What are faceted filters? Complete guide to setting up advanced faceted search for WooCommerce

August 4, 2022

What are faceted filters The Complete Guide to setting up an advanced faceted search solution for your WooCommerce website

Not sure how to set up advanced faceted search for your WooCommerce store? Not even sure what faceted filters are? Although WordPress comes with a basic product search out of the box, it doesn’t pull up the most relevant results. Keep reading to discover how to supercharge your store's search and filtering.

WooCommerce stores are a unique world of their own. Think about it this way: shoppers hardly ever know what to search for in your online store. What if they type the wrong thing and don't find the right products?

The solution is to set up smart search options, such as advanced faceted search and filtering. The right search features are more attuned to online shopping and anticipate your customer's needs, helping them to find what they want more easily.

In this complete guide, I’m going to explain what WooCommerce faceted search is and why it can make such a huge difference to sales in your store. I’ll also share the best WooCommerce faceted search plugin and show you step-by-step how to set it up.

Grow your sales by helping customers to find exactly what they need - quickly and easily.

Faceted search enables users to filter what they’re looking for by different criteria. They can narrow down their selection and quickly find specific items in your online store.

Advanced faceted search example

Think of facets as categories or attributes that the products in your store can be grouped into and filtered by. Here are a few examples:

  • Computer hardware stores that sell products like SSDs, you might have different facets for platform support, capacity, connection type, and compatible devices.
  • Stores that sell clothes often have facets for color, fabric, occasion, and size.
  • Stores that sell cookware have facets for material, price, and color.

This way, customers can quickly make their selection and find the exact product they’re looking for.

Facets vs filters vs search: what’s the difference?

The problem with a regular search bar on e-commerce stores is that buyers often don’t know what to search for. This is especially true if this is their first time visiting your store.

In addition to this, search results don’t offer support for typos, errors, or common keyword synonyms. For example, a customer might want to purchase a red t-shirt from your WooCommerce store. But, if you’ve named the product Crimson T-shirt, it won’t appear in the search results.

Filtered search is when customers can use a filter dropdown or other types of filter to narrow down their search results. So, following our example, a customer might select T-shirts using the category filter to view all t-shirt products.

Faceted search is similar to filters but they’re different search methods. With faceted search, customers see a logical interface that helps them quickly find what they’re looking for. Following our example from above, customers could set the Type facet to T-shirt and the Color facet to Crimson.

These are the main differences between facets and filters:

  • Narrowing down search results. Regular filters let buyers narrow down search results one at a time. Faceted filters use multiple filters that can be applied at once. This way, customers can quickly find the product they’re looking for.
  • Filtering results based on different attributes. WooCommerce filters are typically limited to the product category only. However, with faceted filters, you can create filters based on different product attributes. This is also a great way to use keywords in your faceted search.
  • Improving product catalog structure. With faceted filters, customers are more likely to find exactly what they’re looking for rather, even if you sell dozens or hundreds of products. For example, if you sell hardware goods like nuts and bolts of different sizes, faceted filters will improve the product catalog structure and make it easy for customers to find the exact product quickly.

To sum it up, faceted filters let buyers narrow down search results more than what’s possible with regular filters.

Before we get into which types of WooCommerce stores need advanced faceted search, let’s quickly step through some important statistics.

Research conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group concluded:

Users notice and complain in the rare cases when facets are absent. These days, ecommerce sites without faceted search are the exception, rather than the rule.

Reformation faceted filters

The same study found that 27% of search failures were a result of not being able to find suitable items on stores, even though at least one matching product was available.

The Nielsen Norman Group also reports that in 2000, only 64% of all in-site searches were ultimately successful. In 2011, this increased to 74% and, in 2017, a whopping 92% of all in-site searches were successful.

What about faceted filters in WooCommerce?

Surprisingly, few WooCommerce stores use facets for their in-site search. This is especially surprising considering that the filters that come with WooCommerce out of the box are pretty basic.

Facets are essential for stores that sell dozens, hundreds, or thousands of products. Customers will benefit from being able to select specific product attributes to narrow down their selection.

Crate and Barrel faceted filters

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Clothing stores. Stores that sell apparel can set up facets for type, fabric, size, fit, color, and price.
  • Hardware stores. Stores that sell products like fasteners, nuts and bolts, screws, locks, hinges, power tools, and plumbing supplies can use facets for availability, department, dimensions, and ratings.
  • Furniture stores. Furniture stores might consider creating facets for attributes like color, price, width, height, and type.

As you can see, faceted filters make it easy for customers to narrow down the options and find what they’re looking for. Stores that sell a medium or large number of products can benefit from speeding up the browsing experience.

WooCommerce product filter AJAX plugin

WooCommerce Product Filters is the best advanced faceted search plugin for WooCommerce. As well as having all the faceted filters you could need, it has clever logic built-in to avoid frustration and ensure that customers always see results.

