SEOing category pages on your blog can be tricky.
When you know the strategies and outcomes of optimizing category pages on your website the results are often tantalizing.
Because when you create categories with users and Search Engines in mind it gives you more visibility, conversions, and clicks.
So without further ado, let’s hop into the deets and step-by-step process of building an effective category page.
What is a Category Page?
A Category Page is a page that sorts out or classifies a set of pages into a specific group.
The group signifies a broad topic that the classified pages belong to.
Category Pages help you build topical authority and credibility when you know the most appropriate use of it.
But before you start optimzing your category pages…
A question might come into your mind:
Is it Necessary to Rank Category Pages?
I’ve just said above that…
Category Pages are very helpful to build authority around a particular subject matter on your website.
And as a result, it helps Google and other search engines to understand the topics you cover in a specific archive or category page.
Your Category Page is typically the Seed Keyword with the highest search volume around its all related keywords and phrases.
Down the road, you might want to generate traffic through the Seed Keyword for hundreds of thousands of traffic to your website.
And this is not only to get traffic but also essential to optimize your category pages for user engagement as well.
This can be achieved by following a certain set of basic on-page optimization rules to make your category page like a landing page.
The optimization of Category Pages especially applies to E-Commerce websites but it also plays a major role in blog websites as well.
Now, let me move further to guide you through the whole SEO process of Category Pages.
How to Optimize Your Category Pages?
Zero in carefully…
This technique is overlooked by most, talked less by most.
So after you’ve finished optimizing them you’ll get a competitive edge within your niche.
Choose a Keyword for Grouping
The keyword you choose for your Category Page plays a very significant role.
You need to choose the most dominant keyword around the topics you’ve written or going to write in the future.
If you are writing a set of blog post such as…
Best WordPress Themes for Blogging
How to Start a Blog
How to Reduce TTFB on Your Blog
You can choose “Blogging” as your category keyword.
Here’s another example:
You’ve written several articles on your blog, such as…
11 Benefits of Low-Carb Diet
Low-Carb Diet: 9 Mistakes You’re Probably Making
How Low-Carb Diet Can Help You Lose Weight
10 Types of Low-Carb Diets and their Meal Plans
You can choose the keyphrase “Low-Carb Diet” for your category page name.
Customize the H1 of the Category Page
Not the Title Tag but the H1 Tag…
Because it’s necessary to keep the seed keyword exact same as the title for optimal performance in the SERPs.
However modifying the H1 will help you persuade the visitor further.
It’s not necessary but you can change it as per your requirement.
Look at the following examples to create a modified H1.
If your Category Page name is “Men’s Grooming”, you can modify the default page heading to something like…
Articles on Men’s Grooming
Learn Everything About Men’s Grooming
Men’s Grooming: Carefully Crafted Resources for Every Stylish Man
If your Category Page name is “Portrait Photography”, you can modify the default page heading to something like…
Learn Portrait Photography
Everything About Portrait Photography
Portrait Photography: Find Everything from AtoZ
On WordPress to tweak your H1…
Go to Posts>Categories and scroll down to Category Archive Settings and enter your desired page heading in the Archive Headline field.
Add a Category Page Description
Category Pages have an age-old bad reputation that they create duplicate content issues, so they should be no indexed to avoid getting any possible algorithmic penalty from Google.
The reason is:
They show the posts belong to the category in its feed with no original content.
To get rid of this issue you just need to add a few amounts of descriptive text related to the category.
Depending on the topic you can add its definition, some persuasive text, or some relevant introductory text.
For this WordPress provides you two different sections to customize.
THE FIRST IS “DESCRIPTION”.
THE SECOND IS “ARCHIVE INTRO TEXT”
The “Description” is meta-information, which means it will only visible to search engines and in the search results snippets.
The “Archive Intro Text” is what visible on the web page.
Giving description is optional and if you prefer just write a very short persuasive text.
Here’s what I wrote:
The intro text is what sets the Category Page actually apart from the competition.
Here’s what I wrote in the Archive Intro Text:
Make sure the text is clear and concise and isn’t too long. You can write the introductory content within 300 characters.
Add Links to Popular Pages and Contents
Following the intro text, you can add links to your popular contents.
The contents could be like:
Most viewed contents (popular)
Related products (if you are selling some ebooks, courses, etc.)
Or anything creative that ticks in your mind.
