Make Your Category Pages Index Worthy

My post where I stated that I have noindex my category pages attracted some attention. I guess I’m not too surprised, it’s not a common recommendation. I’ve seen people recommend using the read more tag, excerpts and to adopt a practice of using one category per post. This is all good advice if you keep your category pages indexed. Replicating the full post on your category page is duplicate content you want to avoid, and excerpts are a great way to populate your category page with some unique content. Additionally not using multiple categories on your posts will keep the proliferation of the post content to a minimum.

But I took it further and just noindexed the category pages and I would argue that many bloggers should do the same. Why? And should you take my advice?

First let’s revisit why I recommend this in the first place. The goal of Google and the other search engines is to deliver the most relevant and interesting results for a given query. So in many cases you’d rather have one of your posts presented as a choice for the searcher. In the theme I’m using now, Vigilance, the category (and the tag pages) are just lists of posts titles (see below).

Webenso SEO Category Page

Now ask yourself, is this really a useful page for a searcher? My answer was no. It might be useful if the site visitor wants to browser more of my SEO posts, but if you were searching for the definitive guide to SEO, this might be a bit of a disappointment. If more content was included it might be better, but again it’s likely that a individual post would be chosen by Google as a better resource.

But, I can just hear you saying, I want an overall page on SEO (or whatever your topic is), I want to show the searcher a great page that has lots of interesting posts for them to explore. Great. You can do that. Here are a couple of steps to make your category pages worthy of indexing. Note that these are very dependent on the WordPress theme you are using and you might need to either change themes or roll up your sleeves and dive into some code.

  1. Show a category description: When you create your WordPress Categories, there is a description field you can optionally fill in. Many themes do not show this field, but some do (Thesis is a notable example). A unique description for your category page not only help establishes your page as a index worthy resource page, but also can give your site visitor an overview of the posts and the best way to read through them.
  2. WordPress Category Description

  3. Use manual excerpts: Instead of having your theme show the full posts on your category page (or the first bit up to the more tag), craft unique excerpts for each posts. Your first paragraph is not always a great representation of the post, create a nice little summary of the post and highlight the benefits for the user to click through it. Again, many themes do not show the excerpts but this is not too hard to change, here’s my post on using excerpts

With a little bit of work you can create great resource pages for your major categories that would be of use to a searcher.

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a traffic and conversion expert specializing in SEO, Copywriting and Facebook Ad Campaigns. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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3 comments
zlara says December 20, 2012

Hi,

While looking for information about category issue I have I came across your site and hope you now the answer. I am new in WPress and when I post a gallery in the category box I had four digit number “1742” instead of the category name that I had chose. I probably made some mistake but don’t know where. Hope you can help me to fix the problem.

Thank you,
Zlara

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Steve says March 21, 2013

Indexing of category page is important for sites like coupon sites that keep updating coupons of a particular category. However, there is a risk of penalization by google.

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Kathy Alice says March 21, 2013

Steve what Google penalty are you thinking of? Duplicate content? That was the point of this post – how to add unique content to your category pages so they wouldn’t be treated as duplicate content by Google.

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