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).
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.
With a little bit of work you can create great resource pages for your major categories that would be of use to a searcher.
Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.