All too often, websites struggle with finding the best ways to optimize category and tag pages for local SEO. The sheer value of these features is often times underestimated (and overlooked) when new content is added to a website.
In this article, I want to go over the basics of what these features are, how you can use them to boost your local SEO value, and why this process is nothing to shy away from.
What Exactly Are Category Pages?
A category page (also sometimes referred to as an archive page) acts as a home base in which you can group multiple pieces of content together. Category pages serve as key components in how content is structured on a website.
The category page itself is essentially an overarching topic that displays the related content. For example, let’s take a look at this local plumbing service in San Diego.
They have designated category pages for Plumbing, Heating & Air, Lining Solutions, Restoration & Flood, Residential, and Commercial – all of which are under the overarching Services category.
Let’s take a look at the Lining Solutions category page.
There are four topics within this category labeled Sewer Lining, Pipe Line Camera Inspection, Structural Epoxy Lining, and Inspection Cast Epoxy Spray. Additionally, you’ll notice that the description content on this category page is heavily tied to San Diego. This is what helps the website rank on local searches.
Now, when we look at an individual piece of content, we are going to see the category reflected in the URL and in the breadcrumb:
Depending on the theme or general layout of your content, the category pages will likely share the same template as the rest of the content within them. But, this is totally up to you and your design preference.
How Exactly Does Local SEO Factor into Category Pages?
From an overview SEO perspective, category pages come with several challenges. The good news is these issues are very easy to eliminate.
Perhaps the most common problem that stems from category pages is duplicate content. As most category pages show excerpts from multiple pieces of content (especially on blogs), they don’t have much unique content since those excerpts are already on the individual pages.
Due to this problem, it can be tough for these category pages to rank well on the SERPs; Google will often time rank the individual pages before the category page.
For the most part, on bigger industry-specific blogs or corporate websites, category pages are simply there to help users find the information they need quickly and easily. In turn, they don’t have much SEO value.
However, category pages can potentially do a lot to improve local SEO for service websites or e-commerce platforms. Category pages can take on the role of location-specific landing pages. There are several things you can do to optimize your category pages for local search.
Create Distinct Titles and Descriptions
First and foremost, the titles and descriptions are the key places in which you can make your category pages unique. If you use WordPress, editing these components is super easy.
For example, let’s say you offer appliance repair services in multiple locations in Southern California. You would want to create separate category pages for each city you operate in. The titles for these pages might include Los Angeles, Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Diego, etc.
In terms of creating unique content for these category pages, you will need to search and optimize for location-specific keywords. So, if you offer dishwasher, refrigerator, and washing machine repair, the descriptions of these category pages would need keywords like:
- Washing machine repair in Los Angeles
- Refrigerator repair in Carlsbad
- Dishwasher repair in San Diego
^ you get the idea.
Usually, these descriptions will be shown at the top of the page. But again, this all depends on your design preferences. If done correctly, your category pages will have unique titles, H1 headings, and content describing what the category is all about.
Configure URLs for Local Categories
The URL structure plays a big role in how you organize your content for local searches. Using the appliance repair example again, you would need to have your location-specific content reflect these categories appropriately.
Let’s say the name of the company is “SoCal Repair.” The URL for the page about dishwasher repair in the Carlsbad category would look something like:
Use Proper Anchor Text for Internal Linking
Internal linking helps Google get a better understanding of what your website is all about. On your individual pages, you should add internal links that point back to the main category with appropriate anchor text.
For instance, when you are writing the description for the Washing Machine Repair in Oceanside page, there should be a link back to the Oceanside category page using an appropriate anchor text like Appliance Repair in Oceanside.
What Are Tag Pages?
Tag pages can potentially do a lot to improve local SEO. When you add a tag to a post on WordPress, there will be a separate page for each tag.
Tag pages are very similar to category pages in that they serve the same purpose of grouping posts together under a common topic. In the example above, if you click on the ‘Chicago’ tag, you will see all the posts published about Chicago.
These pages share the same common issues as category pages – namely ones that stem from the lack of unique content.
How Exactly Does Local SEO Factor into Tag Pages?
Typically, tag pages are there to help users navigate a site and serve almost no other purpose.
When creating tag pages, you can perform the same SEO practices we talked about for categories. This involves making them unique to your local markets. Keep in mind, you do not want your tag pages to have the same titles as the category pages – or even the content within them. This can result in your tag pages getting ranked instead of your main pages.
Should You No-Index and No-Follow Tag Pages?
Generally speaking, the best practice to ensure tag pages don’t rank over your main content is to no-index and no-follow them. This means that the search engines will omit these pages when indexing your website.
If you use WordPress and the Yoast plugin, go to Search Appearance ? Taxonomies, then select No when it asks “Show Tags in search results?”
Additionally, if you go this route, it’s a smart move to exclude tag pages from your XML sitemap.
Now, if you decide that tag pages are absolutely crucial to your website and its local SEO, you need to be very careful and avoid using too many.
Similar to category pages, you should aim to create unique content descriptions for each tag related to the specific location. For example, if you sell real estate in San Diego, creating tags for content in different neighborhoods might be beneficial for local SEO. These tags may include areas like La Jolla, Pacific Beach, North Park, Ocean Beach, etc. Each should have their own description.
Try to limit your tags to just one per topic, and no more than two to three per post. If you can, only use tags when you REALLY need them. It’s not super likely that Google will rank them highly.
Over to You
Category and tag pages are available on most WordPress websites. If used properly, these features can do wonders to help both users and crawlers understand what your site is all about. More importantly, they can be extremely advantageous for improving your local search visibility.
Now, before you go and start making any drastic changes, be sure to take your site’s structure and navigation into account. The category and tag pages need to be sending the right signals to the search engines to rank for local searches.
If you have any questions or need any assistance in managing your category or tag pages, please contact us right away! We are happy to assist you in any way we can!