Purpose

To describe how we manage canonical category URLs in Aphix WebShop for both your customers and search engines.

Introducing terms and concepts used in this article

Term

Definition

Canonical URL

the best representative address of a website where a group of duplicate pages have been identified by a search engine, such as Google.

Category

a class that contains one or more products from your product listing.

Category tree

a hierarchy containing your product listings consisting of parent and child categories.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

a method of attracting more organic traffic to your website (in this case, WebShop) by making it appear higher on search engine results pages.

Uniform resource locator (URL)

the address of a website.

More information

When structuring how you represent each product's location (i.e its URL), consider two things:

  • How your customers use your WebShop to find products. In particular, your customers like to be able to read the URL when they open a product category. Then they want to easily interact with the provided list to filter it in order to quickly find the product they want.

  • How search engines, such as Google, crawl, index and return search results. Search engine 'bots' require reliable ways to identify unique pages. Typically, each product page is easy to locate (crawl to by the 'bot'). Also, each product page has indicated how we want it to be indexed.

Balancing how humans interact and how 'bots' interact with your product pages is the key to providing both a great customer experience and search engines identifying unique pages when requested.

Key determinants that help to balance these two interactions are:

How you structure your category tree

Structure category tree

The structure of your category tree and the products contained in each category is a key determinant in how successful search engine results are, and how your customers can browse your product catalogue. Read more about how category trees are structured here.

Many different category tree structures are possible:

  • Simple three level category tree, with no filter options.

This category tree is structured such that each product is in the category tree once and once only. When a customer is browsing, they may need to move between many pages to locate the product they require. This makes it easy for search engines to classify your product pages, but your customer's user experience is compromised.

  • Category structure that has a brand filter associated with it.

This category tree is structured such that a brand filter is associated with a particular category of products. For example, your customers may browse to the Bathrooms category, and then filter by a particular manufacturer. This means that the product is listed in more than one categories. This improves your customer's experience, but may impact the way search engines classify the product content. Despite the content of the product pages being slightly different, search engines may classify them as duplicate content.

  • Category structure that contains many filters, such as colours, shape, size and so on. 

This category tree is structured such that each product category is associated with many filters, such as colours, shapes, size and so on. Filters can be set up differently depending on the products. For example, you can filter some products by colour and size, others by only colour and others by only size. This means that the product is listed in many categories. Again, this improves your customer's experience, but may impact the way search engines classify the product content. Despite the content of the product pages being slightly different, search engines may classify them as duplicate content.

How you configure the URLs for each product page

Configure URL

Each product page has an unique URL. These URLs are one of two types:

  • a URL which we have labelled 'friendly' or 'vanity' URL. This means which that it can be read easily by your customers. An example of a 'friendly' URL is: https://www.<your-domain>.ie/<category>/<product-page>.html;

  • a URL which is canonical or what we have labelled an 'ugly' URL. This means it can be parsed and analysed by search engine 'bots'. An example of an 'ugly' URL is: https://www.<your-domain>.ie/categories.html?filter_set[]=176.

What is the Aphix approach?
Our approach

Aphix recommends that your category tree structure is in line with best practice and standards provided by Google.

We provide two URL types, which work together to provide the best experience for both your customers and the search engine 'bots'. Our 'friendly URLs' provide human-readable product page locations for your customers, while our 'ugly URLs' provide product page locations that search engines can index.

This approach means better search results, especially for product catalogues that have complicated category trees.

Key points

  • Aphix provides two URL types to balance the needs of both customers (who require human-readable URLs) and search engine 'bots' (who require machine-readable URLs).

  • Remember to consider your category structure and URL naming conventions to improve both customer user experience and SEO.

  • This approach is inline with best practice and standards published by Google and other major search engine providers.

Extra external information

Since these are links to external sites, Aphix has no control over their contents.