I've been researching this for a day now, and as usual in the SEO space, there is always a debate and not much certainty.
I understand Shopify places the canonical tag (and thus the primary product page) on:
The personally believe Shopify's selection is correct, however, people tend to debate that the collection URL string offers value depending on the search query.
However, my main concern is whether I change the collection URL path to:
Personally, I believe directly linking to the primary page is always the best practice due to:
However, the argument against this seems to be:
I'm wondering if anyone could provide further insight into the pros, cons or recommendations on whether I should keep Shopify's native URL path OR switch the collection product links to the primary /product/product.name URL.
Really looking forward to your responses!
I mean you've pretty much hit the nail on the head, the most easily available choices tare both non-optimal solutions.
The only work-arounds to all the problems you've listed (that I can think of) are fairly extreme:
Having done some work on larger ecom sites, this problem becomes larger the larger the site, especially where there are multiple categories and sub-categories that collectively have a lot of organic search opportunity for non-brand/generic/category terms.
Because there is no default product category available, and the "root" PDP URL can only exist under products, there is no clear path to creating the kind of SEO optimal information architecture within Shopify.
In a perfect world we could have these URLs as the canonicals:
Each product would need to have an assigned parent category, and the base/canonical/root PDP urls would exist within some kind of definable URL structure logic that may be unique to your website.
Then each product could have breadcrumbs, "see all [sub-category] products" and other ways to flow internal link equity towards categories.
But on all the Shopify sites I work on, I actually just set the domain/products/product-slug as the PLP url so that the internal link equity properly collects at a single URL with no linking-to-canonicals to confuse things. I've seen several situations where canonicals start to rank the page it's canonicalised to, so Google just seems to ignore the kind of blatantly-broken canonicalisation issues that Shopify has by default.
Re the PDP pagination - my gut is that the UX pattern is not really established enough, hardly anyone clicks "next/prev" product. There are still easy ways to introduce "related products" links to a similar effect in terms of internal links in Shopify.
Appreciate the detailed response Kieran (this is my first time posting).
The solutions are certainly extreme, given the insignificance of URL path as a ranking factor.
I've experienced a store where there were 2 - 3 collections for SEO expansion and that obviously duplicated things exponentially. Fortunately, my current client doesn't have this problem.
Based on your perfect world scenario, it seems that if you HAD to choose between the 2, the best canonical PDP of the 2 would be:
I feel like if I made sure collections weren't created unnecessarily (reduce duplicated content) and made sure Google and Facebook's feed used the above URL path, all the 'juice' would be going there and become effective?
I would have thought directing collection page product's to Shopify's native canonical PDP would have been the simplest solution), but due to the perfect world URL path, this seems conflicting.