SEO Category Pages – WHY they’re important and HOW to optimize them.

Yesterday I chatted with SEO guru and millionaire blogger Grant Sabatier about the HUGE role that site structure plays in Google SEO, and he gave solid tips for optimizing your SEO category pages, site taxonomy, WordPress category page descriptions, etc.

This post shares WHY it’s important, and WHAT you can do to better organize your site!

Grant dropped an SEO bomb on me yesterday.

I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and I’ve been itching to dive into my own blog and implement it.

The big tip? Set-up your blog…correctly.

Specifically, optimize your site structure, content structure (tag and category pages) specifically for SEO purposes.


Yes, I know it doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but before I lose you, let me take a few minutes to explain WHY this is so important for organic blog traffic.

Why does site structure matter?

Let’s say you were trying to rank for the keywords “tomato growing secrets.”

trying to rank for tomato keywords

Out of the following two blogs, which do you feel would rank higher in search results? (all other things being equal)

Blog 1 –

  • no categories
  • 35 posts on general gardening tips
  • 50 posts on gardening tools
  • 1 post on tomato tips

Blog 2 –

  • 5 categories (one of which is “Tomato Tips”)
  • 35 posts on general gardening tips
  • 10 posts specifically about tomatoes, all categorized under “tomato tips.”

All other things being equal, Google is going to see blog 2 as being MUCH more relevant to tomato tips, and it is likely to rank higher.

Here’s another example:

If you’re in personal finance, and primarily blog about budgeting, you might have…

  • 5 posts on grocery budgets
  • 7 posts on budgeting tools
  • 6 posts on saving money on car insurance
  • etc.

If tomorrow you decide to rank the keywords “student loan forgiveness,” And it’s your only post on student loans…

Google is going to look at your site and say “Wait a sec this site is about BUDGETING. Nope. Down in the search results for you.”

However, if you’ve included an entire section of your blog (under a category page titled “student loan tips” or something), with MULTIPLE blog posts about student loans, Google will be able to see that as well.

Hello, search rankings!

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Ok, but why are SEO category pages important?

The Yoast blog says the following:

“Your category archives are more important than individual pages and posts.. If your site is a blog and you write several articles about a topic, your category for that topic should be #1 in the search result.”

Grant said the same yesterday.

Proper organization of categories and category pages make a HUGE difference for Google being able to tell what your blog is about.

Side note: Google is smarter than ever these days, and getting even smarter. More than ever before, search results are showing based on USER INTENT, Rather than fancy pancy over-optimized SEO blog posts.

This means it is absolutely CRUCIAL for Google to understand the different sections of your blog and what they are about!

These category pages are actually more like landing pages

It’s kinda weird to think that your blog category pages are perhaps MORE important that individual posts and pages…but it’s true.


It’s all about user intent, usability, and findability.

Basically, category pages act as “guides” pointing Google (and Google searchers) in a specific direction.

Again from Yoast…

Structuring your website is crucial for both usability and findability. A lot of sites lack a decent structure to guide visitors to the product they’re looking for. Apart from that, having a clear site structure leads to better understanding of your site by Google, so it’s very important for your SEO.

Ok, so NOW we know the SEO category pages, their titles, and their descriptions are actually important (at least according to the all-powerful search engines).

So what to do about it?

Here’s how to properly set up your site structure and category pages

1 – Organize categories and limit to 8 to 10 max

Here is a screenshot of MY categories a few days ago

do you even blog categories before optimization
the “before” categories

And that wasn’t all of them. Worse yet, I know several bloggers that have over 25 to 30 different blog categories.

Per Grant, that’s wayyyy too many.

Go through your blog, And list the 5 to 10 different subjects that you blog about. These are your new blog categories. Every single thing you write should fall under them.

Better yet, do it on paper like I’ve done below (Grant emphasized this!)

the new do you even blog category structure

Now before you go start deleting tons of old categories, It’s important to realize if you should redirect them or not.

Grant stated to use 301 redirects (i.e. permanent redirects) from old deleted pages to new relevant pages. If you would like to be dang sure you’re doing the right thing here, I’d suggest reading this short article from Yoast on deleting pages.


As you restructure and re-create your blog categories, you MUST adhere to the following….

