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Optimise Your WordPress Site with Categories and Tags to Attract More Visitors

Organising a filing system so you can find information more easily. Update:

When I originally wrote this article I was allowing the search engines to index my tag pages as well as my category pages.

However, since all my articles appear in both tag and category pages, I recently changed my approach and now ‘noindex’ my tag pages. This is because the search engines can find all my articles through the category pages so I don’t want to dilute my SEO focus.

Original article starts here:

I just spent a full day reviewing and rationalising the tags on this site – and reduced them from 82 to 49. Here’s why:

Categories and Tags are WordPress’ filing system and, as anyone who’s worked in an office will tell you, having a good filing system is crucial to being able to find important information quickly.

With WordPress, having a good category and tag structure (filing system) has a couple of benefits:

  1. It makes it easier for first time visitors to find what they’re looking for, or to discover what else is on the site
  2. It helps to keep visitors on the site longer by giving them an easy way to find other articles on the same subject

And if it’s easier for humans it’s also easier for the search engines.

How do I use categories and tags?

I’ve evolved the way I use categories and tags over time as my understanding has grown.

I have 7 categories on this site now, and any articles I write must fit into one of them. I no longer add new categories.

That helps me to keep the site focused.

One of those is a category called WordPress. So all articles I write on any aspect of WordPress will go into that category. Think of it as the WordPress drawer within my filing cabinet (this website, containing all my content).

Within the WordPress drawer I have a number of folders, which contain articles that are more closely related to each other. These are my tags.

So any article I write on anything to do with a WordPress plugin will go into the WordPress plugins folder (tag), which is in the WordPress drawer in my filing cabinet.

And any article on anything to do with a WordPress theme will be in the themes folder (tag).

Then, at the bottom of each article, I display the tag that it’s in – with the description ‘In sub-folder:’.

So anyone reading to the bottom of the article, and who’s interested in similar articles, only needs to click the tag link to find a listing of all the other articles related to the one they’ve just read.

One of the benefits of electronic filing in this way is that you can file an article in two (or more) places. That’s useful if your article covers a couple of areas.

So, for example, an article that reviews a WordPress security plugin would be filed in both WordPress Plugins and WordPress Security.

Search Engine Optimisation settings

WordPress’ structure enables you to access the same article in a number of different ways: month archives, day archives, year archives, author archives, tag archives and category archives.

In order to keep the SEO on this site focused I ‘noindex’ all those archives with the exception of my tag and category archives. Those are indexed.

Those settings can be made in any of the SEO plugins (All-in-one-SEO pack, Platinum SEO, etc.) and some of the better theme frameworks.

By keeping my categories and tags focused in this way, the search engines can get all the articles on my site indexed more easily. (I also, of course, use the Google Sitemap generator to help with that).

Plus, my category and tag pages will appear in search results.

And that all helps to grow the traffic to my site from the search engines.

New sites vs. old sites

I mentioned at the start that my understanding of categories and tags has evolved over time. The structure of your site will also need to evolve.

Today I do not have any tags with only one article in them. Following the logic above, the article in that tag would never be displaid or linked to from another article.

However, the first article on a new site will be the only article in both its category and its tag.

So at the outset of a new site you’re going to struggle with its structure. This is unavoidable.

You can ease that struggle a bit with some advance planning.

Make sure you have a focus for the site and create a number of articles prior to launching it.

This will also enable you to set up your initial filing system, because those articles are likely to cover a number of different subject areas.

But as you write more articles you’re going to have to review and revise your filing system and, quite likely, re-file articles that you’ve written previously.

This is exactly the exercise I’ve just completed.

It’s a pretty mundane old task, but reviewing your filing system and re-filing articles where it makes sense will help to continuously optimise your site.

Which will help both your site visitors and the search engines.

Cheers,

Martin Malden

 

Wealthy Affiliate will teach you how to build a long term business

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • marvin 23 March, 2011, 11:26 am

    When I started blogging, I never thought it was a “serious” business, nor I thought I’d get serious with it.

    One thing I hate about you guys is….

    Why didn’t you write about his stuff back then?!
    🙂
    Kidding aside. I want to reorganize my categories and tags, how did you get around the links that will be broken after removing categories and tags?

