What is Faceted Search? A Guide to Faceted Filtering


When you’re shopping online, have you ever found yourself endlessly scrolling through pages and pages of search results, unable to find exactly what you’re looking for? 

It’s frustrating, right? 

That’s where faceted search comes in. It’s like having a personal shopping assistant to guide you to the perfect product.

Imagine you’re walking into a really well-organized department store. 

Each section is labeled clearly, and items are grouped by similar attributes like size, color, and style. 

It’s easy to find what you’re looking for, right? That’s what faceted search is like!

With faceted search on an eCommerce website, you can have that same experience online. 

You can quickly filter your search based on specific attributes that matter most to you, like price, color, brand, or material.

And that’s important, not only for you as a shopper but also for eCommerce businesses. 

With eCommerce faceted search, businesses can offer a better customer experience, leading to increased customer satisfaction and higher conversion rates. 

So, in this blog, we’ll take a closer look at faceted searching, exploring how it works, why it matters, and how businesses can implement it effectively on their websites.

Let’s get to it!

👉 What is Faceted Search?


Faceted search, also known as faceted navigation, is a powerful tool that allows you to narrow down your search results based on specific attributes, such as size, color, price, and more. 

It’s like having a set of eCommerce filters that lets you quickly weed out irrelevant results and focus on the products that best match your needs.

👉 What is Multi-Faceted Search?


Multi-faceted search is an extension of faceted searching that allows you to refine your search results based on multiple facets or categories simultaneously.

For example, let’s say you’re shopping for a dress online and you’re looking for something specific, like a red dress with a high neckline and long sleeves. 

With multi-faceted search, you can refine your search results based on all of those attributes at once, rather than having to search for each attribute one at a time.

Multi-faceted search can be really helpful when you’re looking for something very specific because it allows you to narrow down your search results quickly and efficiently. 

👉 Facets vs Filters


When you search for something on a website, you might notice there are different categories or characteristics you can use to refine your search, like color, size, brand, and so on. 

These categories are called facets

They help you narrow down your search results and find what you’re looking for more quickly.

Now, filters are the actual tools you use to apply those facets to your search results. 

For example, if you’re searching for shoes and you want to narrow down the results to just running shoes, you would use a filter to do that. 

Filters are adjustable, so you can refine your search results as you go, depending on what you’re looking for.

So, facets are the pre-defined categories that help you narrow down your search results, while filters are the actual buttons or tools you use to apply those categories to your search. 

Both are important for refining your search results and finding what you need on a website.

👉 How Does Faceted Filtering Work?

When you search for something on a website that uses faceted search, you’ll usually see a list of categories or facets that you can use to refine your search. 

These facets might include things like price, color, size, brand, and more.

Once you’ve selected one or more facets, the website will automatically filter your search results to show only items that match those facets. 

So, for example, if you’re searching for shoes and you select the color red and the brand Nike, the website will show you only red Nike shoes.

Faceted searching is really useful because instead of scrolling through pages and pages of irrelevant search results, you can use facets to filter out the things you don’t want and focus on the things you do.

What are the benefits of having search facets in your eCommerce?

Thanks to these filters, your customers can intuitively and quickly get to the product they want. And navigability, as you know, is one of the elements that can help improve user experience.

✅ Better web positioning

If that person has no difficulty in finding what they are looking for, they will spend more time on your website. This translates into a lower bounce rate (users that leave the web without clicking once) and better SEO positioning.

Increased conversions

Obviously, the more comfortable a user is on your web, the more likely it is for them to end up buying.

To summarize: search filters = happier customers = more sales. 😉

👉How can eCommerce faceted search help your customers?


✅ Saves time

Faceted search allows customers to quickly filter out irrelevant search results and focus on the products they’re interested in. This saves time and helps customers find what they’re looking for more efficiently.

✅ Helps customers make informed purchase decisions

Faceted search provides customers with a range of facets to compare different products based on attributes like price, size, color, and more. This helps customers make more informed choices about the products they’re interested in.

✅ Increases customer confidence in their purchase decisions

By giving customers the tools they need to make informed choices about the products they’re interested in, eCommerce faceted search can increase customer confidence in their purchase decisions. This can lead to greater customer satisfaction and repeat business.

✅ Provides a better shopping experience overall

Faceted searching makes it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for and feel confident in their purchase decisions. This provides a better shopping experience overall and can lead to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.

✅ Can lead to increased sales and customer satisfaction

By providing customers with a more efficient and effective way to shop on your website, faceted search can lead to increased sales and customer satisfaction. Customers are more likely to make a purchase and return to your website in the future if they have a positive shopping experience.

👉 4 Faceted Search Examples for eCommerce

✅ Fashion Industry 

An online clothing store could use faceted search to allow customers to filter products by size, color, style, material, and more, making it easier for them to find the clothing items they’re looking for.

✅ Food Industry

An online grocery store could use faceted search to allow customers to filter products by category (e.g. fruits and vegetables, dairy products, bakery items, etc.), brand, price range, and more, helping them find the products they need quickly and easily.

