WordPress categories and tags offer many opportunities to draw more traffic to your website and increase engagement rates. First of all, tag pages are indexed by search engines, which improves chances for at least a 5% increase in traffic.
Besides, a logical category system will make it much easier to navigate your website, which will make it easier to use. Many people are choosing their sources by how intuitive the layout and menu are.
Getting deeper into the topic, let’s look at:
- what both of these terms mean;
- what their significance for SEO;
- how to improve WordPress SEO;
- best tips for reforming these entities for Google ranking.
Definition & Distinctness
Categories and tags are tools that assist you with content structuring. Categories are for vast subjects, and tags are more particular. Although they have a lot in common, they are also different in some ways.
It would be best if you understood the differences to utilize the instruments properly. It will be easier if we illustrate them on the example of a book’s table of contents and index:
- Categories (or groups) can be named as book chapters. As you know, any writing has chapters, and any chapter has a title. A title is a word or a few words that can describe the main idea of the chapter. And if you delete one chapter, it would be difficult to read and perceive the whole novel.
- Tags are more like an index of an edition. Indexes can be clearer, so there is a larger amount of them. If you check indexes, you also can obtain the general idea of the novel. Still, the deleting of any index does not change the content of the writing.
Important technical distinctness between two entities:
- Categories are hierarchic. Any such entity can give birth to a subcategory.
- Tags are not hierarchic. You can’t set up a subtag in WordPress. There is no parent-child relationship or any similar connection. Tags are just a list, not an organization.
Why It Is A Great Idea To Name Categories & Tags?
Both concepts in question are part of the internal organization of the web resource. This structure is used to make sites easier to perceive (for real readers).
But also, the data about the system is transferred to search engines. That’s why, if you change it as the ranking is in process, there is a risk of losing SEO backlinks. And that leads to losing your place in SERPs.
How These Two Entities Affect Site Ranking?
Categories and tags on WordPress act like internal links and therefore deliver similar SEO leverage:
- Accelerate verification of the site by automatic systems. If the resource has a well-written internal structure, it is easier for the robot to go through. It just “opens” a category or tag and checks everything in it.
- It passes keywords to Google. That’s why it’s so essential to think properly about the names of these entities. If they are competitive and related, the search engine will quickly figure out what your site is about.
- Increase link juice. Surely, backlinks are essential, and it is profitable to refer to USA SEO backlinks building services for promotion. Still, categories and tags will enhance their effect.
Categories best tips for SEO:
- If you are building a hierarchy, leave links to it in the posts (breadcrumbs). This way, the user will follow the structure without getting confused;
- Each post should refer to one group unless it’s a broad topic connecting several categories;
- Don’t commit too many categories to a post;
- Don’t use complicated, incomprehensible words for titles. Even a new visitor should understand what it’s about;
- Titles must be relevant to the content of the site;
- Write category names with capital letters and tags in lower case; it will distinguish them and improve the internal system of the website;
- Try to minimize the number of groups. Use this approach: every time you want to add a category, consider whether you can merge it with another one;
- Don’t set up a category if you’re not going to add posts to it. Plan articles, and then create a group to add them to.
Recommendations for using tags:
- Some SEO experts recommend not using tags. This can lead to a large number of pages being created with little value tags. By default, WordPress sets up an isolated tag archive page that lists all entries with each specific tag. Suppose you use a large number of tags; this can create many small pages that have no chance of ranking in search engines.
- A good compromise might be to use tags as needed to help real visitors. Still add noindex tags, so Google doesn’t waste time crawling the tag pages. Most SEO WordPress plugins can be handy for this—for example, Yoast SEO, Rank Math, SEOPress, SEOPressor Connect, etc.
When Should You Use Categories & When Tags?
In the case of categories and tags, it’s not an “either/or” situation. You can use both entities simultaneously. Mainly, groups are for broader categorization, and tags are for more specific details.
A good example of how to use it would be a blog about WordPress. Let’s say you’re writing about the Elementor page builder plugin. For this post, you could:
- Assign the Plugins category because the entry is about a WordPress plugin;
- Assign the Elementor tag because the entry is about this particular plugin.
In this example, you may not have enough content about Elementor to commit it to a separate category. However, by adding a tag, you can still help visitors to your site find publications about the plugin.
Is it always necessary to use both categories and tags? There is no such rule. The WordPress platform requires the mandatory use of categories, but you may not have tags at all. However, they are quite handy because you can use a lot of them at once. And they are the main keyword tool in WordPress.
Optimizing WordPress Categories
When looking at WordPress category pages from an SEO viewpoint, they have several definite problems. For example, repetitive text. The solution for commercial resources is to turn category pages into landing pages. Here’s how that might work:
- Let’s say we have a travel site where we promote hotel reservations in Spain. Not in one city, but all over Spain. And we would have headings for “Hotels in Madrid,” “Hotels in Barcelona,” and so on. And in each of these sections, we will have separate pages (posts) with hotel narrations. For example, “Gran Hotel La Florida in Barcelona” or “Hotel Vía Castellana in Madrid.”
- Of course, creating a separate post for the keyword “Hotels in Madrid” would not make sense. There are many hotels in the Spanish capital, and one page will not fit their narrations. Therefore, in this case, it is more practical to bring visitors to the category page. It should be a page with the same title on the request “Hotels in Madrid” and some information on the topic.
Then, you need to take the following steps:
- Double-check that the site is installed and working with breadcrumbs. References in the breadcrumbs should be clickable and marked. That is, according to our example above, we should have the following layout:
Home > Hotels in Barcelona > Gran Hotel La Florida.
- Add references to “Hotels in Barcelona” with the correct anchor from internal pages (posts). For example, take the same post about Gran Hotel La Florida in Barcelona. Edit it and insert a link to the “Hotels in Barcelona” section. In this way, we let the search engine know that the category page is essential.
- Check that the name of the group page doesn’t have a copy in the names of separate pages (posts). Do not make a title like “Hotels in Barcelona” to review the Gran Hotel La Florida. This will create keyword cannibalization, which isn’t great for SEO and page ranking.
As a final reminder, do not try to put a particular post into many different groups. Keep in mind that such entities are meant to be broadly grouped. So it’s best to commit no more than 1-3 categories to a post.
If you find yourself applying more, the categories may be too narrow. So, it’s worth considering turning some of them into tags or subcategories. Make it logical and convenient both for the readers and search engines.
James Baxter is a professional writer and blogger who loves sharing his experience and knowledge with readers. He is especially interested in digital marketing, SEO, and IT. James is always happy to visit different places and meet new people there.
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