    • Martin 23 March, 2011, 12:53 pm

      Hi Marvin,

      I didn’t do anything about them – or rather, I couldn’t find anything I could do about them!

      Every time I do this the 404 errors in my Google Webmaster Tools account spike, but they settle down reasonably quickly again.

      I use the Google Sitemap Generator plugin which quickly updates the site map, which should help.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

      • marvin 23 March, 2011, 4:18 pm

        I see. So I think I’m safe then. I have Google Sitemap Generator and also uses Google Webmaster Tools.

        …. reorganizing categories and tags….

        Thanks.

      • marvin 25 March, 2011, 10:47 am

        boom! just realized I made a typo on my comment…

        Why didn’t you write about his stuff back then?!
        should be

        Why didn’t you write about “THIS” stuff back then?!

  • Rob 24 March, 2011, 11:14 pm

    It’s so easy for categories and tags to get out of control as you add them. I like the way that you chose 10 cats and stuck to it.

    I’ve just discovered that “all in one SEO” lets you optimize category and tag pages which is useful and has actually led to tag pages on some of my blogs becoming the most visited pages.

    • Martin 25 March, 2011, 6:39 am

      Hi Rob,

      Yes – All-in-One-SEO is good. I used it for a long time before moving all my tags across to Thesis, which does all that for me now.

      Well done on getting your tags pages to rank well!

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Ricky 25 March, 2011, 11:21 pm

    I always use All-in-One-SEO on all of my blogs. Once I get my homepage ranking for my selected keywords, I then focus on a couple of pages and category pages. Good advice here and thanks for sharing!

    • Martin 26 March, 2011, 9:21 am

      You’re welcome!

  • William Rendle 28 March, 2011, 11:13 pm

    I like the comment on new sites, my site has only been up for a few months and already is in need of a clean up, what is interesting though is Rob’s success with his Category’s and Tags in Search listings, I have noticed the same thing, as they seem to rank before the actual pages and posts.
    Thanks again for the tips, its good to see knowledge being shared so freely.
    Best Regards

    Will

    • Martin 29 March, 2011, 7:43 am

      Hi William,

      You’re very welcome – and good luck with the clean up.

      If you’re using Google Webmaster Tools be ready for all the 404 errors that will suddenly crop up. If they’re to tags or categories that you know you’ve deleted then just give it time and they’ll sort themselves out.

      Making sure you use one of the sitemap generator plugins to keep your sitemap freshly submitted will help,

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Dorothy Ray 29 March, 2011, 10:54 pm

    Hi Martin,
    Good advice. When I started this blog I never considered categories and tags, but now I think I need to.
    I have a question about putting “other posts you might like if you liked this one” at the bottom of articles. I still don’t know how to make those titles click into the whole article. Is there a simple way to make a word or phrase a link within your blog article? Thanks, oh Great Word Press Guru Dragon.

    • Martin 30 March, 2011, 6:57 am

      Hi Dorothy,

      If I understand your question correctly I use the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin to do that – but I may well have misunderstood..!

      Let me know if I have,

      Cheers,

      Martin.

      • Dorothy Ray 30 March, 2011, 10:18 am

        Thanks Martin. I’ve downloaded the plugin, now all I have to do is figure out how to use it. Yes, that’s what I asked for, but I didn’t know it could be found in a plugin. I thought you had to do it manually and make the titles links that opened the blog posts.

  • Lydia 5 April, 2011, 3:50 pm

    Thanks for this Martin. Actually, I just moved my blog to self hosted WordPress and this is one of WP’s features that I love. I never knew just how powerful the categories (and sub-categories) and tags were until I really started to study them. They bring in more targeted visitors who otherwise would overlook your blog.

    • Martin 5 April, 2011, 8:49 pm

      You’re welcome, Lydia, and delighted you’re getting good results from organising your categories and tags thoughtfully.

      The beauty is, that getting people into your site via a category or tag page is almost guaranteed to ensure they stay a while and read other pages – unless your category pages are set up to display the full article.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • ray 3 May, 2011, 1:30 pm

    I am also using all in one SEO pack. Do I need to check no-index for archives, categories and tags?

    • Martin 3 May, 2011, 2:56 pm

      Hi Ray,

      I don’t check noindex for categories and tags, for the reasons I described here.

