Why do WordPress site owners add so many Categories and Tags, it’s such a bad SEO idea, it’s a waste of their hard earned link benefit!

Going through about 30 domains I bought, all running WordPress and some have more categories and tags than actual WordPress Posts!!!

It’s ridiculous, I must have deleted over 150 categories from those domains because of over use of WordPress archiving, that’s not including the dozens of worthless monthly archives.

WordPress Categories SEO Advice

WordPress Categories SEO Advice

WordPress Categories SEO Advice

The best way to use WordPress is minimal categories/tags/archives, with WordPress Posts going in just ONE or TWO categories.

I don’t use tags because there’s no difference between a WordPress Tag and a WordPress Category, the format is pretty much identical.

Don’t do “this post can go in these 36 categories and 58 tags because more is great SEO”, this wastes lots of PageRank indexing webpages which will never generate any search engine traffic!

Avoid Single Keyword WordPress Tags

This website isn’t going to rank in the top 20 for the SEO search phrase via a WordPress Tag archive page called SEO.

If I had an SEO tag archive it wouldn’t pull in ANY traffic, but WOULD cost PageRank to keep it indexed in Google. Why would I spend valuable PageRank/link benefit on keeping a single keyword tag indexed when I could use that SEO resource on indexing/ranking an important WordPress Post?

If you don’t believe me and already have dozens of single keyword WordPress tags/categories, go spend 15 minutes looking through your Google Analytics traffic data. Do any of your single keyword tags have any Google SERPs, are they generating search engine traffic?

If not, delete them and 301 redirect the deleted URLs to the most relevant part of your website. This will save you a lot of wasted PageRank which will now be spent on more important content on your site. Feel free to send me a link or two to this site as a thanks. :-)

How Many WordPress Categories per Post?

Remember, more isn’t always better SEO, below is a screenshot of the WordPress Dashboard “Posts” >> “All Posts” screen for various WordPress Posts on this website, you can see NONE of the Posts have Tags and most Posts are only added to two categories.

For most WordPress Posts use ZERO Tags and just One or Two Categories

For most WordPress Posts use ZERO Tags and just One or Two Categories

Good WordPress SEO Advice: for most WordPress Posts use ZERO Tags and just One or Two Categories.

Note: For most websites adding a WordPress Post to a single Category is more than enough for Googlebot to find a Post, that’s all a Post NEEDS in archiving terms.

For those who silo SEO their content, adding WordPress Posts to only one category makes link siloing so much easier. The fewer categories a Post is added to, the more niched/siloed it will be.

There’s over 200 WordPress Posts on this website (and a few static Pages), only a few are in more than two categories and there are ZERO tags.

Googlebot (Google’s search engine spider) has no problem at all fully spidering and indexing this website and ranking it for relevant search phrases. One WordPress category for each Post is more than enough as long as a category doesn’t paginate too deep.

Paginated WordPress Categories SEO

To keep the link juice flowing smoothly on relatively small sites try to keep the number of posts in a category to 10 or less so you don’t get too many Category/Tag page 2, page 3 etc… (this assumes you have kept the number of Posts per category to the default 10) because it means the Posts archived on category page 2/3 etc… are barely getting any link benefit: not a lot of PageRank flows through category/tag pages 2, 3, 4 etc…

For larger websites try to keep to under 20 Posts per category, it all depends on the number of Posts on the entire website and the number of WordPress categories. Larger a site more Posts you might need to add to a category OR consider more categories with tighter niches: basically as a website grows add more categories to further niche the archives.

Adding tighter niches is another way to silo SEO your website.

What I mean by tighter niches:

If I only had one Yoast WordPress SEO Tutorial I couldn’t really have a Yoast WordPress SEO Tutorial category, it would only have one Post within it. As a website grows look for tighter niches via new categories.

If you stick to these loose WordPress SEO rules there’s very little wasted link benefit (PageRank) and most Posts get a fair amount of link benefit and are easily found by Google and your visitors.

Try to avoid WordPress setups with categories with only 3 Posts and other categories with over 30 Posts, the category with 30 Posts are not getting their fair share of SEO link benefit!

Many webmasters believe only backlinks from external domain have SEO value, this isn’t true, webpages can be ranked high in Google only from internal backlinks. Generally speaking easier it is to get to a webpage from the home page (fewest clicks away from home) more internal link benefit that webpage will receive and more likely it will rank in Google.

Remember every webpage on a website that’s linked uses link benefit (uses valuable PageRank), if a site has 30 posts and 30 categories/tags because the way WordPress links webpages together (priority goes to categories/tags) most of your link benefit never finds it’s way to the WordPress Posts.

WordPress Category SEO Damage

Take a look at a selection of your WordPress sites webpages (look at a Post, a category/tag, home page etc…) most will have all the categories linked, all tags linked and if you use monthly archives (PLEASE DON’T, MONTHLY ARCHIVES TOTAL WASTE OF SEO LINK BENEFIT) the latest 12 months linked as well.

What you won’t find is a complete list of all WordPress Posts (unless it’s a small website), you might have the 10 recent articles, 10 popular articles, 10 recent comments.

If you have a site with 300 posts and 50 categories/tags (you haven’t followed my earlier SEO advice on limiting categories) you might only have the recent 10 posts linked from the home page, but you will have all 50 categories/tags and the monthly archives (62 archive links sitewide).

This will allow search engine spiders multiple routes to your content, but at a huge SEO cost, the archive sections of your website will gain much more link benefit than the actual Posts! Before your important content (Posts) get their link benefit your over use of categories and tags has wasted over half of it!

How to mitigate the SEO damage.

In an ideal SEO world a WordPress site would have no archives at all, and every WordPress Post would be linked from the home page, so they all get a fair share of PageRank. That’s possible with small websites with below 30 Posts, but once you start to go above 50 Posts you have to use archives (categorisation), we can’t have a 300 Post website with everything interlinked.

By following my earlier advice to cut categories/tags back to a minimum, delete the monthly archives widget completely (calendar widget is even worse, ditch it) you could reduce the categories/tags to 20 to 25 archives so we only have 20-25 category links sitewide rather than 62.

Still 25 sitewide category links is a lot of links and not only does this cost a lot of link benefit, it’s damaging any Silo SEO linking Structure you might be working on.

You can further limit the amount of link benefit your categories consume. If you look on this sites home page just above the footer you will find a categories widget with less than 30 categories. Look at the same footer area on this Post you are on now, no categories widget!

Display Widgets Plus Plugin

Display Widgets Plus Plugin

I use a display widget feature to decide which parts of a website a widget should be shown on. For this website I have the categories set to display on the home page and home page archives ONLY. This means the categories widget does NOT show on Posts or Static Pages (or Stallion SEO Super Comments Pages: another Stallion feature that generates pages from comments).

The category widgets links are only loaded on one important page (the home page) of the site.

Individual categories are still linked from within Posts (see where the article date is: this is a good silo SEO link, it’s related to the content), so categories are still well linked, but no where near as much as if I didn’t use the display widget feature.

For example if a category has 12 posts within it, the category will have a further 12 links from those 12 posts, so the category would have around 42 internal links. More posts within a category, more internal links it will have.

Since this site is well commented and I use the Stallion SEO Super Comments feature and the SEO Super Comments link back to the post the comment is on, you will find the posts with a lot of comments have significantly more internal links than the category the post is in.

David Law

David Law : Technical SEO Expert with 20+ years Online Business, SEO, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing experience... Creator of multiple WordPress SEO Themes and SEO Plugins. Interests: wildlife, walking, environmental issues, politics, economics, journalism, consumer rights.

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