233 How to Use WordPress Categories and Tags for Maximum Impact

By Leslie Samuel | Content Creation

Oct 07

Do you have a strategy for your categories and tags in WordPress?

Are you making your categories and tags up as you go?

In this post, you will learn a clear strategy for creating a content structure that delivers value to your audience and sets you up for success

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Unorganized WordPress Categories and Tags

If you’re anything like me, you started your blog and just focused on creating content.

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WordPress Categories and Tags

You chose a topic that you were passionate about and went full speed ahead.

The problem: A few years down the line you look back at your content only to realize that there's no sensible structure to how everything's laid out.

It's kinda like writing a book with no chapters and headings.

That's never good.

A few months back, I got an interesting email. I tried finding it again, but it seems I deleted it.

Here’s the essence of what it said:

I was interested in purchasing your product, but decided not to for one reason – Your own blog is so difficult to navigate that it didn’t seem like you could teach me much.

At first I brushed it off, saying to myself – “Whatever, it doesn’t matter what that one person thought”.

However, deep down inside, I knew it was true.

As much as I understood what it takes to structure a blog correctly, my blog content was the result of years of creating content without fully thinking about the structure I wanted my blog to have after 5 or even 10 years.

Categories and Tags

Before we dive into how to structure your categories and tags, let's start by defining them:

  • Categories are a way of broadly grouping your related posts together so that your blog visitors can get a general idea of what a piece of content is about.
  • Tags are similar to categories except for one simple distinction – they describe your posts into more detail.

Allow me to illustrate with an example:

Food_Blogger

Food Blogger Extraordinaire

Let's say you’re a food blogger extraordinaire (like a number of other Become A Blogger readers) and a major part of what you do is post recipes.

You may have categories such as “Entrees”, “Desserts”, “Breakfast”, “Lunch” and “Dinner”.

Your tags might be things like “Chicken”, “Chocolate”, “Peanuts”, “Pasta” and “Broccoli”.

See what I did there? I used these two levels of organization to group my recipes in a way that makes my content easy to navigate.

A reader can easily go to the desserts category and see all of your desserts, some of which may contain chocolate or peanuts.

If that reader is a peanut lover (not me since I’m allergic to peanuts), they can see your entrees, desserts, breakfast, lunch and dinner items that contain peanuts.

They can go on a peanut binge, all because you took the time to think about how to serve them as well as possible

By thoughtfully using your categories and tags, you can really do a lot to help your audience find EXACTLY what they are looking for.

The end result – They love you and want more of your content, and yes – we all love to be loved.

Structuring Your Categories and Tags

Over the last few weeks, I've been working on a plan to reorganize my content, both in my Become a Blogger Coaching Club (more on this soon) and on this blog.

Step #1: Ask This Important Question

As bloggers, there's a very important question that we should always ask ourselves: How can I make it easier for my ideal target person to find my content?

Said another way: How can I best serve my audience?

This is the question I've asked myself many times over the last few weeks as I try to get a better handle of the kind of content I create on this blog.

Ask yourself this question.

When thinking about the categories and tags you want to cover, think about each potential category, think of them through the lens of providing value to your audience.

Step #2: Create a categories and tags spreadsheet

This is something I created that makes it so much easier for me to assign categories and tags to any piece of content.

Place the following items in columns:

Column 1: Parent categories – What are the main categories of content you create (or will create)? These should be your parent categories.

For example, the parent categories for this blog are “Foundations”, “Getting Exposure”, “Business Building” and “Productivity”. I recommend having 3 to 5 of these, but that number will depend on how you structure your blog.

Column 2: Child categories – These are your subcategories. Each main category can be subdivided into other categories.

For example, my subcategories under the main category “Foundations” are “Fundamentals”, “Technology”, “Content Creation” and “List Building”.

Column 3: Optional child categories – Depending on the complexity of your content, you may decide to go another level deeper.

For example, I included the child categories “Podcasting” and “Video” under the “Content Creation” category.

Other Columns: Relevant Tags – Under each category, create tags that make sense. Each of these tags should go in a separate column.

For example, under my “Technology” category, I included tags like WordPress, themes, plugins, apps, security, design and software.

To see how I structured my entire spreadsheet, watch the video below:

Step #3: Assign relevant categories and tags

As you create your content from now on, choose categories and tags from your spreadsheet. This will accomplish three things:

  • It will help you stay on topic
  • It makes it easier to determine what kind of content you need more of
  • It will provide a better experience for your audience

Step #4: Adjust your navigation accordingly

Now that your content is well structured, it's a good idea to adjust your navigation so that your blog visitors can get to the content they are looking for more easily.

You can do this by changing your navigation menu to reflect your new structure, or by creating a page that highlights your most popular content in each category and links to the relevant category page.

Here's a tour of how I'm doing it in my Coaching Club.

If you're using WordPress (and I'm assuming you are), your category page can be found at yourdomain.com/category/category-name/. Child categories can be found at yourdomain.com/category/parent-category/child-category/.

For example, my Podcasts category can be found at www.becomeablogger.com/category/podcasts/.

Optional Step #5: Reorganize all your past content

man computer

Reorganize Past Content — Warning! Not for the faint of heart.