Make sure you are adding some persuasive text before you add links to these items.
The following is the final version of my hypothetical Category Page:
To make your Category Page appear in the search results is to make it authoritative.
And to make it authoritative you have to interlink it from other posts of that category.
Use the title of the Category Page as the anchor text (Exact Match) while you interlink it.
This way Google can assume the focus keyword of the page or the keyword you are trying to rank the page for.
However, when you interlink from several pages, do not use the Exact Match Keyword every time. Instead, make a partial match keyword to link to your category page.
In one of my posts, I’ve used the following partial match anchor text to link to my pillar content on On-Page SEO (the same things applies to Category Page also).
As a result, this will send a ranking signal to Google for the page and they’ll come to know that this is an important page on your website. And the more you link to it, the more important it will become.
Eventually, Google may show the Category Page in the SERP if they think the page is somewhat deserving.
SIDE NOTE: Link to your Category Pages only when it’s relevant and gives value to the users. Please don’t try to game the system.
Place the Category Links in the Navigation Bar
SEOing or optimizing your Category Pages doesn’t always mean that you need to rank them higher in the SERPs.
It’s also about passing link juice to it as well as all the belonging pages to it.
To do it, place the links of the important Category Pages in the navigation menu.
This way, whenever an “Inbound External Link” comes to your site, the equity of the backlink will distribute equally to all the relevant pages of the respective Category Page.
Eventually, it will give a ranking boost to all the connected pages.
PRO TIP: Create a blog page and put a link to it in the navigation menu. This will send the link juice equally to all the categories and posts of the website. This SEO technique is known as Organizational SILO and it really works great.
Categories vs Tags: Which One Should You Use?
On WordPress, you’ll find both Categories and Tags to structure your site’s content.
And you might have confused about which one to choose or use. Or maybe you are thinking which one is better.
Well, you can choose either one of them and no one is better, they are basically the same.
The optimization procedure is also the exact same. You just need to head over to Posts>Tags and follow the same steps as above.
But one thing separates categories from tags is that categories let you create Sub-Categories (also “Sub-Subcategories”, “Sub-Sub-Subcategories”, and so on) within a category.
This functionality helps when you need to break down a certain topic into smaller sub-topics. Fundamentally, the categories will help you create a hierarchical structure of your website.
The hierarchy can take place when you classify a topic like “Social Media Marketing” into three or more categories like Facebook Marketing, Twitter Marketing, Instagram Marketing, etc.
And Low Fat Diet, Low-Carb Diet, etc. in the case of “Nutrition”.
But in the case of tags, you can’t create Sub-Tags.
As you can realize it depends on how you organize and structure your content.
If your site doesn’t have any Subcategories you may go with Tags. It won’t make any difference.
HERE’S SOMETHING IMPORTANT:
Don’t create more than one subcategory. This means you should never create sub subcategory.
But don’t create…
The location of the content shouldn’t be more than 3 clicks away.
On the 4th click or level (4-step away from the Homepage) the content should come.
The reason is:
“Google doesn’t like to crawl content that resides deep down”.
So do keep in mind you are not creating more than one subcategory for the sake of users and SEO.
SIDENOTE: Don’t create duplicate categories and tags. Also, don’t choose both, use only one of them for SEO and User Experience purposes.
When You Don’t Need to SEO Category Pages?
Category Page SEO may not be for everyone.
The necessity of it will depend on the structure of your website.
The optimization of your Category Pages doesn’t apply when you create your pages with Hub-and-Spoke Structure or Circle SILO.
This is a technique when you create a massively detailed content using the Seed Keyword and create other semantically related contents and pages (called Child Pages) around that particular Seed Keyword and then link back to that Hub or SILO Page (the Seed Keyword content) to create authority.
Either method works and the choice is upto the creator of the website.
In spite of Optimizating the Category Pages, seach engines might not choose it to rank higher in the SERPs.
Because optimizing them on blog websites for high search rankings is relatively tough and it’s up to the search engine whether the page fits for the query or not.
However it’ll definitely help you…
…To boost authority of your website…
…To boost overall search rankings of your website if you follow the steps as stated above.
This is how Google anaylzes Category Pages IN A NUTSHELL:
It’ll visit the Category Page, will analyze all the content within it to determine its underlying topic and will rank the pages accordingly.
Did you optimize your Category Pages?