This is achieved by never showing empty filter options. In other words, customers will see faceted filters for available products only. The plugin also provides the option to display the number of products within each option so that customers will naturally stop choosing options when the number of results gets too low.

Grow your sales by helping customers to find exactly what they need - quickly and easily.

Now that we’ve chosen a WooCommerce faceted search plugin, the next step is to plan the sort of data that you want to help customers search by.

WooCommerce Product Filters gives you the following options:

  • Categories - Essential for stores that sell lots of different types of products. Customers can select the facet for the type of product they’re looking for e.g. Tops, Dresses, Pants, or Shoes.
  • Attributes - Product attributes – like size, weight, dimensions – are important for stores that sell products like hardware goods or furniture.
  • Colors - Stores that sell apparel, furniture, or cookware can help customers quickly find products by color using this facet.
  • Tags - Depending on how you’ve set up WooCommerce tags, you might want to let customers select tag facets to narrow down their search.
  • Custom taxonomy - You can use the custom taxonomy facet if you’ve created custom taxonomies to better organize your products. For example, if you sell products by different brands, you can make it easy for customers to find the exact product they’re looking for.
  • Price - A price facet is beneficial for almost every type of e-commerce store. It lets customers set the price range and filter out less expensive (or more expensive) items.
  • Ratings - Setting up a ratings faceted filter on your WooCommerce store makes it easy for customers to find high-quality products. It’s also a good way to use social proof on your online store.
  • In stock - This is perfect for stores that sell out quickly. For example, hardware stores and furniture stores often have some products in stock while others are on backorder or temporarily out of stock. This faceted filter lets customers only view the products that are in stock.
  • On sale - Customers can select this facet to only view products that are on sale.

What the faceted filters look like in your store

Once you've installed the plugin, it only takes a few minutes to add advanced faceted search filters to your store. The end result will be something like this on desktop:

WooCommerce faceted search filters

And either this or this on mobile, depending on how you set it up for mobile users:

Either way, it's the perfect way to add advanced faceted search to any WooCommerce store!

How to set up WooCommerce faceted filters

Here’s what you need to do to set up advanced faceted filters search using the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin.

Step #1: Install WooCommerce Product Filters

Get the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin if you haven’t done so already. Install and activate it on your WordPress site.

Step #2: Configure the faceted filters

The setup wizard will open next. Enter your license key and choose how you want your faceted filters to behave. Here's some more information about the main settings.

Filter behavior and content

WooCommerce AJAX filter plugin

You can set the Filter mode option to either Instant or Button click. By default, it’s set to instantly update the list of products using AJAX as soon as the customer selects an item from any of the filters. Use this if you want AJAX faceted filters in WooCommerce.

The WooCommerce Product Filters plugin also gives you the option to display the total product count next to each option. You can set this using the Product count option.

Filter visibility

Use this option to show selected filter groups on the shop page, category pages, and product tag archives. Optionally, you can disable this option if you want to add filters to pages manually or display them in a sidebar.

The plugin lets you hide all faceted filters by default. If you enable this option, customers won’t see the filters when the page first loads. They’ll need to click a button to view the faceted filters and refine their search. This is perfect for hiding filters on mobile devices.

Finally, you can change the Show filters button text and display faceted filters in a slide-out panel instead of directly on the page.

Toggle filters

WooCommerce toggle product filters open closed
Facets with the filters toggled to closed

This option lets you add a an open/close arrow to the right of each filter heading. Customers can click it to open/close faceted filters. If you have a small number of filters, you should leave this option set to Open. However, if you have tons of filters on the page, you should set it to Closed to save space on the page.

Step #3: Create faceted filters

WooCommerce Product Filters lets you create all sorts of faceted filters for your online store. Depending on the types of products you sell, you can use any combination of the available filters to enhance the search and browsing experience of your store.

Think about the best way to present each filter on your product catalog pages. You can use dropdowns, radio buttons, color swatches, images, or checkboxes. The aim is to make things as easy as possible for customers so that they intuitively select the options they want and perform an advanced faceted search without having to think.

WooCommerce product filter styles types

Next, go to Products → Filters in the WordPress admin. You'll see a default filter group containing some popular facets. Either edit this, or great your own.

Whichever you do, fill in the details to add a new filter. You can set the name, filter by, filter type, and assign to group options. Repeat this step to create as many facets as you’d like.

Where to get the plugin

Implementing seamless in-site search becomes significantly easier with faceted filters. The main benefit is that it makes buyers feel like they have complete control of their options.

Using the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin, you can set up an advanced faceted search on your online store and give customers plenty of options to narrow down their search. As a result, they’ll be able to find the products they’re looking for faster.

Ready to set up an advanced faceted search solution for your WooCommerce website? Get WooCommerce Product Filters today!

Grow your sales by helping customers to find exactly what they need - quickly and easily.

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