I put this step as optional because it's a relatively complex step. In fact, it's the next step I'm taken.

If you already have content created for your blog, it's a good idea to assign relevant categories and tags to that content and remove all of the unnecessary categories and tags.

However, this step is not for the faint of heart. Here's why. . .

If Google has already been indexing your content, your category and tag pages will most likely already be indexed. The last thing you want is for Google to send you traffic to a category (or tag) page that you deleted.

That visitor will go to a 404 error page and that could result in lost traffic.

To do this, you need to create 301 redirects for ALL deleted categories and tags. This process goes beyond the content of this article, but if you understand how this works, I would encourage you to do so.

I will post a tutorial on how to do this in the future.

For those of you that are interested in venturing into this on your own, you can use either the Yoast SEO premium plugin or the Simple 301 Redirects plugin.

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Categories and Tags – Ninja Tips

Categories and Tags – Ninja Tips

This is where things get awesome. Let's say you took me up on the challenge and you decided to be proactive about structuring your categories and tags.

The following Ninja tips will help you maximize your success even more:

Ninja Tip #1: Create category-specific opt-ins

I've said it over and over – you're email list is one of your most valuable assets when it comes to building your blogging business.

One great way to accelerate your email list growth is by creating opt-ins that are tailored to each of your categories.

Let's stick with the example of a food blogger. Imagine the following:

  • Someone is reading a recipe on your blog and loving it. After reading that specific post in the “recipe” category, they see an offer to download your “top 10 recipes”.
  • Someone is watching a video on your blog about the health benefits of Avocado in your “healthy eating” category. At the end of your post, they see an offer to download your report on “five healthy foods with health benefits that will surprise you”.

They are going to be much more likely to subscribe because your offer is relevant.

Ninja Tip #2: Create category-specific products

Yes, we're taking it one step further. Imagine having products for sale that are directly related to the categories on your blog. Imagine having complete congruency between what you have available for free and what you have available for sale.

In my case, I have one training program (my coaching club), but all of the content is arranged according to my blog categories and tags.

This increases the chances that the people who are attracted to your free content will be also attracted to your paid content. It's a beautiful thing.

What About You?

Are you proactively thinking about the structure of your blog, even down to the categories and tags?

Let us know in the comments below.

Resources Mentioned:

Infographic

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How to Use WordPress Categories and Tags for Maximum Impact

Transcript

Some people just love being able to read along with interviews, or they might just prefer to skip the audio completely and just read through the transcript. Hey, if that’s what floats your boat, it is all good. Here’s the transcript just for you. 🙂

Click here to download transcript.

  • Badi Jones says:

    Great post/ podcast. I’d just add on to the Ninja Tips a little.

    In a default WordPress setup, category and tag pages can be a liability if you’re not careful. I It’s a problem that most of us are aware of by now, but essentially, category and tag pages (and a few other types of WP pages) are great for users because they help to organize the site and give visitors easy access to all of your content. They are great for search engine spiders for the same reason. They promote fast crawling and indexing of your sites.

    The problem is that these pages have no unique content. It’s just the same content from your original posts, laid out in a different way. Categories and (especially) tags can quickly generate a lot of low value, duplicate content in a really short period of time. Before you know it, 1/2 or more of your site can become what Google would classify as “Thin” / low quality content. And that is bad, bad, bad. It’s a good way to attract pandas 😉

    One of the first WP plugins I made back in 2007 ( “Duplicate Content Cure” ) specifically addressed this problem by noindex/following these kinds of pages. Today we have Yoast, which does that and a ton more, but the issue I have (and why I loved this post) is that I really like the idea that Category (and even tag pages) can be way more than just a sitemap, or way to organize a site.

    In my ebook I recently wrote, I give alternative to the noindexing / sitemap approach, and It’s basically a lot like what you described. Instead of just acting as a sitemap – or part of the navigation, category pages become real pages (like a mini home page) for each of your categories.

    When I heard your ideas of featuring category specific offers/ opt ins/ and products, I really got inspired. It took what I was thinking of to a whole new level.

    Each category has unique content, tools, products, and offers.

    Then Instead of showing the first paragraph of each post in that category, you could write unique summaries for a few of your most popular posts from that category (you can use custom fields for this), and then feature them prominently on the category page.

    Get rid of the pagination. Instead of showing big headers and summaries for each post, just show the title of each post as a link in a normal font size. Maybe organize them into a few columns.

    So now you’ve gone from a bunch of pages with duplicate content, to one, big, awesome hub page that is great for users, and has tons of unique content for search engines to index AND follow.

    • Hmm, that’s actually a VERY interesting idea. I’d like to see how it would come together. The only complication I would see is how it would translate across different WordPress themes. Great idea though.

  • lukumo says:

    OOOHHH MAN! Just in time, second time Leslie has pulled through in a major decision making moment. Reviving my blog and this is just perfect for my plans this year. What’s the point of having a tonne of valuable content if your “Audience” cannot find it? might as well find a new hobby. go fishing. no offense to the fishing bloggers if any.

    • Glad to hear that this came at the right time for you Lukumo. That’s great. And you are right – you’ve gotta create that valuable content. That’s what it’s all about.

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