Editor note: “Ask an SEO” is a monthly column by technical SEO expert Jenny Halasz. Come up with your hardest SEO question and fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Our question today comes from Nikos, who asks:
Category and tag pages are considered “weak” in SEO since they have very little content. Normally they have image thumbnails with a “Read More” link. How can we optimize these types of pages to increase their organic visibility?
I’m assuming you’re talking about category and tag pages like you’d find on a blog (like WordPress). Where all it really provides is a repeat of all the information available elsewhere on the site in a re-organized way.
I think where people go wrong most often is having too many categories or tags. You want your categories and tags to be mutually exclusive. In other words, you don’t want category=blue widgets and tag=blue widgets.
There are a few things you can do to make these more valuable and therefore more useful to search engines and their visitors:
- Define them carefully. Set some plan in place and stick to it. Maybe categories will be intent based (like News, Fashion, and Promotions) and tags will be product based, like dresses and shoes. Whatever you decide, just make sure they serve different purposes.
- Choose nomenclature that is inclusive rather than exclusive. Try to limit tags to just one per topic, and only 2-3 per post. In other words, you wouldn’t tag a single article with “dresses”, “summer dresses”, and “sleeveless dresses”. You’d just tag it with “dresses”, and maybe “sleeveless” or “summer”.
- Provide some summary or description of what’s in each category or tag page. For the category page, maybe you can have a description of the category appear on the page along with a few featured posts on that topic and some pins on that topic from your Pinterest account. The idea is to make the page a hub of information on a specific topic, beyond just a relisting of posts in that category. It should be the same with tag pages.
If this is more effort than you’re willing to give, then just noindex them.
Category and tag pages aren’t duplicate content per se, but they do waste crawl budget (the time search engines spend on your website gathering information), especially if you have thousands of similarly tagged or categorized pages.
If you can’t see a reason why someone would bookmark your category or tag page to refer back to, then it’s unlikely a search engine is going to want to send people there.
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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita