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WordPress Categories and SEO

WordPress Categories and SEO

WordPress offers categories and tags to structure your blog, and they also play a vital role in the SEO of your website. When ever I talk about SEO of a WordPress site, I always ask to follow one simple rule: Keep low quality pages out of search index. Today, I will be talking about WordPress categories for SEO, and should we keep it noindex or do-index.

WordPress categories and tags, are two important aspect from the user-experience, and they play a vital role in many other things. For example, most of related posts plugin uses categories and tags to show related post. If your posts are not well structured, related posts will be showing irrelevant article from your blog, and it will have negative effect on the bounce rate of your WordPress blog.

How to structure WordPress categories:

Planning the category of your blog should be done from day one, when you are writing your blog business plan. For example, when I created WordPress freesetup blog, I used following categories:

  • WordPress themes
  • WordPress plugins
  • WordPress SEO
  • WordPress news
  • WordPress hacks
  • Editorial

This helps me to stay focus on my content strategy, and more over if I’m writing off-topic, it gives me warning. Now, the question arises: Are WordPress categories good for SEO?

WordPress categories

As I mentioned above, WordPress category and tags are useful for structuring your own blog. From a search engine perspective, Google is more interested in your post content (Posts). Also, category archive pages are considered as low-quality page, as it doesn’t do any value addition in terms of search engine optimization.

Category and SEO:

Usually people think more pages we have in search results, we will get more traffic. This used to be true till 2011, when search engine bots were not so smart, and for more indexed pages, you end up getting more traffic. But with Google panda update, search engine made it clear that they hate content farm. By content farm, they meant adding pages which are not useful for search engines.

A category page usually contains the archive of select category, and depending upon your blog design, it may show complete post or post excerpt. Now, here are two questions, which 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 same content as your post level? And you end up creating duplicate content

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

My recommendation:

My recommendation for  better SEO of your blog is to keep WordPress categories as noindex but dofollow. This will ensure that search engine bots can crawl all links but will not index categories archive page.

In case if you are planning to change your existing categories name to something sensible now make sure your permalink will not be affected because of that. If you use permalinks like %category%/%posts% I will   not advice you to change your category or use permalinks migration plugin for your blog if your change your category.

Though people and SEO expert suggest that using a %category%/%posts% or %date%/%posts% is Google friendly permalinks structure but I rather stick with %post%.html structure for simple reason my post will never get old and I can reuse them and if I make any changes anywhere it will not break my sitemap.

Tip: Try to change your categories name to something appropriate

Do you have any question ?   I love question.

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Article by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1062 articles.

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{ 10 comments… add one }

  • David

    Hi, i think i´m addicted to Shoutmeloud now XD…
    (1 hour reading and keep on opening tabs in chrome… ufff)

    Well, i want to question you something:

    How to make categories “Follow” with All in one SEO plugin?

    I already read your All in one SEO configuration post, and already addopted months ago what you said: not to index Categories neither Tags.

    But can´t find the way to make categories follow…

    mmmm.. another little question: do you use tags in your posts?.

    Thanks for your time and keep on writting Harsh!

    Reply
  • Matt

    Hi Harsh,
    I am just trying to confirm something. If I do not currently include ‘Category’ in my permalink structure then I can freely change or re-organize whatever categories I have on my site without having to do any redirects, right? I just migrated my site to WP from weebly so have been using the date structure.html for all the blogs that came over and the new ones I write. Soon I will change the link structure and do the re-directs but for now I just want to clean up my categories because I have too many and need to change some. Thanks for any advice.

    Reply
  • 113Tidbits

    Thanks for bringing this simple fix to the forefront of my attention.

    Reply
  • Tech Maish

    Can we add the same tag for the same categories. Let say Tag “Google” for Category ‘Google”

    Reply
  • insights

    Your artile is very instructive. Now I have got a better idea about good permalink structure. As much as possible we should try make the permalink as independent as possible and at the same time it should be delivering the right content information.

    Reply
  • Shahab Khan

    That means if someone is having %postname.html permalink structure then he can edit his older posts without time and date issue??

    Reply
    • Shahab Khan

      actually i mean to say that since we don’t have date in %postname%.html permalink structure therefore editing old posts with these permalink structure should not change or alter the Post permalink of edited post?

      I hope i am able to make you understand this time.

      Reply
      • Harsh Agrawal

        Thats true Shahab. Since you don’t have %date% in your permalink, you can recycle your post. I do it at times when some good post get unnoticed.. This will make sure..to get traffic for those posts which got unnoticed….

        Reply
  • DDlinks

    i have another reason why you should use %post%.html as permalink structure than %category%/%post%.html one
    because it gives u the ability to publish the same post under two or more categories and no duplication posts occurs
    .-= DDlinks ´s last blog ..Keep your drivers up to date =-.

    Reply
  • Asif

    Totally Agree with you man. Especially the last paragraph. I have also noticed this on gurus blog that they usually don’t mention date in their posts as well as you usually dont know when they posted the stuff…

    Reply

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