What You Need to Know About Categories and Tags When Blogging & SEO

Using categories and tags seems easy, but it is actually a bit tricky to use them the right way for SEO.  Some SEOs tell you to have no index on your tags and categories pages.  Other’s like me actually rank very well by properly using them.  Idiot SEOs (at least in my opinion) will use a ton of them, load your post with keyword stuffed ones and have general ones on every post.  Smart SEOs (again just my opinion) will follow the guides I wrote about0 in my learn how to blog post.  So why am I writing about categories and tags and SEO?  Because one of the first things you can do to help your site’s health is to clean them up and then properly categorize everything.  After that you can fix your internal linking structure and pagination issues, then your site will be in much better health.

What Blogging Categories and Tags Mean and Are Used For.

  • Categories – categories are there for you to place your main topic of the post into the most relevant category.  If you don’t have a relevant one, leave it without or have a General one.  If your post is about Video Marketing Tools for Short Film Producers, do not create a ton of categories for this post.  Choose one like Video Marketing.  You could always have a secondary category later called Video Marketing Tools.  You do not want to use more than 3 for a post or have 8 categories total.
  • Tags – Tags should be the main themes of the post.  Do not make them too long and make sure they are very niche for the articles topics.  You also want to make sure you only use relevant ones for your post.  If your post is about Video Marketing Tools for Short Film Producers, Marketing is to general, Video Marketing isn’t relevant, but Video Marketing Tools could be perfect because it is niche enough.  You don’t want to use more than 3 and at the most 5 tags and if you always use the same three together you’ll have duplicate content issues and need to add in canonical links and remember which posts to use as you have new ones on those tags.

How to use categories and tags when blogging.

Now that you know what everything is, here is how to use categories and tags when blogging for SEO and user experience.

1.  Choose 8 generic categories that can cover everything.  Keeping your categories relevant and general enough will help keep your site look clean and let the links on the post pass a ton of juice.  The more inbound links on a page, the less authority they can pass.  Choose just one category for your post, unless the post is a perfect fit for someone looking for that specific topic.  If you mention SEO but the post is about XYZ, don’t put it in the SEO category.  It has to be relevant to your readers or else they will leave, not share your post, link to your post (if they are a blogger or journalist) and probably not come back to your site.  When your categories rank in the search engines, if there are random posts that only have one or two slightly relevant parts about that category, you have created a negative user experience and that negative experience could cause the person to leave.

2.  Tags and SEO.  You have to keep your tags extremely relevant and you want to remember the ones you want to rank for keywords.  Tags create their own series of pages based off of a theme or keyword theme.  If you use a tag on a post that isn’t part of that theme, does not have the keywords from the tag inside the post and it isn’t relevant content wise for the end user, there is no reason for Google to show it and absolutely no reason for a user to stay, read, join your newsletter, shop or share the post.  The main thing to think about is if you use Blue widget XXX for XXX as a tag, make sure it is in the post and repeated in the post to show relevance for Google.  You then want to read the post and make sure it is also relevant for that topic.  Make sure it is in your H tags and that it is important.  This will now pull a page in your site when Google crawls your tag that will show every post that has already been written (or however many you have set it show in your settings for search, tag and category results) and you have content that is relevant for the keyword phrase, about different topics within it, and if you optimized the posts the right way, and information that can rank for those terms.  That is why it is important to be careful with your tags.  If someone looking for that term doesn’t find anything relevant because you are overusing tags because they are slightly relevant, you just lost a sale, a visitor, a possible backlink, etc…

Tags and categories are important for SEO when blogging.  You need to make sure you don’t overuse them or use them incorrectly, and you need to make sure the posts are relevant for the categories and phrases you use.  If you don’t want to have them rank, you can use robots.txt or no index to block them from Google. This will help you fix any confusion you have.   However, this could also stop you from getting a ton of really great traffic and rankings.  Some people no index them but I always like to let them get crawled.  Feel free to leave your own opinions in the comments section on how to use categories or tags when blogging and what you do with your own sites.

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