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How to Use Categories Properly in WordPress for SEO & Usability

WordPress Categories and SEO

WordPress categories and tags help you to structure your blog. They also play a vital role in the SEO of your website. Whenever I talk about the SEO of a WordPress site, I always follow one simple rule:

  • Keep low-quality pages out of the search index.

Today, I will be talking about WordPress categories and SEO.

I’ll also answer the question of:

  • Should we keep categories as no-index or do-index?

Related reading: How To Write SEO Friendly Content)

WordPress categories and tags are the two most important aspects from the user experience point of view.

For example, most of the related posts plugins use categories and tags to show related posts. If your categories are not well structured, related posts will show irrelevant articles, and it will have a negative effect on the bounce rate of your WordPress blog.

How To Structure WordPress Categories:

Planning the categories of your blog should be done from day one; do it as you are writing your blog’s business plan. For example, when I created the WPSutra blog, I used the following categories:

  • WordPress Themes
  • WordPress Plugins
  • WordPress SEO
  • WordPress News
  • WordPress Hacks
  • Editorial

This helps me to stay focused on my content strategy, and moreover, if I’m writing off-topic, this guide gives me a warning to get back on track.

Now, the question arises:

  • Are WordPress categories good for SEO?

WordPress categories

As I mentioned above, WordPress categories are useful for structuring your blog. From a search engine perspective, Google is much more interested in your content (posts). Moreover, category archive pages are considered a “low-quality page” as it doesn’t add any value in terms of search engine optimization.

Categories and SEO:

Usually, people think that the more pages we have in search results, the more traffic will we get.

This was true in 2011 when search engine bots were not so smart. The more indexed pages, the higher the traffic.

But with the Google Panda update, search engines made it clear that they hate content farming– adding pages into search engines that serve no value.

A category page usually contains the archive of a select category, and depending on your blog design, it may show a complete post or a post excerpt.

Now, here are two questions that you should ask yourself:

  • Is your category page solving any problem to a user using Google Search?
  • If your category page is indexed, isn’t it showing the same content as your post?

You are now creating duplicate content.

In short, category pages are useless from an SEO perspective, but beneficial from the user experience point of view as it offers another way to navigate your site. It’s also helpful for search engine bots to crawl your website deeper.

My recommendation:

  • For better SEO, keep WordPress categories as “no-index but “do-follow”.

This will ensure that search engine bots can crawl all links, but will not index category pages.

If you are planning to change your existing category names to something more sensible, make sure your permalinks are not affected by this change.

If you use permalinks like “%category% / %posts%”, I would not advise you to change your categories or use a permalinks migration plugin for your blog.

Though some SEO experts suggest that using “%category% / %posts%” or %date% / %posts%” is a Google friendly permalinks structure, I would rather stick with a %post%.html” structure. The reason for this is that my posts will never get old and I can reuse them whenever I want.

Also, if I make any changes, it will not break my sitemap.

 

Do you have any questions? I love questions. Ask away in the comments below.

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How to Use Categories Properly in WordPress for SEO & Usability

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