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I am working on an eCommerce site, where I am considering creating a Child Category page. This Child Category page, would be for a colour variant, of the products within the Parent Category. For example:

  1. Parent Category: www.example.com/soccer-balls
  2. Child Category: www.example.com/soccer-balls/red

My thinking being, this would help target keywords, containing the colour variant.

On one hand ...

... I feel this would produce a positive SEO return. After all, I am seeking to further align a landing page to a specific search query; in this case, based on colour.

On the other hand ...

... could I be diluting my SEO efforts? My thoughts here, being that the above efforts may end up splitting important SEO metrics. Metrics, such as:

  • Back links
  • Social Shares
  • Click Through Rates (CTR)

Short Term v Long Term

Pushed for an answer, I believe that I may suffer some short term loss of traffic. I say this, as colour variant Back links start to point to their allocated colour variant product category URLs. As such, causing the Parent Category to miss out on the cumulative 'votes'. As time progresses, the colour variant URLs would then start to climb the ranks and 'pick up' the back link votes, so to speak, where the Parent Category has been dropping them.

Would this be the right view to take on the matter? Has anyone had a similar experience and have any statistics to back up such a thought?

Conflicting Scenario

I have noticed that some websites, do not adopt my above efforts. Despite this, still rank for colour based search queries. For example, a site may have a Category page, full of Soccer Balls. The 'Soccer Balls' will range in colour, size and material. Then the site would rank for 'Red Soccer Balls' for example.

Despite the landing page covering all Soccer Balls, the Meta Description has been dynamically called from one of the listed 'Red Soccer Balls' and displayed in the search results. You then change the search query to 'Blue Soccer Balls' and the same landing page appears, in the search results, but with the Meta Description for one of the blue Soccer Balls.

I understand that search engines are able to override an assigned Meta Description, if it feels a different one is more aligned to the search query. What I am uncertain of, is how is this landing page, ranking for duplicate colour based search queries? Often, performing better than sites who have colour specific landing pages.

Is it a case that they are performing well enough at domain level, which compensates for a weaker page level SEO strategy or is it a case that they have decided to consolidate all the colour variants into one page. As such, concentrating all back links etc, into one page rather than spread across multiple pages?

Facets

If consolidating SEO efforts, into one page, is the way to go, then would it be better to rely on Facets for colour etc, rather than Child Categories? Personally, I do not see how this can be a better way to match search query's intent but maybe I am overlooking something.

  • Color, sizes, and the like are often found within the add to cart form within the content. This is enough generally. – closetnoc Jun 15 '18 at 20:34
  • @closetnoc: This is enough generally ... I was thinking about having a drop down menu for 'Colour' and 'Size' variations etc, on the Product pages themselves. Is this really enough though? Using my example, lets say someone did search for 'Red Soccer Balls', surely a Product Category page, presenting all Red Soccer Balls, would be more useful than taking an assumption and getting one 'Red Soccer Ball' Single Product page to appear in the SERPs? Also, wouldn't a dedicated Product Category benefit from the collective internal back links too, or have I got that wrong? – Craig Jun 15 '18 at 22:22
  • I will let some of our e-commerce experts answer, however, since the very first days Google knows how extract common characteristics of a product such a size and color from a form. This is a strong clue for Google. Keep in mind, that for some types of content, there are special filters that are designed to extract specific information if found. Typical of these can be the content author. The need for these filters have not gone away even with mark-up. They work as they always have and fill a triples styled index separate from any content index. – closetnoc Jun 16 '18 at 0:19
  • In fact, you may not need to mention the color at all. You are back on the notion that you have to tell Google what is important with keywords. There is nothing further from the truth. For example, if AMG brand widget is known to come in certain colors, this will very likely exist in a fact link database allowing any searches for a red AMG widget to match any site that sell an AMG widget. You ask if it is enough to have the color in a drop-down. Yes. But it may not even be necessary to be found in search for the color red. – closetnoc Jun 16 '18 at 0:34
  • @closetnoc: there are special filters ... Are you referring to filters that can be placed into websites or some feature(s) which search engines use? – Craig Jun 16 '18 at 15:10
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In answer to your initial question, No not really. Those metrics you mention have effects across the entire domain, worrying about diluting certain pages because of others you don't need to worry about. Just ensure you have internal linking that goes from the main cats, to sub cats, and vice versa.

To answer some of your other points:

You have given an example of a generic page ranking for colour variations, and yes it can happen for the reasons you mention in your question and in the comments.

However there are many other examples where searching for a specific term will result in websites ranking highest where they have a page for that specific term.

In fact If I use your example 'red soccer balls' or 'red footballs', what do I see ranking position 1? That's right a page for red footballs.

So I'm going to disagree with most of the comments on the question. If you really want to be competitive for keywords, you need a page for that keyword.

I'm not talking doorway pages where you create a page for every different variation under the sun for the same terms (phone, phones, mobilephone, mobilephones, cellphone, etc), but if you have a product, or service that is unique why not have a page that can be used as page for SEO? After all, if you have created a facet with that option, you have created a page for a user! (just probably not an SEO friendly one!)

So yes, create pages for terms you believe bring value to the user, maybe that have lot of demand, both internally or externally and implemented them in a way which make sense for UX.

Facets might be a better way to do variations rather than sub cats, but that can depend on how big your site is, how many products you have (e.g a shop selling just footballs might be better to have a sub cat for colours, where as a site with a big varied assortment like Amazon would be better as a facet, or attributes)

So either implementing facets or sub cats can be correct, but just create them in a way that creates an individual page that can be uniquely optimised, rather than say just using URL parameters that filter the same URL.

  • Internal linking that goes from the main cats, to sub cats, and vice versa ... Let's assume I have a Televisions Parent Category and a Red Televisions Child Category. Are you saying both Categories would potentially rank for search queries, such as Television Offers and New Televisions. Televisions then typically ranking higher for broader short tail Television terms, since it benefits from the accumulation of the back links generated from all its Child Categories? Red Televisions, Blue Televisions and Large Televisions etc. (1/3) – Craig Jun 19 '18 at 18:08
  • As for the Red Televisions Child Category, are you then saying this Category would then likely rank higher than the Parent Category, for search queries including the colour variant Red. The reason being that whilst the Child Category has a weaker back link profile than the Parent Category, it is more relevant. Therefore, it ranks higher than its Parent Category? (2/3) – Craig Jun 19 '18 at 18:09
  • As far as competing with other websites, are you then saying that the Child Category benefits from the collective back link profile of its Parent Category? Therefore, a search engine saying 'Its Parent Category is an authority in Televisions. We will duplicate some of that authority (Often being referred to as 'Link Juice'), over to the Child Category, as to give it a bit of a competitive boost'? Of course, my interpretations assuming all other SEO factors are ticked. (3/3) – Craig Jun 19 '18 at 18:09
  • Generally yes for all questions. It's all about the relevance of the pages and also about the flow of authority through the site, that's why you need good linking between the the pages. – Max Jun 20 '18 at 17:01
  • Great. Thanks for your answer and further clarification. – Craig Jun 20 '18 at 17:05

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