How to use WordPress Categories for Better SEO

by Toby

September 16, 2022

Wordpress Categories for Better SEO

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) that helps millions of people create content and manage their websites. In addition to being user-friendly, WordPress offers a host of features that can help you improve your website's SEO

One such feature is the ability to organize your blog content using Categories. This blog post will discuss how you can use WordPress categories to improve your website's SEO and Usability. (a related post here on a WordPress Blog Post Workflow for Better SEO).

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What are WordPress Categories? 

Before we dive into how you can use categories to improve your SEO, let's briefly discuss what WordPress categories are and how they work. 

In short, categories are a way to organize your blog content. For example, let's say you have a blog about food. You might create categories for different types of food, like "Italian recipes," "Mexican recipes," and "Vegetarian recipes." Some in the industry might refer to these categories as content hubs or silos of related content.

Categories are used with WordPress posts, not pages. Pages are typically static and don't change much over time. Conversely, WordPress posts are typically more dynamic than pages, as they're intended to be published regularly and displayed in reverse chronological order. 

Why Use Categories? 

Two main reasons you should use categories on your WordPress website are improved navigation and improved SEO.

  • Improved Navigation
  • Better SEO

Let's take a closer look at each of these benefits in turn.

Improved Navigation 

As we mentioned earlier, one of the main benefits of using categories is that it helps your readers navigate your website more easily. When you have a lot of content on your website, it can be difficult for readers to find what they're looking for if everything is just lumped together under one giant heading. 

Here’s an example of categories I created on my site's blog. First, I have categories by digital marketing topic, and then by industry. 

Wordpress Category Example

WordPress Category Example

Wordpress Category Example

WordPress Category Example

By creating different categories and subcategories, you can help readers find the specific type of content they're looking for with just a few clicks. Not only does this make it easier for readers to find the content they want, but it also keeps them on your website longer—which increases the likelihood that you convert that traffic to a lead or sale! 

Categories Create Beneficial SEO Silos, Content Hubs

In addition to helping improve your website's navigation, using categories improves your SEO. One of the ways search engines index websites is by looking at the structure of the site. A well-organized website with clear category headers will be much easier for search engines to crawl and index than a site that just has one long list of blog posts under a single heading which is common with a blog roll (i.e., just a list of the blogs not segmented by anything other than date of publication).

Furthermore, when you use WordPress categories, each category page acts as its own individual landing page. That means that each category page has the opportunity to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). So, not only will using categories make it easier for search engines to index your site, but it will also give you more opportunities to rank in SERPs—which is good for business! 

How many WordPress Categories should I have?        

There's no hard-and-fast rule regarding how many WordPress categories you should have on your site, contrary to what you might read on the internet. However, if you have a large site covering many topics, then categorization is super helpful and important.

However, as a general rule of thumb, we recommend keeping things relatively tight when possible. But if you're producing content regularly on a particular topic and it doesn't belong in any current categories you have, then create a category for it. Make sure that whatever categories you create makes sense for readers and search engines! Larger categories can be further refined by creating sub-categories or using WordPress Tags. A WordPress tag is the next level down from a category in terms of hierarchy. I don't use Tags on my own website.

Here's an example on my site of the category Restaurant Digital Marketing. This category includes all the posts I have produced related to digital marketing in the restaurant niche. 

Restaurant Marketing WordPress Category

Restaurant Marketing WordPress Category

Restaurant Marketing WordPress Category

Restaurant Marketing WordPress Category

In comparison, here's an example of the SEO category on my site where all the posts are about SEO. Notice that my Restaurant SEO post is listed here too. So, all the posts in this category are not related by industry but instead by the topic of SEO. This type of organization helps both search engines and people. 

SEO WordPress Category

SEO WordPress Category

SEO WordPress Category

SEO WordPress Category

Tips for choosing effective WordPress categories:

  • Do some research: Before categorizing your posts, take some time to see what others in your field are doing. What kinds of categories are they using? Are there any common themes? Seeing what others are doing will give you a good starting point for choosing your categories.
  • Make a list: Once you've done some research, sit down and make a list of potential categories for your blog posts. At this point, don't worry about being too specific; write down every category that comes to mind. You can always narrow things down later. 
  • Be specific: Once you have a list of potential categories, it's time to start narrowing things down. When choosing categories for your blog posts, aim for specificity over generality. For example, let's say you're writing a post about marketing strategies for small businesses. A general category like "business" is fine, but a specific category like "marketing strategy" will be much more effective in terms of boosting your SEO. 
  • Use keywords wisely: As you probably know, keywords are an essential part of SEO. When choosing categories for your blog posts, try incorporating relevant keywords whenever possible. This will help boost your post's visibility in search engines. 
  • Don't be afraid to experiment: One of the great things about WordPress is that it's easy to change things up if something isn't working well. So, if you find that one of your chosen categories isn't doing much for your SEO, don't be afraid to switch things up and try something new. 

How many categories should a blog post be assigned to?

I read a post that stated you should only assign a blog post to one category. That is misguided advice. 

Categories are part of creating an effective silo strategy of related content. So, if a post is relevant to a couple of categories, it should be listed in both. Just as I had shown with my SEO and Restaurant Digital Marketing categories - I have a restaurant SEO post, and it is listed in the SEO category along with the Restaurant Digital Marketing category.

For example, in keeping with the cooking theme mentioned earlier, let’s assume one of your blog categories includes Italian Recipes. 

Conclusion

WordPress is an excellent content management system for building a website and publishing content. And by using its built-in category features you will make your blog more user friendly and searchable and improve your site's SEO in Google. 

Got more questions. Leave a comment below and I'll be happy to answer whatever questions you have. 

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Toby Danylchuk

I'm an open book with SEO and digital marketing and would love to learn more about your needs and how we can help you capture more leads. Just click the button below to find a time that works for you!

About the author 

Toby

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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