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Using Best SEO Practices for Blog Categories & Tags

Learn How to Use Blog Tag & Category Pages to Improve SEO

When you’re finishing a blog and going through your final touches, one thing that you’ll likely do is assign blogs and categories. For many blog authors, categories and tags are considered an after-thought, but not many people will consider the SEO effects of blog categories and tags.

It’s very common for authors to use blog categories and blog tags excessively and blindly. Obviously, tags and categories provide value for UX, offering readers a way to sort through topics on blogs. You may be thinking the more blog tags and categories will be better off for SEO; or maybe you’re not even thinking of SEO at all (tsk, tsk)!

The truth is, many digital marketers, content creators, editors, and webmasters may not fully understand the relationship between blog categories and tags, and SEO best practices. The excessive, careless way we generally use blog categories and tags are hurting your SEO. Instead, it’s time to approach blog categories and tags more carefully and planned, to take advantage of SEO.

Tags vs. Categories: What’s The Difference

Blog Tags: Tags are meant to relate your posts together, but not necessarily categorize them. Tags are topics or trends that are mentioned in blog posts, rather than the complete focus of the post. You’re not required to add any blog tags, but there’s also no limit to the number of tags you can use.

Blog Categories: Categories are intended to group blog posts by a broad topic. The topic of a blog post will likely determine which tag is used. With blog categories, you’re required to choose at least one in order to publish a post.

The Hidden SEO Problem with Blog Categories & Blog Tags

Often times, the way blog tags are used can result in a problem you didn’t even know existed. If tags and categories are used too liberally for a blog, it can create something called “index bloat”. Index bloat means that when unnecessary and irrelevant pages are shown in Google, it will dilute the search performance of pages that actually matter (like service pages, for example). When a new blog category or tag is created, another page is created and indexed in Google. But are you really paying attention to the blog tag or category and how it relates to your business? Depending on how you’re using them, the blog and category pages may not offer people any value, meaning they probably shouldn’t be shown in Google, or better yet, exist at all.

How to Handle Blog Tags for Best SEO AND UX

To avoid index bloat, it’s ideal for SEO when you use minimal blog categories and tags. New websites should try to follow a simple blog tag and category structure. Websites with existing blogs with excessive amounts of blog tags and categories should address the issue, to determine the valuable ones to keep, and the worthless ones should be removed.

The next question is, how do you determine which blog categories and tags are valuable and which ones are worthless?

Guidelines for Blog Categories & Tags

Here are some questions to ask yourself on how to determine the SEO value of blog categories and tags.

  • Is there already a similar category or tag in existence? If there’s one similar tag or category already in existence, there’s no need for two. Instead of creating a new one, just use the current one.
  • Are the tags or categories related to what your company does? If they aren’t, the likelihood is low that someone will click on the tag or category.
  • Are you anticipating future blog posts will be tagged with this category or tag? If you’re not anticipating writing future blog posts, then it’s not worth creating. Ideally, tags and categories should offer value to readers by having multiple blog posts tagged.

By following the answers to the questions listed above, there should be fewer blog tags and categories, with more posts for each tag or category page. For blog that follow structures in the top part of the graphic below, there will be far too many categories and tags with just one blog post tagged. Instead, the blog structure should follow the bottom of the graphic – less (but more meaningful) blog tags and categories, with more blog posts tagged under each,

Optimize Your Blog Category Pages for SEO

Now that we’ve chosen only the blog categories and tags that matter, we can use these pages created to our advantage – by optimizing them for SEO.

Not many people know this, but you can actually edit tag and category pages in WordPress! By editing these pages, you can turn these pages into pillar pages. Pillar pages broadly cover a topic on a single page, with more in-depth reporting in more detailed from blog posts linked from that page that address a specific keyword for a more in-depth subtopic.

An Example of a Well-Optimized Blog Pillar Page Structure

Let’s put this into perspective. Below is an example of a fake printing company. The grey boxes are categories that target keywords that include “tips”. These keywords have 300-500 searches per month.

Underneath the categories are specific blog posts that fall in line with these broad categories. These specific blog posts are topics that have lower search volume than category landing pages – which is likely to happen in most pages.

How to Create Blog Category Pillar Pages (for WordPress)

If you go to”posts”, and then choose either “categories” or “tags” you’ll see the list of current tags and categories. If you click on one of those pages, you’ll be able to edit the title and add text to the page. Here’s your chance to use keywords you want to rank on!

In order to take full advantage of SEO for a blog category page, consider targeting keywords that includes “tips” (for instance, “marketing tips for small business”). After all, “tips” are (hopefully) what you aim to provide your readers. Be sure to add your keyword to the title and in the description you write, in addition to the page copy, and header.

Once these pages are optimized, it will look something my pillar category page for “SEO Tips for Small Businesses”:

Notice how on my blog, I’ve used “small business SEO tips” as the head keyword to target. Under the paragraph added are the blog posts I’ve published that relate to SEO small business tips.

Final Takeaways (TL;DR)

By getting rid of those useless blog categories and tags, you’ll put more emphasis on the tags and categories that matter to your business, and use them to your advantage. Just remember the following:

  • Strategically plan your blog categories and tags, and stick with them.
  • Make sure your blog categories and tags have keyword search volume.
  • Keep the # of blog categories and tags limited if you can.
  • Only use tags and categories topics that are relevant to your company.
  • Optimize your blog tag and category pages.
  • Consider targeting keywords that use the word “tips” for tag & category pages.

Congratulations on making it through the blog! You’ve reached the end, where I shamelessly plug my SEO services. Learn more about me, my SEO services, or contact me to set up a free 30-minute SEO meeting.

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