If your website is running on WordPress platform, I would rather you read this post.
While WordPress is the most popular CMS owing to the flexibility and functionality it offers, it does need quite a few tweaks during installation if you’re focused on improving the SEO value of your website.
Some of the most important elements in WordPress are Category and Tags.
They impact the overall URL structure of your website.
When you create a post and categorize it to specific predefined category, the post essentially creates two different URLs, not one.
For example, if I write a post on “How to Create a Website”, the URL slug might look something like this: www.yourwebsite.com/blog/how-to-create-a-website
Assuming I categorize it under predefined category named “wordpress”, then the category URL will look like something like this: yourwebsite.com/blog/category/wordpress
Similarly, thanks to WordPress, the same post will create some other URLs such as:
Author Archive URL: yourwebsite.com/author/glen
Tag Archive URL: yourwebsite.com/tag/website
Date Archive URL: yourwebsite.com/date/year/month
Now if you’re optimizing your WordPress website for Google Search, then the default WordPress setting would allow Google to crawl and index both URLs.
While helping improve your experience of your visitors by letting them find pages in more than one way is a google idea, this usually is a bad SEO for two different reasons.
So what are those reasons?
When you write a post on a specific topic, you definitely want the post to rank higher up in Google’s SERPs. But the truth is you end up forcing your post URL compete against some unwanted URLs arising out of Category archives, Author archives, Tag archives and Date archives.
If you think about it for a while, you definitely don’t want to Google to index any of those URLs apart from the post URLs. If you do, you’re essentially letting your post URL compete against those URLs within your website itself.
When Google usually crawls the URLs of a WordPress website, it generally looks at the possibility of duplicate pages that are pretty identical to each other. Then it also looks for URLs that have links from both internal and external sources as well.
In such a scenario, the category URL wins the race since it is linked from multiple post URLs. However, there are exceptions to this scenario. For example, if your individual posts are linked from a couple of high quality and authority sources from the Internet via backlinks, then those posts will almost always rank higher than category, tags, author, or archive URLs.
You can learn more about this argument here.
Category and Tag Archives Create Duplicate Content Issues
Not writing unique excerpts for individual posts is quite prevalent as a practice among many SEOs. When you leave the excerpt blank or fill it in with a portion from the article itself, it shows up in category archives and leads to duplicate content issues. Whether you do it for SEO or not, it’s always recommended you should always write unique, short and compelling excerpt for each post in your blog.
But, this is not a solution to the above scenario. You should still no-index your category archives for the aforementioned reasons.
What about WordPress Tags?
In case of tags, the situation is even worse. Unlike categories, there is no way you can write unique descriptions or excerpts to avoid the duplicate content issues created under Tag URLs. Therefore, they will hurt your SEO just as badly.
Dan Shure has written a great post on why you should no-index your tag archive in WordPress websites.
This is exactly what motivates many SEO experts to recommend no-indexing archives and allow only posts URLs to be indexed by Google spiders. If nothing else, at least this will not force your posts to compete against archives unnecessarily.
But how do you no-index archives if you’re not into coding?
Luckily, there is a great WordPress plugin that can help you achieve this among many other things.
Yes, you’re darn right – I’m talking about Yoast SEO plugin.
The plugin allows you to tweak different properties in your WordPress website and improve the performance of your website from SEO perspective.
A Case Study on WordPress Category
While doing research on the top rankings pages in Google Webmaster Tools, I found that some categories archives in the blog have higher impressions but very little to no conversions.
The number of impressions on the category archive URL was 5,986, the second only to the home page URL which had 9,585. However, understandably, while the home page URL had 600 clicks (CTR 6%), the category archive had no clicks at all (CRT 0%).
This could be seriously hurting the SEO performance of my client’s website in two ways:
When a Page has High Impressions but Low Clicks (CTR)
As per Neil Patel, a website can witness drop in its search engine rankings when Google finds pages that have higher number of impressions but lower CTR. In plain English, Google assumes those pages carry decreasing relevance to searchers and thus they are getting lower clicks. You can read his post here. This will lead to a drop in the page’s relevancy for Google. Since Google cares a lot about improving user experience, pages with increasingly negative CTR and bounce rate will lose their trust in the eyes of Google. Eventually, the pages will not only lose their ranks to the competing pages but witness a decrease in their PageRank as well.
There’s Little Conversion on Archives
By allowing our categories and tag archives to be indexed by Google, we essentially make it hard for our main posts to rank higher than the categories pages. This is something we have already discussed earlier in this post.
A case study by Dan Shure (read his post suggested above) proves that category and tag archives don’t really lead to conversion. Well, it’s not hard to imagine why a visitor wouldn’t practically take any positive action when the landing page has experts from random posts. It will rather confuse the visitors and prompt them to bounce off. Therefore, it will also lead to increase in the bounce rate of your WordPress blog as well.
Let me know what you think.