It’s the 6th day of the Bloggiesta and I’m only just checking in with an update but I’ve been so busy behind the scenes!
I decided to take part in the ‘Labels, Categories and Tags, Oh My!’ mini challenge hosted by Berls @ Because Reading. Here is a brief description of the challenge:
For this Bloggiesta mini-challenge you will pick one set of labels, categories, or tags and organize them! Take a screenshot if you like or simply describe what you did somewhere – share a link on twitter (tag it with #bloggiesta), in our Facebook group, or even Instagram.
Berls explains why it’s important to have a well-organised blog structure and she outlines how to clean up your labels, categories and tags step-by-step.
My categories and tags were an absolute mess! In my nine years of blogging I have been creating tags all over the place with wild abandon and not really thinking about the SEO consequences. I had many tags that were duplicated with slightly different spellings or only linked to one post, which is no good at all! And when I switched to WordPress I created a bunch of random categories because I didn’t know how they worked. I had over 50! Yes, I was confusing them with tags and didn’t have a clue how to make the most of them.
This challenge really inspired me to get my act together and I did some research into best practice for tags and categories and how they relate to SEO. My disorganised taxonomies (I learnt a new word!) have surely been making my site more confusing for search engine bots to read and less likely to drive traffic to the right places. So I have been working on organising them all for the past three evenings-it seemed to take forever!
Here’s what I did (WordPress self-hosted blog):
- First, I wrote a list of the main categories I would need for my blog. I started with about 40 and narrowed it down to four ‘parent’ categories: BOOKS, CREATIVE HOBBIES, LIFESTYLE and FEATURES. Using ‘quick edit’, I changed them to all uppercase so they would stand out.
- I then chose some subcategories and using ‘edit’ I opened each one and selected a parent category for it. For example, ‘Baking’ and ‘Arts & Crafts’ both went under the ‘CREATIVE HOBBIES’ category.
- Instead of deleting my surplus categories straight away, I wanted to make sure I tagged them properly so they were still linked together, so I added an ‘X’ to the end of each one I wanted to delete.
- I kept my list of categories open in one tab and opened my list of posts in another. I filtered down to each category with an ‘X’ in turn, and then using ‘bulk edit’ I tagged all posts in that category with the relevant tags and put them in the proper categories. For example, I tagged all posts in my old ‘Valentines Day’ category with ‘valentines day’ and ‘romance’ tags and put them all in the ‘Events’ category.
- I then deleted all the defunct ‘X’ categories, knowing they were still linked together with tags.
- On the Tags page, using ‘quick edit’, I changed all the tags to lowercase and made sure they were all spelt correctly.
- I repeated steps 3 and 4 for my tags. This was a bit trickier, as there is no drop-down list of tags in the post view that you can filter by. Instead, I had to either click the tag itself to bring up a list of those posts or (from the tags section) click where it displays the number of posts. I also had a lot of tags to get through-I had over 200 which I narrowed down to 158. I merged any that only covered a few posts.
- I went through all my categories and added a brief description (this will display on the category archive page) and a focus keyword (using Yoast plugin).
- I then updated my navigation bar with links to the new categories.
Phew! It took a long time but I think it will be worth it. What do you think? *Nudges category archive in the left sidebar*. The only thing I need to do now is to check for and fix any broken internal links and set up 301 redirects using the Redirection plugin to avoid 404 errors.
My main tips for others:
- If you’re just starting out, organise your tags and categories well now to save yourself lots of time later!
- Categories should be the main, broad topics of your blog and tags should have a narrower, specific focus. Think of categories as the chapters of a book and tags like index entries.
- You shouldn’t have too many categories (aim for around 10), but you can have lots of tags.
- Categories should be clear and descriptive, tags can be more fun and can include hashtags or slang, e.g. #ownvoices, LMAO.
- Categories should generally start with an uppercase letter, while tags should be lowercase. This is so readers and bots alike can distinguish between the two and it also makes it easier for search engines to link your tags with the keywords in the body of your post.
- Make sure every post has a category (ideally just one, three max) and at least one tag.
- Any posts you add to a sub-category will automatically appear on the parent category page, you do not have to add them to both.
- Try not to have tags that are so similar that they will bring up the same list of posts-search engines may count this as duplicate content and it could harm your SEO.
- Categories vs Tags – SEO Best Practices for Sorting your Content
- How to Clean up Your WordPress Tags
- Using Category and Tag Pages for SEO
Before you go…
How do you organise your categories and tags? Let me know in the comments!