URL SEO Issues When Removing Products, Renaming Collections URLs

Tourist
7 0 1

We're facing some issue with Shopify's Collection URLs and maybe others have faced the same or can enlighten us on possible solutions.

For us, Shopify creates at least 3 versions of the product URL -- one being the product URL itself and the other 2 (or 3, 4+) are the Collections URLs the product has been tagged/assigned to. Example:

products/blue-widget
collections/all/products/blue-widget
collections/motorized/products/blue-widget
collections/non-motorized/products/blue-widget

I could have plenty more URLs depending on the total amount of Collection types the product is assigned or belongs to.

Note: I realize that canonicals are in place for Collections/[some-cat/blue-widget] created URLs and that they point to the shortened product URL. But I don't feel the canonical method is all that great or foolproof. Let me explain...

Back in March 2017, Gary Illyes from Google said:

"rel-canonical is a hint, not a directive"

and

"[rel-canonical is] a very strong hint but may still be outweighed by other signals"

Over the past several days I've noticed a growing number of 404s occuring in our Google Search Console, many of which were some derivative of Collections/[some-cat/blue-widget]. The cause? We recently performed a Shopify site migration to another theme, where we also renamed some Collections pages, added other new ones, removed others, or we removed products altogether. The main issues I've noticed so far include:

  1. Redirections issue: The Collections URLs create numerous variations of the same product in various long-form Collections/[some-cat/some-product] URLs that cannot all get efficiently redirected or removed, if needed.
  2. External backlinks issue: Backlinks from external websites pointing to long-form Collections/[some-cat/blue-widget] URLs create confusion, especially when removing or renaming a product or Collection. In the bolded URLs examples above I could feasably have backlinks to all of those 3 Collections URL variations and to my product URL. When I remove or rename my Shopify product, those external backlinks get broken, subverted, or do not pass value unless I capture and redirect all Collections/[some-cat/blue-widget] URL variations to another location. Even if done, it's not optimal.
  3. Internal linking issues: Let's say, over time, we link from anywhere within the website to any of the multiple Collections/[some-cat/blue-widget] URLs variations, we then have to update them all manually which creates an internal link-correcting headache -- as any of the multiple linked Collections/[some-cat/blue-widget] URLs now needs to be found, updated, or removed.
  4. Rel-canonical isn't foolproof: The reason above from Google and I've logged some instances where canonical URLs cause indexation issues.

These are just the few issues off the top of my head. I'm sure there are others.

My questions:

  1. Are Collections pages that include the product "tag" really needed for "front-facing" URLs that can easily get indexed?
  2. Why not simply use a faceted search method where Collections tagged/assigned product URLs do not get indexed at all, either with META Noindex or similar.
  3. Is it as simple as simply changing the internally created Collections/[some-cat/blue-widget] URL to point directly to the actual product URL and fore go all of the multitudes of Collections/[some-cat/blue-widget] URls that get created.

Am I missing something, maybe an app, that can fix this issue? I'm fine with modifying theme code.

Thanks in advance!

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Tourist
7 0 1

I realize the post above was lengthy but was really hoping someone could provide a bit of input.

Thank you again,

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Tourist
7 0 1

I'll have to say that I'm kind of shocked at the lack of responses to this thread. I've outlined a critical SEO issue and can back it up with hard data from backlinks, Analytics, etc. to show the Collections/* product URLs are not the way to go with Shopify, even with the canonicals.

I assume we'll need to find our own solution here since there seems to be a lack of support or concern.

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New Member
8 0 0

I recently changed the product.url code in my collection templates to point to the non-collection url to avoid all of the issues you mentioned in your original post.  I have reviewed a number of the most successful ecommerce sites and none of them used linking that included a collection in the product page urls.  I have no idea why it seems to be the default in Shopify themes.

It is way too soon for me to say whether it will have an impact on SEO for my site but it certianly makes it much easier to modify things without having to worry about breaking tons of links to products.

 

Good Luck!

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Excursionist
33 0 1

Hi

 

Do either of you have any update re this?

 

is this still an issue or now resolved (either via shopify action or your own mentioned) ?

 

I'm redeveloping my very old and out of date store in Shopify and want to get my techinal seo as perfect as possible in advance before going live and then migrating (since that's going to be such a technical headache in itself i want its Shopify replacement to be as technically seo perfect as is possible).

 

All Best

Dan

 

 

Dan Lawrence https://DigitalNomad.Global
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If you have some liquid knowledge, you can update references in your theme to use just the /products/ URL instead of the /collections/.../products/... URLs.

 

You may see instances like: 

<a href="{{ product.url | within: collection }}">

Use something like:

<a href="{{ product.url }}">
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Excursionist
33 0 1

Ok thanks Joshua

 

I dont but see your an expert how much would you charge for setting that up for me ?

 

Also SHopify support have again replied saying its not a problem, since they canonicalise, but it is isnt it ?

 

All Best

Dan

 

Dan Lawrence https://DigitalNomad.Global
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Tourist
8 0 3

@WeeFounder did you find that this worked long term for SEO improvement?

 

I have been discussing this issue and I am of the opinion that whilst the Cananoical doesn't cause an issue because the original product from www.site.com/product/name is shown on the search engine the issue comes in all the wasted internal link equity that you could be getting from all of the other collection pages on the site?

 

@Josh_Uebergang Thanks for the advice on how to adjust this. Where do you stand on the wasted internal link equity? Am I onto something or running down a blind alley? I have downloaded your guide too and begun reading. Interesting so far thanks.

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Highlighted
Tourist
3 0 0

I haven't launched my Shopify site yet but one of the things I did was change the code so that product URLs are always /products/product-name rather than include the /collections/ as some products belong to up to half a dozen collections

 

I did think about the fact that external links people create to products on my site would likely contain different collection URLs and this would eliminate that problem

 

It also makes the URL look much shorter and cleaner

 

However some might make the case that google would give more credibility and rank higher a URL that contains the collection ? My product titles are however, very descriptive and complete. This is a migration from a wordpress/woocommerce store, which does not have the issue of duplicate product URLs due to collections. Forcing all of the product URLs to be /products/product-name gets the closest to a 1:1 match of the original site which has some highly ranking keywords.

 

I also no-indexed all of the tag pages

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