WordPress is a great CMS and sitebuilder, but one area it can fall a little short is its interstitial pages that are designed to help you navigate a site’s posts via category, author or even date. WordPress automatically generates archive pages for each of these grouping mechanisms, but from the SEO perspective these pages fall a little short in providing unique content that the search engines love.
Search engines such as Google want to see pages that have content that can’t be found anywhere else on the site (or in fact elsewhere on the internet). But WordPress’s default archive pages just show a list of posts for that given category (or author). If the blogger has used the “more” tag, then the post’s content is shown on the archive page up to the tag, otherwise the post is shown in it’s entirety. Either way there is no new content on the page that isn’t already on on the individual post pages. Today we are going to look at ways to modify your WordPress category page to be more SEO friendly.
Our goal is to add unique content to our WordPress category pages or at least remove the duplicated content. To do this you have a couple of options at your disposal.
- Write manual excerpts for your posts and show them on your category pages. This takes work and commitment but if you make it a practice it does have payoffs. One benefit is you can put your sales copywriter hat on and create little elevator pitches for your post that entice people to click through to your post page. If you don’t see the excerpt field when you write your post you can enable it in your screen options.
- Have the category page just show the post titles. This is a good option if you don’t want to go the manual excerpt route.
- Add unique content for each category page. One way to do is in fill in the category description field and alter your theme to show it on the category page.
In earlier posts, I had walked through how I had altered my theme to have my category pages show the manual excerpts and the category description. If you are comfortable editing code, you can use these posts as a guide. I would also advise reading the Category template codex.Allergic to code? There’s a plugin for that.
A lot of people are not interested in hacking their theme like I am. Now there is an alternative in a new plugin “WP Custom Category Pages”. Developed by Geoff Kenyon of Distilled, this plugin has a couple of cool features you can use to make your site’s category pages SEO friendly:
- Ability to customize the page title and meta description. This doesn’t quite work for me yet, but Geoff is working on having it work for all themes.
- Custom headlines. I love this feature. Write your own custom SEO friendly headlines to replace the one generated for you by your theme.
- Unique content. Add your own unique content for each category page. Check out how I added a link to my category page, which would have been tricky to do using the category description.
- Remove snippets. Since most bloggers don’t write custom excerpts, removing the snippets will remove the duplicate content from your category pages. In the future Geoff will provide an option to turn the snippets on for those of us that want them. One thing about just showing the post titles is that more of them fit on a page so there is less pagination.
It’s still early days for this plugin, but I just installed the latest version (1.20) and it is working quite a bit better than the earlier one. See my screenshot above. Give it a try on your site.
Thanks for sharing my plugin. While the title only works with some themes, the plugin works well with Yoast WP SEO which will let you edit the page title.
indeed WordPress SEO by Yoast does allow you to customize the page title for category pages – Thanks for the comment!