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I am currently working on an eCommerce website. I am thinking of creating a structure, which would allow the visitor to browse the site by Product Category, Room and Theme.

As such, I would end up creating a structure like the following:

Of course, this is an overly simplistic representation. These are not the actual products neither but serves as a simple example for the purpose of this question.

As you can see, 'Floral Bedside Table Lamp' fits all 3 'Silos'.

URL structure

What would be the implications, with the URL structure, since a Product can only be assigned one URL?

Is this why Product URLs are best to be www.example.com/product/product-name/ rather than www.example.com/product-category/product-name/? Or is it a case that I would need to select a primary silo and canonicalise accordingly?

Internal linking

With this approach, 'Floral Bedside Table Lamp' would be linking to their parent, 'Auntie/Uncle' and cousin pages. The latter not being good practice, when it comes to internal linking. As such, would all links to secondary Silos need to have a rel=nofollow?

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You should never use nofollow on internal links. Nofollow on internal links ends up having unintended consequences. Google has said that using nofollow drops PageRank on the floor never to be used. Testing that I've done confirms this. It is better to use your PageRank than to throw it away with nofollow.

You don't need to ensure that your silos never link to each other. Silos should primarily link to other content within the silo, but occasionally linking to other silos won't hurt.

If a product fits into multiple silos, then you are not implementing silos correctly. If you are really implementing silos you have to choose one and only one silo for each product. The StackExchange subdomains are very heavily segmented into silos. This webmasters silo very rarely links to devops.stackexchange.com. If a question fits both, you have to pick one. A question can be moved from one to the other, but it is never shared between them.

I'm not of the opinion that implementing silos actually helps SEO. I've always preferred to cross link heavily throughout my sites. I'll link to anything else that is relevant, even if it is in distant section.

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    Google has said that using nofollow drops PageRank on the floor never to be used. I have to admit this confuses me. Only because that should not be the case. Much question is why? Other than my confusion, I agree about so-called silos. There is nothing I can think of SE related that allows silos to behave any better or worse than never hearing the term. Topics should be segmented for undiluted results of course. Cross linking makes complete sense. Disciplined organization is a must. What is left? Content. I believe in keeping things simple. Cheers!! – closetnoc May 4 '18 at 16:46
  • I forgot to mention that I personally do not like nofollow and prefer noindex. It makes better sense to me in my limited way of thinking. I guess that may have something to do with any confusion. Still, I cannot think of a good reason why nofollow would either break the PR algorithm or should factor in so harshly as to penalize a site. That does not make sense to me. I do not question your statement. Not at all! It just seems out of odds with the goal of a SE or even Google's Do no evil. – closetnoc May 4 '18 at 16:57
  • @StephenOstermiller ... If you are really implementing silos you have to choose one and only one silo for each product. Are you saying here, that a Product should be limited to just one Product Category? If so, wouldn't this simply reduce user experience, since you are limiting how a user can browse products? In my example's case, allowing a visitor to browse products by; Product Type, Room or Theme rather than having a choice of all 3? – Craig May 4 '18 at 17:07
  • I'm saying that product categories should not be silos. You shouldn't try to limit links between different product categories on your site as you would by implementing true silos. There can be good user experience reasons for segmenting a site into silos, usually having to do with targeting different demographics with different silos. Your product example doesn't fit that because the same set of users are likely to shop in all your product categories. – Stephen Ostermiller May 4 '18 at 17:10
  • @closetnoc I can measure relative PageRank of pages by observing Googlebot crawl rates. I devised an experiment with two sets of pages that linked to each other in similar ways except on set had additional links that used nofollow. Googlebot had a chance to crawl them for a while and we saw how much PR the pages then had based on how often Googlebot returned. Google was telling the truth. The set of pages with the additional nofollow links got crawl far less. – Stephen Ostermiller May 4 '18 at 17:13

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