      I do check noindex for all the other archives.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Mobile Themes World 24 June, 2011, 9:25 am

    Thank you for this information.But don’t adding category and tag create duplicate in webmster?

    • Martin 24 June, 2011, 11:30 am

      It’s not duplicate content – it’s the same content on the same site accessed via different routes. That’s why it’s important to use the canonical tag to indicate the primary URL you want the search engines to index.

      Duplicate content is the exact same content on different sites, and it gets there (among other ways) by someone scraping your site or feeding your RSS onto their site.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

      • Mobile Themes World 24 June, 2011, 11:53 am

        I see.So when other website post the same content it become duplicate.isn’t it but I recently have a problem with google webmaster, the google sitemap plugin for wordpress has an option to include category in sitemap and is ticked by default.from end of may my traffic began to decline i got about 52% traffic from search engine now its been reduced to 34.I after i upgrade the sitemap plugin i forgot to check it.which i later found that html suggestion in webmaster tools highlight all categories as duplicate title tag.which made visitors of my website by search to 34%

        • Martin 24 June, 2011, 12:09 pm

          A duplicated title tag is different from duplicate content.

          Duplicated title tags means that you have the same META title tag describing different content on different pages. This is a problem because the title tag is currently a key indicator to the Search Engines of what the page is about. It’s also the blue link in the search results, so it’s an important indicator to humans as well.

          If the title tag does not accurately reflect what the page is about then that page will not do well in the search results.

          You should review each of the pages that have the same title tag and alter the title to accurately reflect the content of the page.

          Cheers,

          Martin.

  • Mobile Themes World 24 June, 2011, 12:39 pm

    i see.my site doesn’t have same title for multiple post.what i see in webmaster is the problem with tag and category
    for example how my website the duplicate title mentioned in webmaster is
    under
    Mobile Themes World » Symbian ^3 Themes
    /category/symbian-3-themes/
    /category/symbian-3-themes/page/10
    /category/symbian-3-themes/page/11

    like that similarly for tags too
    eseries
    /tag/eseries/
    /tag/eseries/page/2
    /tag/eseries/page/4

    That’s why i ask you doesn’t tag and category create duplicates?I don’t know how to get rid of this problem 🙁

    • Martin 24 June, 2011, 1:21 pm

      I’m now confused by your question!

      I just looked at your category pages and, in cases where you have multiple pages of categories, your theme is correctly labelling them Part 2, Part 3 and so on – so the page titles are not duplicated.

      For example: your page title for the first page of the category Nokia C3 Themes is:

      Nokia C3 Themes | Mobile Themes World

      For the second page in that category it is:

      Nokia C3 Themes | Mobile Themes World – Part 2

      This is how it should be, and the ‘Part 2’ is not in the title of the first page, so the Title tag is not duplicated.

      So I don’t think you have a problem to get rid of..!

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Geoff 22 October, 2011, 10:13 pm

    Martin, Categories are a great idea. I just read a great tutorial on the thesis blog about building category pages in such a way that they actually get linked to and build their own PR: http://diythemes.com/thesis/how-many-categories-wordpress/

    I never consideed actually starting a category page with a useful intro. and optimizing the whole page for SEO, but it makes a lot of sense. My blog is relatively new (a few months) so I don’t quite have enough topics to break it up into categories yet, but it’s definitely on my todo list for later this fall.

    • Martin 22 October, 2011, 10:24 pm

      Hi Geoff, yes – last time I checked, the Online Home Business category page (on this site) was #1 out of 468 million results, and the Thesis Theme Tips category page is currently #6 out of 12.7 million results.

      Thesis is great for that SEO stuff 🙂

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Carolyn Nguyen 14 December, 2011, 12:35 pm

    I always use All-in-One-SEO on all of my blogs. I thought you had to do it manually and make the titles links that opened the blog posts. You’re very welcome – and good luck with the clean up. Thank you for this information.But don’t adding category and tag create duplicate in webmster?

    • Martin 15 December, 2011, 8:38 am

      Hi Carolyn,

      No – adding categories and tags don’t create duplicate content. They’re different ways of linking to the same content on the same site. That’s not duplicate content.

      There’s a more detailed explanation of duplicate content on WordPress here.

      Cheers,

      Martin.