A few weeks ago, we explored the importance of ensuring the product filters on your website are SEO-friendly. These product filters are also formally referred to as “faceted navigation” in the digital marketing world – a term we’ll avoid using for the purposes of simplicity and straightforwardness.
Sometimes, product filters on an e-commerce site confuse search engines with their overabundance. We shared some tips on how to prevent this from happening through the use of nofollow links, canonicalization, and robots.txt. However, in attempts to make your filters SEO-friendly, you’ll want to ensure you’re not sacrificing usability.
Product filters should be user-friendly and easy to navigate, as effective product filtering can increase conversions by 20 percent. Despite this, many e-commerce businesses still fall victim to inefficient product filtering.
Filters should be optimally consolidated, and testing should always be conducted on desktop and mobile to double check that they are working correctly. A 2018 study found that 39% of online purchases last year were made on a mobile device, making this especially pertinent. Beyond this, there are a few more ways to guarantee user-friendly filtering.
Find the Optimal Number of Filters
For most eCommerce websites, this means consider condensing your filters. There are many instances where filter options are simply overkill. It’s a natural mistake: retailers think that more filter options means a more customizable experience, which makes it easier for a shopper to find what they’re looking for.
The outcome is quite the contrary though, as most shoppers just get confused. Similar filter options should be consolidated.
In the website pictured below, the Women’s Tops category features 45 color filter options. “Skin”, “Nude”, and “Tan” are all separate color filters that could easily be condensed into one.
The same goes for their “Sea Green”, “Fluorescent Green”, “Lime Green”, and “Olive” filter options – all of which can be condensed into one “Green” color option.
When consolidating your filter options, the best thing you can do is put them into ranges. For example, in sizing, you can do: “L-XL”. For pricing, ranges might be: “Under $25”, “$25-$50”, and so on and so forth.
Similarly, focus on the most popular and necessary filters for your products. Not all filters get used as often as others, so either remove less popular filters or consider making them collapsible. That way, they don’t take up too much room on the screen, and shoppers who truly need them can click on them to expand the options.
All of this being said, avoid having too few filters as well. Shoppers still like being able to refine their searches, and not having enough filters could result in the same abandonment rate as having too many.
Place Filters in a Logical Order
If your shoppers are finding it hard to locate the filters they’re looking for, they may as well not be there at all. Filters should have a logical order, beginning with the most commonly used/popular ones at the top, and working their way down.
Additionally, the filter options themselves should be alphabetized for easier navigation. Don’t make users search for the colors they need. Beige should come before black, pink before purple, and so on.
Specify Product Quantity
Always display the number of products available within a specific filter option in parentheses next to it. This saves the user time in the event that no products are currently available within that specific filter option.
Similarly, if it identifies a large amount of products within a specific filter option, then shoppers know off the bat to apply a second overlapping filter to narrow down the options further. If your website offers this kind of dynamic filtering, filter counts should update any time a supplemental filter is applied.
Make Filter Applications Clear
When a user has applied a filter, make it visible and clear that that filter has been selected. This can be achieved in one of two ways:
- In-line: Show a check mark or grayed out box next to the applied filter option.
- Up-top: Above the product options, show all the filters that have been applied in order to generate those results. Place a small “x” alongside each of the filters for removing that specific filter.
Filters should be as easy to remove as they were to apply, with a single click on the same filter option to deselect it.
Evaluate Whether You Even Need Filters
Although having filters may seem like standard modern-day practice for eCommerce websites, this doesn’t mean they work for every website. Not all category pages require product filters. If you only have a few products within a category, do not implement filtering. This will lead to too many filters that populate zero results, or will make it seem like your inventory is even more limited than it is.
As a guideline, if the amount of products you have within a specific category take up more than one page, then you should implement filtering. If all your products within a specific category only take up one page, forego filter implementation.
You’re a Filter Master!
Now that you’re up to speed on all the secrets of user-friendly and SEO-friendly filtering, you’re ready to assess the right faceted navigation system for your eCommerce site. Implementing an effective filtering system is critical to your website’s success.
A Baymard Institute study found that only 16% of eCommerce websites have a good filter experience. It also shows that Macy’s has one of the most effective filtering systems around, so you may want to check out their website for reference. Nonetheless, this statistic shows that even some retail giants have yet to master product filters.
This may be a fact you take comfort in, and you may be thinking: “Great! Well if they’re still working on it, I shouldn’t feel so bad.” Don’t fall victim to this passive attitude, however. Instead, use this fact to stand out from the competition.
On that note, remember also not to base your filters on what your competition is doing. Filters should be personalized based on your own inventory and your customers’ preferences. Like any updates to your site, the goal of effective filtering is to optimize the customer experience – leading to more revenue for your business.