Using Blog Categories and Tags for SEO

If you don’t understand how to use categories and tags in your blog start there first. Then come back to this post to learn how you can use blog taxonomies to get an SEO boost so your WordPress site will rank better in Google.

Category and Tag Archive pages are important for SEO

According to Yoast, taxonomy pages should rank higher in search than your individual post pages. [source]


Category Descriptions add SEO value to Archive pages

  • Category descriptions are a great way to summarize for your site users what your category is about.
  • Writing a description forces you to think about your site structure. Ask yourself “Why is this category here?
  • Adding a category description turns a mere archive into a page that contains it’s own valuable content. An archive page can be a cornerstone content page that you will want to direct visitors to.
  • Adding a good category description can also help your archive pages to rank in search results.
  • You can link to your category pages from within your page content sending visitors to all your blog has to offer on a subject

If your WordPress theme doesn’t show a category description, use this code to add a category description to your theme.

How categories and tags are displayed

Most blogs display categories in a sidebar widget. Category structure is also displayed in the breadcrumb trail at the top of posts. You can also set your WordPress permalink structure to include the post category in the URL.

The once popular tag cloud has gone out of favour. You may see a list of tags at the end of a blog post encouraging users to click and read more about the topic

Interlinking with Categories and Tags

You’re probably already linking posts from one blog post to another but have you considered linking to a tag or category? Interlinking is an effective way that you can use Categories and Tags within your blog. It is a valuable practice that can

  • direct readers to related content on my blog and
  • increase the time they spend on my blog and
  • increase the number of pages they view (lower bounce rate) and
  • increase the possibility that my blog content will ranking in search
  • help Google to index archive pages

Here’s an example. If I write a blog post about Pinterest. I would put the post in the category “Social Media” and tag it “Pinterest“. Then when I write a new post I could link directly from the word Pinterest to that previous post or better still, to my Pinterest tag. This way all posts I’ve published and tagged Pinterest will be displayed from the link. In the same way when I use the term “Social Media” I can link to the Social Media category page.

I know it is sometimes hard to choose just one category, this is where tags come in. Tags work to link together like content across categories. I can tag a post that talks about a WordPress social sharing plugin with the tag Pinterest, linking together all posts that reference Pinterest in the category WordPress and the category Social Media.

Optimize Archive Pages and SEO

Keywords should be used in the naming structure of categories and tags.

Using the SEO by Yoast WordPress plugin you can optimize meta titles and descriptions for your taxonomy archive pages. Click to Edit a Tag or Category a “Yoast WordPress SEO Settings” section appears at the bottom of the page. Any tag or category page that you are linking to from your blog content should be optimized with a custom SEO title and description.

Cleaning up Tags & Categories → 301 Redirects

A common problem is overusing tags and categories. If you’re guilty of this (and few of us aren’t) you’ll want to restructure your site. Delete, redirect and merge taxonomies to improve your website architecture. Create a list of all tags and categories that you change so that you can create 301 redirects.

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