; but its a judgement call between usability and performance

In summary

What would we do with the lowest level? Set it to 'anchor' or not?

That depends entirely on how you want the customer to interact with that specific category.

  • Thanks for your detailed answer. Very useful and interesting. I think my problem is that I consider Category Cs as useless since they get shown within Category B with their attributes - I can't see a reason at the moment to link directly to it. – darrylxxx Feb 7 '13 at 23:47
  • SEO deeplinks are the main incentive. On most stores we've built - we've modified the layered navigation so that the category links actually are deeplinks to the sub-level category; whilst still preserving the applied layered navigation filters. Which gives you clean links for a search engine and the same experience for a customer. Eg. apart4u.co.uk/cooker-spares.html – Ben Lessani - Sonassi Feb 7 '13 at 23:48
  • Thanks Sonassi, your answers have helped me rethink how we are doing things - we are going to move to having Category C as an anchor and NOT A and B. We'll make Category B more like a landing page in time, but for now we'll assign carefully selected products. I have just marked this question answered too. – darrylxxx Feb 8 '13 at 11:36
  • BTW, do you use an extension on the apart4u site for the brands shown here apart4u.co.uk/cooker-spares/… - if so, which one? – darrylxxx Feb 8 '13 at 11:37

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