Faceted navigation is a term given to a certain practice with e-commerce sites that allows users to search from the general to the narrow using navigable patterns built into the website. For instance, you may set up your website to allow users to search for widgets. After being taken to the widgets page on your website, they are then able to search that section of your site by several different subcategories, which might include:
- Color (e.g. blue widgets, pink widgets, white widgets, etc.)
- Type (e.g. automatic widgets, manual widgets, double-barreled widgets)
Visit Amazon.com and you’ll see examples of faceted navigation on just about every product page. They do it well.
There are challenges that comes with this kind of setup. When your customer is allowed to arrive at a product page from a variety of different pages on a site your e-commerce system has to pull in specific parameters to navigate the customer to each specific page. Many e-commerce sites use dynamic URLs to make this happen. If that’s the case, each product page may have multiple URLs, in which case your website will have duplicate content issues. What you want is a single navigable URL for each product and category on your website.
Make sure each of your category and product pages use keyword-based parameters rather than numerical or non-specific identifier parameters in the URLs.
For example, for the blue widget category on your site you’ll want it to say examplewebsite.com/blue-widgets/product?item=automatic-widget&sid=123. This is much better than examplewebsite.com/b15/k425/product?item=automatic-widget. The category and session ID are represented by the b15 and k425, but those parameters don’t change the page content at all whereas the keyword-based “blue-widgets” does.