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I am working on commerce site and we are facing a dilemma that has to do with SEO on product page: if sub-category links should be visible or not in each product page. In detail: We own 8 top categories with lots subcategories in each one and each sub-category owns multiple products. So, my question is: Should the menu of subcategories be visible as they appear in each top category & subcategory or since a product page is supposed to be focused on the product, should the menu be removed?

Checking Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and other big commerce sites, they only use the path (breadcrumbs) and they do not show the other subcategories in product pages.

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Thank you for your help, i completed the update where i removed subcategories from the product pages and added more emphasis to Breadcrumbs (schema.org included) & to conversion button. After some research its pretty clear that the main target of a product page is focused on product & on its conversion. We want our visitors move from product pages to conversions and not to other subcategories. –  HaCos Mar 6 '13 at 10:48
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3 Answers

In my experience in Designing eCommerce websites is that my clients like to keep things simple. While including Subcategories may be more idea for power users (Those who are very good with the net) generally to much on the page confuses your audience/visitors.

As a conversion stand point its better to have less, but more on the page if you know what I mean. Focus on the quality.

As a SEO stand point if you want more JUICE going to the main categories then hiding the subcategories works best. Deeper links tend to get less JUICE while the main products and categories will have more juice flowing to them since they are linked more on each page. By including all sub categories your flowing your juice evenly to the main, and sub categories.

A simple search within Google can tell you about PR Juice flow and how it can help but please don't use NOFOLLOW on subs to create the flow that you want as this is now considered BAD SEO :P

in Short, Main > Then Secondary, and then 3rd Categories if available. :)

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So since we want more Juice staying at product pages where conversion button are, we should remove subcategories from product pages. But we are changing the internal link building, ranking to different pages & keywords may change as well? –  HaCos Jan 9 '13 at 0:33
    
@HaCos You definitely don't want to remove the ability to navigate to subcategories from product pages (see my answer below). Also, review your top landing pages before you decide which pages you want "juice" being passed to. More often than not the category pages are the most frequent landing page for more generic terms. For example, you'd want people searching for [sneakers] to find your category page, but you'd want people searching for [green brand running sneakers] to find your product page. But there will always be more people searching for [sneakers] than [green brand running sneakers]. –  nathangiesbrecht Feb 10 '13 at 23:31
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As an SEO question, the answer is clear: more links between the pages of your site is a good thing. They help customers and bots get around your site, increase the number of links pointing to pages, etc.

There's no need to deprive sub-category pages of value in an attempt to improve the performance of product pages. If your page content is properly optimised, categories and products shouldn't be directly competing with each other anyway.

But it's not just an SEO question, it's about user experience. Do your users find it easier to get around your site if sub-category links are available on the product pages?

If you don't know, consider running some tests using page designs with and without the links in question. Using your analytics software, compare behaviour patterns between the two types.

My hunch is that they'd do more good than harm. A product page should indeed be focussed on the product, but removing a means for users to navigate to other pages of your site won't in itself provide that focus. What it almost certainly will do is piss off users who find the resulting navigation awkward.

Breadcrumbs would help, but only if the user wants to move up – not across. And remember, full category and sub-category navigation can be tucked away in a drop-down menu.

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Breadcrumbs are awesome, especially if you mark them up properly with RDFa metadata (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=185417). They make it very easy for Google (and other bots) to understand your category structure, and when marked up properly Google will give you a very nice category structure in the SERPs in place of the full URL.

That said, from a user experience and conversion optimization standpoint, I'd suggest going with only showing your top-level (parents) categories, and the same-level (siblings) categories. From a user experience point of view, the closest related categories are the ones the user is mostly likely to want to navigate to. From a SEO point of view, the closest related categories are also the ones that you'll want to pass link-juice to.

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