What are Category Pages Exactly?
Category pages are one-half of the taxonomies in WordPress. The other half are the WordPress tags. WordPress categories are a list of links that lead to all posts that are listed under that category.
And as this is Google and in Google’s algorithm everything revolves around links, category pages offer some unique SEO link-related benefits to your blog.
Read about it below!
3 Awesome Benefits of Category Pages for SEO
#1- Preserve Crawl Budget
Every site on the internet that Google knows about has it’s dedicated crawl budget.
That is the amount of $ Google is ready to spend to crawl/index your content.
And if you’re a small and unknown site, chances are your crawl budget is next to nothing and that means you must use what you have very prudently.
And besides using HTML sitemaps for crawling and indexing purposes, category pages are your second best bet.
Because they’re a list of links, all in one place, all it has to happen is for Google to find your category page and it has immediately found dozens of other posts.
Think of it as a shortcut.
For example, Chayan has his blogger interviews category neatly put in the menu. That means as soon as Google-bot hits the home page, they crawl that category and find all those awesome interviews.
#2- Category Pages Help With PR Distribution
A category page is a superb PR distributor because as mentioned they are lists of links.
Learn to write your post’s headline with SEO in mind. This means you need to use your main keyword in the H1 tag.
Because these headlines get pulled in your category pages and they become anchor texts, and internal anchor text that is also keyword-rich is a strong Google ranking factor. .
And it’s free and totally under your control, so you have no excuse not to use it.
Chayan does a great job because his interview category lists his interviews, obviously, but each title has the name of the person being interviewed.
And that is a way for Chayan to get some of that Navin’s branded traffic.
And Navin can’t complain because he’s the one being interviewed and people reading about him are going to get a good impression.
So everyone wins, right?
Another example is my recent interview I did with Mudassir Ahmed. It happened a week ago, but if you search for my name in Google you will see it ranked somewhere on the first page.
Note: SERPs change all the time, So I can’t guarantee it, but that is the situation now.
And I like it because I’m proud of that interview and proud that people actually call me to share my experience with their audience.
It’s amazing proof to me that at least I’m doing something right:)
Category Pages Help People Navigate Your Site
We SEO’s often get so tangled up in the latest and greatest SEO theory that we forget about the users, actual people using our sites.
Category pages above all should improve your site’s speed and usability and be helpful to the user so they can quickly find what they’re looking for.
Category pages are awesome for your WordPress site, but it’s not all sunshine and roses…
Here are 3 Reasons Why Category Pages are Bad for SEO (and How to Beat Them)
#1- Thin content galore
Category pages are a list of links, images that accompany those links and excerpts from the posts. That is nice and all, but the problem is that those excerpts are extracted from the posts they’re representing, which means they’re duplicate content.
Google doesn’t like duplicate content as it bloats their index, costs them money and offers no unique value to their users.
So if you have too many duplicate pages, you could get hit with a Panda (thin content) penalty.
#2- PR Dilution
Category pages are usually highly authoritative because every post in it’s category links to it. The problem is that those pages cannot rank because they’re 100% duplicate so effectively that PR gets wasted on a non rankable page.
Note: it is possible to rank a category page and I explain how below.
#3- Irrelevant Categories Dilute Your Topical Authority
Google likes and wants you to be an authority in your niche.
So if it’s WordPress, you will have a WordPress category
If it’s affiliate marketing, you will have an affiliate marketing category.
But if you’re site’s theme are WordPress and affiliate marketing, don’t add irrelevant categories like skiing, tennis or Roger Federer.
This will only confuse Google and make it harder for you to rank.
If you think this tip is pretty obvious- you’re right. But you’d be surprised how often I see irrelevant categories on someone’s blog and it never ceases to surprise me
What are these people thinking?
Or maybe they aren’t thinking and that’s the problem!
2 Tips to Maximise the SEO Value of Category Pages
Add Some Unique Content to Them
Did you know that category pages don’t have to be 100% duplicate content?
Now you know so make sure you use that knowledge to your advantage.
By adding some content you’re making it a unique page that brings value to your SEO and to any user that stumbles upon it.
What to write on your category page?
Write about your categorie’s content and what folks can learn by staying there.
Note: Don’t go crazy, 100 words and an image is more than enough.
Increase the Number of Posts Per Category Page
When you have 10 posts per category page and you have 20 posts that are already 2 useless pages in your index.
But if you had 100 posts that are 10 deadweight pages in your index.
Having too much thin content indexed in Google sets you up for a penalty, and even if you don’t get one; each indexed page in Google draws out a little of your site’s total authority. So by having too many pages, you’re diluting your authority and making it harder for you to rank.
Bottom line- you only want quality stuff from your site indexed.
For example, on my site I have set up so that each category holds 100 of its posts. And I’m nowhere near to filling up the quota for any of my archive pages.
Bonus Tip- Can You Rank a Category Page in Google?
The short answer to that is yes! Yes you can.
The longer version is yes; but it’s not easy to do.
Since it is duplicate content you’ll be pushing a heavy boulder up a very steep hill and you better have a strong back and be prepared for a lot of friction from Google
But still, it’s possible and the steps to ranking category pages are
- Add some unique content at the top of the page (thus making it unique)
- Link internally from your blog posts and put the category in the menu (this way it receives maximum internal authority)
- Build links to your category page (you need external PR and lots of it)
The first 2 steps are easy and under your control. The third step is hard because it’s hard to link build to category pages.
But it can be done! For example, this is a link to my Wealthy Affiliate category.
This one link is going to help me a lot, but it probably won’t be enough to rank number #1 in Google. So I’ll need more links to do that.
And to finish this article
Here is an example from Moz how they rank at the top with their category page and for a very competitive term “Technical SEO”
Now that you know the perils of unorganized categorizing in WordPress and the awesome benefits that come when you know what you’re doing, are you going to use them?
Category pages can help your SEO and it’s up to you to make it happen.
And now you know exactly how.
I want to thank Chayan for inviting me here to share my expertise with his readers.
It’s an honor and a privilege for sure.
Let’s meet in the comment section below!