Today’s “Ask SEO” question comes from Cassidy of San Diego, who asks:
“Is it better or worse for SEO to have a product page to support multiple products within the same family (products with different functions and each model with color variations)? You could call it a size difference, but it’s more electronics than clothing, so the “size” has additional functional advantages. “
Great question, Cassidy! And that happens more often than you might think.
There are two issues here that have to do with individual products versus product categories.
Let’s look at the SEO impact by using t-shirts as our example product.
Use a single product page and canonical links when:
- Buyers do not need individual variant pages such as size, material and color;
- And for the end consumer there is no real benefit for the respective variant, since he still has to act (e.g. the customer would have to choose size or color anyway).
If your store has a t-shirt and no more, you should have a product page and canonical links to refer back to it.
The canonical links are applied to all variants and parameters.
Sizes, in almost all cases, do not have enough uniqueness to warrant individual product pages.
Colors, however, can. Maybe someone just wants to see red baseball t-shirts or black crew-neck t-shirts.
You only stock one product, but having a separate page for each color is beneficial to the end user and you can describe print options, styling options, and contrast / blending options based on the color.
Then all the size variations would have a canonical back to the original color option.
There are exceptions to the rule, especially if you have a signature product that has gotten a lot of press coverage about certain color options.
Consider a brand like Tesla with a new door design option but on the same vehicle.
You could create a canonical link from the variant and both vehicles could be on the same page. But because it’s iconic and naturally featured in the press, it can be worth having a page of its own.
McDonald’s McRib, Apple’s iPhone, and other signature products can get away with it.
The last thing to check is that this is the final version of the product.
If you are never going to maintain, make, update, or publish new versions, then and only then will you want to try optimizing unique pages for variation.
If you choose to go this route, you need to build a solid site structure and optimize your copy so that it is 100% unique for each version.
Use a unique category page for each of the variants if:
- The product is part of a category – like a V-neck t-shirt that you also wear crew neck and sleeveless – and you plan to expand the line so that you have ten or twenty color options at a time;
- And each of the variants has at least 1,000 searches per month (if it’s a big ticket item with only 200 searches per month, this might be justified too).
If you are starting to create custom color pages for each product in the category, now you’ll need to do the same for each similar product as you add it.
This creates a huge amount of similar content and a potential cannibalization problem.
By creating a category page instead, you can further expand your product lines and feed in similar product pages instead of having unique product pages for each version of each product in the collection.
There will always be exceptions, so use your best judgment when deciding on unique product pages or setting canonical values for all variants.
As a rule of thumb for me: If the consumer doesn’t need individual variant pages and has no real benefit to the end user, use a single page and apply canonical links to the variants.
Great question and I hope my answer helps!
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