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How Does Layered Navigation Work in Magento?

The quicker customers can find products on your Magento ecommerce store, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Throw hundreds of products at them, across multiple pages and they’ll be clicking off your site and going to one of your competitors in a matter of seconds.

This is why when it comes to configuring your Magento store, we highly recommend building layered navigation. Allowing customers to filter your products by what interests them is a great way to meet their needs and in turn, boost your conversion rates.

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The ASOS website provides a great example of layered navigation. A long the left hand side you can filter products by both categories and attributions including style, brand, colour and price range.

Automatic filters for layered navigation

When looking into layered navigation, you will find that Magento has automatically set up two filters. The first is ‘price’ and the second is ‘categories.’ This basically means that your customers will already be able to view products by price or by their category e.g. ‘men’s clothing.’ 

Category filter

Adding layered navigations to these pre-made filters will involve creating anchor categories and sub categories. For example if you made ‘men’s clothing’ an anchor category, sub categories such as ‘shirts’ ‘jeans’ and ‘coats’ can be displayed as layered navigation options that narrow down the product selection and make it easier for customers to locate the item they are looking for.

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Allowing your customers to filter your products by category will make it much easier for them to find what they’re looking for. 

Price range filter

Magento has already intuitively set up a price filter with layered navigation for you to use. Price ranges will automatically display; determined by the price of the products you have added to your inventory. For example ‘£10.00 – £20.00,’ ‘£20.00 – £30.00’ and ‘£30.00 – £40.00.’ Allowing users to shop by their budget will improve the user experience of your ecommerce site and encourage customers to make purchases.

Creating product attributes

You can create additional layered navigation for your Magento website by setting up new product attributes. To do this go to Catalog > Attributes > Manage. From there you will be able to set up a new attribute e.g. ‘Colour.’ Where it says ‘Use in Navigation’ set it to ‘Filterable (with results).’

Something else you will need to do is select the attribute filter display type. Choose from:

Default (standard layered navigation)

Dropdown box

Checkbox, image 

Input (only for decimal attributes)

Slider (only for decimal attributes like price)

Info text. 

You can then create the different options for your attribute e.g. ‘Yellow,’ ‘Black,’ ‘Red.’ 

When it comes to uploading a new product to your inventory, you will be able to select the appropriate product attributes for layered navigation. This means that your customers will be able to filter your products by colour. 

There are many different product attributes you can create, depending on the types of products you are selling. For example, if you are selling men’s clothing, attributes could include ‘colour,’ ‘size’ and ‘material.’

Remember that when you make any changes in your Magento admin panel, you always need to press the save button !

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Here you can see Carphone Warehouse has used layered navigation so customers can choose their mobile phone by colour e.g. pink.

Layered navigation plugins

If you want to further enhance your Magento ecommerce store’s layered navigation options, you may want to consider installing an extension from the Magento Connect store. There is a wide range of layered navigation extensions available for Magento, with two of the most popular being Sidebar Navigation Menu Professional and Ajax Pagination and Sorting. There are also extensions designed to speed up Magento sites using layered navigation (known to slow page loading times down) including Nitrogento.

Preventing SEO problems associated with layered navigation

Whilst layered navigation is great from a customer perspective, it has the potential to hinder your SEO efforts. Firstly it makes it more difficult for search engines to crawl your pages and secondly there can be duplicate content issues.

The best way to prevent SEO issues with Magento’s layered navigation is to use the Rel=Canonical tag on filters and layered navigation pages. This will ensure search engines are pointed to the original source of content and do not count the products featured in various different categories as duplicate content. We talk more about Canonical links on the link to Optimising Magento with SEO page.

You can also prevent SEO problems by editing your site’s Robotos.txt file so that search engines do not index the content on layered navigation pages. We only recommend doing this if you are sure of how to do it! If not, seek professional help!

Is layered navigation essential?

If you only have a few products listed in your Magento catalogue and therefore only have a page or two for customers to look through, layered navigation probably isn’t a necessity for you. However for Magento stores with pages and pages of products, layered navigation is a must-have. 

Improving user experience

Creating layered navigation with categories and product attributes will make it easier and quicker for customers to locate the product they are looking for. Product filtering plays a significant part in the overall user experience provided by your ecommerce website and the better user experience you can provide, the more likely customers are to buy your products and return to make purchases in the future.

SEO benefits

Improving the navigation of your website using layered navigation can also contribute towards your Magento site’s SEO. This is due to the fact that offering product filtering is likely to result in a lower bounce rate. A low bounce rate signals to Google and other search engines that your site offers a good user experience as users are spending a significant amount of time on your website. 

We all know just how important creating a good user experience is in achieving higher rankings in relevant searches. The higher you rank, the more traffic you will have visiting your site, giving you a better chance at increasing sales and conversion rates.

Conclusion

When it comes to setting up layered navigation for your ecommerce website, Magento makes it very straightforward. However if you are new to Magento and require a little assistance, you can always get in touch with our friendly team of Magento experts. We can either set up layered navigation on your behalf or teach you how to set up categories and product attributes so you can add more in the future.

Here at Online Media Direct, we are all about helping our customers get the most out of the Magento platform. For more information on layered navigation call us on 01706 830 965.

Image credits: mj0310, mj0310 & mj0310

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