Prior to joining Wakefly and becoming a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist, I owned and operated a blog for approximately three years. This was an amazing experience where I not only got to watch and cover my favorite sport (hockey), but I also had the fortune to step foot in the (Bruins) locker rooms and interview players post game.
Having been so caught-up in the unforgettable moments—and focusing on writing great content—I didn’t really pay too much attention to the (WordPress) blog’s features and all of the important stuff under-the-hood. After a few months of operation, I befriended an SEO Specialist from Colorado for some advice. After one phone conversation with him and a free analysis of my site, I knew I was in for an uphill battle as I was missing out on some crucial areas—from technical redirects and permalinks to proper categorization of my posts.
A few months ago, I wrote a top-10 to-do checklist on semrush.com for all WordPress owners who are about to embark on writing a blog of their own—whether it be for personal use or to be integrated as a content creation, SEO strategy—prior to going live. There I referenced many things from technical (redirects) to user-interface/experience (infographics) and categories and tags. Here I want to dive deeper – strictly into proper categorization.
Time and time again, I continue to see blogs not leveraging or using categories and tags properly. Tags slowly overlap and become categories over time, blog posts that contain no tags or categories are indexed under the useless ‘Uncategorized’, or have a laundry-list of categories that take up half of the right sidebar. The main idea behind categories and tags is to organize your posts, make for a better user experience, and for search engines. I like to think of it as creating a well-organize recipe book. Sure, you could throw all of the yellow sticky notes, index cards, and printed recipes into a book or binder, but searching for a specific dish is going to be tough weeks and months down the road.
While most website have—or should have—an internal search bar to make navigation to a specific page or topic simpler, each blog post should be categorized and tagged correctly. For instance, if I were running a blog all about Mexican foods (my favorite) and recipes, then I would want to make sure that I think about the architecture of my posts and how each would be indexed before going live. An internal site search would do the trick, but to think all users will rely on the method is not very practical.
While many dishes can be categorized under several keywords (Gazpacho –> Breakfast –> Appetizers –> Salads (the papaya fruit salad Gazpacho, not the cold soup)), we want to make sure that the categories are a broad description of the post, while tags can be used more granularly to describe the specifics. The following examples would be a good start in choosing the right categories, and then tagging those accordingly.
Category example for Mole Sauce: “Sauces”.
Tags: “Condiments”, “Boiling” (it may be a good idea to allow the user to sort by cooking methods/techniques).
Category for Tres Leches cake: “Desserts”.
Tags: “Cakes”, “Baking”.
Category for Huevos Rancheros: “Breakfast”.
Tags: “Eggs” (popular main ingredients allows users to view more egg recipes), “Beans”, “Tortillas”, “Sauté”.
Category for Fish Tacos: Lunch, Dinner (an instance where two categories would be acceptable)
Tags: “Fish” (Specifically Tilapia or type of fish), “Tortillas”, “Baking” (can often be fried—hence a good idea to add cooking techniques)
Once your short list of categories are set and blogs begin to be published, the category link can also be used to create a better user experience and influence click-through. (“If you liked this blog post and topic, read more here…”) In the examples above, Maybe Huevos Rancheros is too difficult or takes too long to prepare, but the user really wants to grab a Mexican breakfast recipe with eggs as the main ingredient. Here’s the opportunity—when tagged correctly—to allow the visitor to easily click on the ‘eggs’ tag and view more recipes where eggs are the main ingredient. Similarly to the Fish Tacos recipe, perhaps the user realizes that he/she doesn’t have the right ingredients in house, but really wants a Mexican dish made with white fish. Voila! This helps the user navigate throughout your blog without needing another Google search.
There is nothing more powerful for SEO than producing fresh content through an on-site blog. Leverage its power and limit all blog post to one (1) category, but no more than two (2). When constructed and categorized correctly, watch as each post and category can be serious ranking potential for your website.