SEO considerations for using configurable and simple products in Magento

One of the questions that I get asked most about Magento SEO is how the relationship between a configurable product and simple variants of that product should be managed from an SEO perspective – so I decided to write a blog post about it.

Configurable products are used in Magento to allow merchants to offer users configuration options for the products in their catalog, such as colour, size, design or any other variable. This type of product is used by most Magento merchants because they help to provide a good, clean user experience and they’re easy to manage.

The problem arises when a merchant decides to use a configurable product as well as simple variants for a single product. This most commonly happens because the retailer wants to display the simple variants via product list pages (so they can merchandise better or make it easier for the user to reach the pre-defined version) or they want the different versions for PLA / Google Shopping or other paid advertising channels.

If you’re doing this, it’s important to ensure that the canonical tag used on each of the simple products points back to the primary configurable version – to prevent duplicate variants of the product from being indexed by Google and other search engines.

I’d suggest that you either use a plugin (or build the functionality) to allow you to set page-level canonical tags (which would be quite tricky to manage) or try and create a canonical logic based on the product SKU (which is what I’ve seen merchants do in the past). Even if you’re adding unique identifiers to the product SKU (appending 01 for size for example), you should still be able to set the canonical logic based on that. This isn’t an easy fix, however it’s something I’d definitely suggest doing to avoid both cannobolisation and over-indexation issues.

If you have any questions about this – feel free to get in touch with me here. You can also read my definitive guide to Magento SEO or find out more about the Magento SEO audits I provide.

Paul Rogers

Paul is an experienced eCommerce Consultant, specialising in all aspects of replatforming, requirements gathering and platform selection projects.

Paul has worked with most mainstream eCommerce platforms and has supported complex replatforming projects with retailers from all over the world. Paul also works on customer experience projects and solutions-focused work with various platforms - primarily Magento and Shopify Plus.

5 thoughts on “SEO considerations for using configurable and simple products in Magento

  1. Hi Mark – I can’t find one, but it’s really common.

    I worked with a golf retailer who had Nike x golf balls in different colours and they had the configurable version and the simple variants displaying in categories as separate products (with same content etc). I’ve had the same thing recently with a Demandware retailer – but with the sizing and colours of clothing.

    Does that make sense?

    Paul

  2. Hi Paul,

    Great topic and i think for SEO purpose configurable product is better than multiple single product and it will reduce the duplicate content. As customer if he visit one page and he needs to visit another 3/4 page to find the right color and right size it won’t give a good impression to the visitors and most of the case they will leave the site. But if it used configurable products like http://www.bdshop.com/maternity-nursing-bra-in-bd they can easily choose the size and the color as they required at the same page. Hope it will help others and thanks Paul for your good work.

    Regards,
    Zakir Hosen

  3. Thanks for the post, Paul. I’ve been trying to solve this problem for a long time. Right now I’ve got one category using configurable products (https://www.electricalmarketplace.com/exit-and-emergency-lighting/emergency-lights.html).
    As I understand it, this creates a separate simple product for each variation, some of my products have a few hundred permutations, so this means a few hundred simple products for each parent product. Creating each simple product is a task on its own, but the other issue is that each simple product will essentially be a duplicate of the original parent product. The content will be pretty much the same. Doesn’t this cause SEO issues?

    1. Yes – if you have lots of close variants with the same content. I’d suggest getting your developer to create a canonical logic to set the configurable version as the primary. As long as they’re the same / very similar this has worked for me.

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