While I rarely recommend using tags on a WordPress website – I cannot say enough about how important WordPress categories are.
If you are a new to WordPress or are kind of confused about all the options – this guide on managing post archives may be helpful to get you started.
By utilizing your category pages in a well thought out manner you can gain SEO benefits and give your readers the best experience which in turn can improve page views and time on site which can all help your overall search engine rank.
Below I am going to walk you through everything you need to know about creating categories, optimizing categories and even deleting categories!
What Are WordPress Categories?
Categories are used to organize your posts so your readers can have a clear structure for finding the content they are interested in the most.
While categories are most commonly associated with blogging – we have also used them quite a bit in creative ways for nonprofit and business websites as well.
You can create parent categories – with child categories and even place posts in multiple categories to ensure that you create a structure that is user friendly. I do not recommend placing posts in multiple categories as it may affect your SEO efforts – but it can be done if you need to. I will discuss this more below.
How To Create New Categories
Before you begin adding new categories – be sure you have a general idea of the categories you want to add. A little keyword research may help you better understand how your users may search and query their information.
Once you have your categories outlined you can add them by doing the following steps.
- Go to POSTS > CATEGORIES in your WordPress admin
- Enter your category name in the NAME field
- In the slug field you can enter a preferred slug for the category name – if you do not add a slug one will be auto created for you. I prefer to customize mine and suggest you do too
- If you want it to be a child category of another category then select the PARENT CATEGORY
- You can leave description blank
- Click ADD NEW CATEGORY and it will show in your category list
Below is an example of one I created called My New Category Name. You can see in the slug I just used “new-category” to keep it short and sweet. The slug should be as short as possible and if you can use a keyword then definitely do!
Why Your Category Names Matter
This is the top issue we consistently see with websites – poor category naming.
Deciding on your category names is one of the most critical parts of proper structure and hierarchy – allow yourself enough time to really think through this process!
When deciding what to use as a category name – do some research!
- Find what terms are being searched and look at the results that are being returned.
- Do not create a category that you may only have 1 or 2 posts in, that is NOT adding value to a visitor.
- See what your competitors are using to get some inspiration.
Is There A Recommended Amount of Categories?
While there is no right or wrong for the amount of categories you use I do recommend limiting them to keep your users from being overwhelmed.
If you think through your categories carefully you should be able to keep it to about 10-15 well-organized categories.
NEVER duplicate categories (or tags) – make sure your slug and name are completely unique.
What About Subcategories?
If you have a large content website – then of course you can and should use subcategories. But user them carefully and do not overdue it.
As an example we can do a top category called SEO Tips & Tricks – then actually add subcategories like Blogger SEO Tips, Ecommerce SEO Tips, Business SEO Tips.
If it makes sense use them! But again, do NOT have a subcategory that is the same as a top category – this will dilute your SEO and make your user confused.
What About Tags?
We do not use or recommend tags – unless you are a large content site that has a CLEAR tagging strategy.
If you do use tags they should make sense and be limited and no-indexed!
What About Category Content Length?
Typically on the category page you will have a specific amount of content show for each post then a read more link to show the first article.
There is no “right” or “wrong” with how much content to show – but we do think a fair amount of content is needed to ensure the search engines understand what the category page is about.
We typically show about 300 – 500 words then the read more.
If the blog has strong imagery – we will also add a featured image.
This setting is usually in your theme settings somewhere!
Making Pretty Category Pages
The content is only part of the battle for a great category page the next step is to make them unique and offer value for your readers. Our SEO category pages tutorial will help you take the next step to category success!
Go to a category page on your own website – what do you think of it?
- Is it engaging?
- Do the posts relate to the category?
- Is there only 1 post or is there 10 posts?
Have your friends and family give you HONEST feedback so you can improve your category pages!
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