✅ Beauty Industry

The beauty industry can offer dynamic faceted search examples with their wide variety of products and specifications. A beauty retailer could use faceted search to allow customers to filter products by category (e.g. makeup, skincare, haircare, etc.), brand, price range, and more, helping them find the beauty products they need to look and feel their best.

✅ Toy Industry

Another great faceted search example are the search facets that could be implemented into an online toy store. A toy retailer could use faceted search to allow customers to filter products by age range, category (e.g. action figures, puzzles, board games, etc.), brand, price range, and more, helping them find the toys that are appropriate for their child’s age and interests.

👉 Faceted Search best practices


Surely, you’re now asking yourself this:

“This looks great, but how do I set my eCommerce’s faceted search for it to be useful for my clients?”

Here are a few ideas.

✅ 1. How many faceted filters should I add?

This tends to be the first doubt that comes to mind.

What happens most of the time is that by adding as many filters as possible, we believe we’re helping the user but, in reality, we’re doing the opposite.

We provide them with so many options they get stuck.

Instead of offering them 20 different options, it’s better to only include 4 or 5 search facets that you actually know will be relevant for their search.

So how can you know which are those 4 or 5 perfect options?

That takes us to our next point.

✅ 2. Find the most relevant facets for your audience

This will vary significantly based on your buyer persona profile.

For example, let’s say you sell shoes. A person looking for shoes for kids has very different needs from a person looking for casual shoes.  

The former would rather filter their search by age or size while the latter would find it more useful to choose shoes from a specific category “cocktail shoes”, “heels”, “pumps”, etc.

Here are some ideas that will serve as a reference.

➡️ A. Basic facets

These ones pop up practically across every sector with slight differences.

Here we’d add:

  • Brand.
  • Category.
  • Color.
  • Price.
  • Size (for clothing items).

Only by using these search facets, your customers will be able to narrow down their search.

But we can still take it a step further.

➡️ B. Themed facets

Let’s suppose you own a fashion eCommerce.

It’s summer and you just got a shipment with this season’s collection of dresses. Something your customers are surely interested in.

So, you can create a “Summer 2022 collection” search facet, for instance.

Or, if you have unsold stock from the previous collection and want to get rid of it as soon as possible, you create a facet called “last items” or “Spring collection final sale”.

Ultimately, it’s ideal to think about the products your customers would be most interested in at a particular time.

✅ 3. Speak your customers’ language

We always say it’s very important to know everything about your ideal customer.

That includes the words they use on a daily basis.

The thing is… if you do, you can set more relevant facets because:

  • They emulate the way they speak: if your customers use the term “jogging”, don’t create a “running shoes” filter. Even if they understand what that means, “jogging” will be more familiar to them.
  • They understand typos and synonyms: even if the user writes “cooler” or misspells it for “coolr” (and you’ve listed the item under “refrigerator”), search suggestions should include the filters that match refrigerators.

Note: You don’t have to spy on your customers with a hidden microphone to know how they speak. Below, you’ll learn about a tool that allows you to get that info. 😉

👉 How can you implement faceted filtering into your eCommerce?

Faceted search is a feature that is implemented by most internal search engines.

Be careful though. Not all of them meet the criteria we have explained above in this post. In fact, the most basic search engines are pretty limited and offer very basic settings.

In order for you to create search facets that improve your user experience in your store and increase your conversions, you need a smart search engine.

One like —for instance— Doofinder, which includes different site search features that boost faceted search, such as:

  • Typo correction and synonym recognition: it uses NLP (Natural Language Processing) to pick up your users’ language and offer them more relevant results.
  • Synchronization with your product feed: every time you modify a product from your catalog, facets will automatically update too.

In addition, Doofinder can help you identify which search terms are most common among your customers. This can be very useful when creating more relevant search facets for your audience.

So, go ahead and try it out for yourself with Doofinder’s 30-day free trial.

This way, you’ll be able to see all the advantages that a smart search engine can offer you.

✅ How Can Artificial Intelligence Improve Faceted Search?

AI can enhance faceted search by:

➡️ Personalization: 

Machine learning algorithms can analyze customer data to identify patterns and preferences, allowing the search results to be tailored to the individual customer.

➡️ Natural language processing (NLP): 

NLP can be used to interpret customer queries and suggest relevant facets, making the search process more user-friendly.

➡️ Error correction: 

AI can help identify and correct typos in search queries, improving the accuracy of the search results.

➡️ Improved relevance: 

AI can analyze customer behavior to identify the most relevant facets for each search, improving the relevance of the search results.

➡️ Real-time updates: 

AI can monitor changes in the product inventory in real-time, ensuring that search results are always up-to-date.

Overall, these features enable AI to greatly enhance the effectiveness of faceted search. This can result in a better shopping experience for customers and increased sales for businesses.

👉 Add A Faceted Search Engine to Your Site & Increase Your Sales

As you’ve seen, search facets are a very useful tool that can offer your customers the best search and discovery experience while also increasing your sales.

So, don’t settle for a standard site search with default facets.

Customize the search facets to be relevant for your customers and industry, and you’ll see how your customers (and your sales) will thank you for it. 😉