Think about your site like your car keys…
- You can either have a designated spot for them where they go every day.
- You can put them in a different place every day. Maybe leave them in the pants pocket from the day before. Sometimes in the fridge or in the lock on the outside of the door.
If you go with option one, it is almost impossible you will be late for work due to you couldn’t find your keys. Option two, there are going to be some days you will be rushed or late because it took too long to find what you needed. The worst-case scenario would be that you give up looking for your keys and take your wife’s copy (go to another similar site).
Taking the time to optimize your categories and tags is the WordPress equivalent of putting your keys in the same place every day.
Let’s break it down: Categories (Macro)
WordPress Categories are a way to organize all of your related posts in a searchable group. They are designed to get your audience and search engines to easily see similar things that you have done on the same topic.
You can use categories to feature posts all over your blog (main menu, sidebar). Your categories should be the “bullet points” of what you are looking to cover on your site.
Examples of Categories on this site:
Tags serve a very similar purpose to categories and I think that is why they are often overlooked. A tag is a more specific way to categorize your content (think hashtags on social media).
It is best to feature your tags in the sidebars of your posts.
How to Optimize your Categories & Tags
1. YOU MUST USE CATEGORIES & TAGS!!
Not only can not having categories & tags not boost your posts, but it can also actually hurt you. Search engines may actually rank you lower for not having or having inappropriate categories and tags. The best way in my opinion to avoid lower ranking is to not put anything as a tag or category that is not directly related to your topic.
2. Plan Before Publishing
Blogging is no different than any other business. The more you plan it out in the beginning, the better things will turn out in the end. If you change your categories well into your blog, you will also have to spend a lot of time making sure that all of your backlinks are updated. That is no process you want to go through if you can avoid it. The most often time you will have to do this is if you decide that you do not want to use a subcategory any more.
3. Category Names Should Say It All
To get the most out of your Categories, get to the root of the topic when naming them. Straight to the point with clear and descriptive names is the “secret recipe”. At first glance, your audience should be able to understand what it is. A great way to come up with your category and tag names is to reverse engineer.
After reading your post, if you were to search for something like that, what would you search for?
4. Keyword Due Diligence
The best way to solve that last question is to do as much keyword due diligence as you can. If you want to have a successful blog, you need traffic. To get traffic, it helps to design content around the words that people are already searching for.
If you can find out what they are looking for and then create the best possible content around those words and topics, you can win every time!
The only downside to keyword research is that there is typically a paywall in front of most of the good tools. There are some ways to still get free or cheap keyword research done. Google is, however, making many of them harder to access.
5. Singular vs Plural
This is one of the beginner questions of categories and tags but fairly so. The answer is really never been answered definitively that I have seen. Most resources I have read and viewed say that it is probably best to do a little of each.
- Do your research.
- Plan things out
- Always reverse engineer your results. Think as if you were the end-user of the experience.