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Product Variant Landing Pages

10:44 am on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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We are moving our back office system which had every variation of item listed under it's own code, to one that supports product variants.

This will reduce our current inventory from over 65,000 items by at least half I should think.

However although this will be great for customers, we are worried about the impact on search engine results.

So we might list a Widget that comes in 10mm, 15mm and 20mm. It might also come in Chrome and Stainless. When a customer searches for it they will know what they want and so will punch in "10mm Chrome Widget" into Google (other SE's are available... :) ).

Our on site search works fine, but without a natural landing page how will the SEs know we carry the specific items?

I guess I can create individual product landing pages for each variant, but then there will be zero internal links (save perhaps our own sitemap) so will the SEs even rank them? Also what about dupe content etc - the page titles etc can be different but we'd only have one item description to share amongst all variants etc.

The site is completely developed in house so we have the flexibility to do anything, but I guess not the knowledge of what other off the off the peg ones might do to solve this.
11:43 am on Sept 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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how will the SEs know we carry the specific items?

In general, the SE won't know anything that's not contained in the product description.

However, I think your concern about the lack of specific landing pages for each variant might actually be beneficial to customers. Who wants to wade thru 65,000 product pages to find a 10mm Chrome Widget?

Your product taxonomy should really not exceed 20 top-level categories, or about 100 categories in total. Within each category, any items "below the fold" get lost, so I try to limit a category to 100 items. That equates to about 10k products per "store".

Right now, with 65k landing pages, you have too many opportunities for a customer to "get lost". By combining variants into a single landing page, you're making it easier for the customer to find that "Chrome Widget", then it's easy to see the 10mm variant among other variants.

With less landing pages, you also concentrate inbound links onto fewer pages, which should help your ranking over time.

If you also sell on eBay, you could have a problem with multiple variants, as eBay forces multiple variants to have the same shipping weight. eBay also displays the cost of the lowest-cost variant (not the first variant) which could be problematic.
11:52 am on Sept 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for that.

Yes we are agreed that it will be a much better experience for the customer.

However the widgets we sell can be very specific so you'd start your search on the SEs with the size you were looking for in a lot of cases - a 10mm version of something would be used for very different tasks than a 100mm one - could be different industries - and even the difference between professional and hobby users.

So if we just had a page that was for the "Widget" and the selection of "Chrome" and "10mm" was within a couple of drop down boxes, along with many other values how likely is it that we'd never show for the specific searches on Google etc?

Some of our products have up to 3 categories of variation (size / colour / material for example) and can have 50 or so variations.

From a customer who is browsing point of view we always want them to hit the main Widget page and make their selections.

From an SEO point of view though this might be suicidal?

I'd thought of having a table somewhere on the page detailing all the variations so the text is within the page but again that might look a bit spammy to be SE and user.

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