2 – Optimize the category titles and descriptions

Go back to images ago above…and note my “beginner,” “featured,” and “essential tool” categories. These are way too broad, and if Google was just looking at these, they would have no idea that I meant BLOGGING.

As you can see in the image just above w/ my new categories, you’ll notice that they are named more appropriately to point ALL aspects of my website to BLOGGING.

Step 1 –  Name your categories appropriately. Again, you want the SEO category pages to tell Google exactly what all posts in that category are about!

Step 2 – Write out a short description for each category.

This is SO stinking easy for all WordPress users, yet few bloggers have taken advantage of this.

seo category description in wordpress

Furthermore, You can also specify a category archive title and description (it is on the same page as the above screenshot in your category dashboard)

Just write out a 150-300 description citing what the category is actually about. Simple.

Huge Pro Tip: In the category description, LINK to your top 1-3 blog posts for the given category! This could be a great way for users to quickly find what they’re look for…keep them on your site longer (Google also loves this), etc. In general, you want your category page to LEAD users to another page on your blog. To keep reading. NOT to bounce away immediately…

3 – NO duplicate categories (or tags)

Under no circumstances should you have duplicate category names, OR have the same category and tag names for any piece of content.


You should not have “XYZ gardening post” under the “Tomato Tips” category, AND put a “tomato tips” tag with it. That is confusing to Google.

Also, you should NOT have multiple tags for that post like [tomato tips], [tomato tip], etc. No duplicate categories or tags. Easy!

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4 – Go back through all of your posts and update the categories 🙂

If you’re an old blogger and screaming right now, I probably wouldn’t blame you.

It can be a pain to go back through all those blog post and edit the categories…but you tell me…would it be worth it?

Do you want your site to be found on Google more or not? Of course you do.

Luckily, you can actually use the “quick edit” on your WordPress “all posts” dashboard to quickly edit a post’s categories.

Just go back through your posts and make sure the categories are accurate and aligned to your new structure.

A quick note on “How many categories vs sub-categories vs sub-sub-categories…

Remember that scene in Inception where the guy tells Leo DiCaprio, “a dream within a dream. 2 layers deep,” and Leo says “No. 3 layers.”

No more than 3 layers deep with the category levels, from menu bar to actual blog post.

This would look like

  1. Your top-level categories (Money, Travel, Parenting, as examples).
  2. Your sub-categories (Money -> Budgeting, Saving, Investing…Travel -> Churning, Cheap Airfare…Parenting -> Parent humor, parent survival tips)
  3. That’s it.

After the sub-categories comes actual content, please. Don’t go nuts with a crazy site structure; keep the SEO category pages clean and neat, so Google has the best chance at appropriately recognizing the different areas of your content.


Get ready for the SEO traffic

According to Grant, and Neil Patel, and Deacon Hayes (who I interviewed here), Google is getting smarter than ever when it comes to user intent.

This means it is now more important than EVER for Google to accurately understand what your blog is about, what different categories you cover, how many posts you’ve written for each topic, and HOW that relates to each individual post you’re aiming to rank for.

Creating a solid site structure and properly optimizing you SEO category pages and tags is step #1. Is the foundation for a well SEO-optimized blog.

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Till next time, adios!

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200 Responses

  1. Dammit Pete, every time I listen to your podcast or read your site, it creates more work for me! haha I love how you keep coming up with interesting content that will help us evolve and become better at blogging. You are Rad!

      1. Thanks a lot sir. I already got all my category pages optimized, but didn’t name some of them accordingly, but when i stumbled on this post, i had to re-write all some of their titles.

    1. You and me both (if didn’t notice already, my structure still sucks. Literally redoing it this weekend as well).

  2. Thanks!! Big fan by the way, I think I listened to every podcast so far. Doing this right now! So just to clarify I am writing a description and putting a direct URL to other posts? Is my example correct below:
    Category: Money Saving Tips
    Description: This category is for articles that feature money saving tips anyone can use to save money in their own lives. Check out these posts …. (AND LIST A FEW POSTS HERE???)

    Just making sure I get this 🙂

    1. That’s perfect!

      The only thing I might add is another sentence potentially incorporating a few other closely-related Keywords? This looks good though 🙂

    1. Hey you and me both! Only reason I brought it up is because such a simple fix for most folks (I.e. me because I’m secretly lazy).

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment Cory 🙂 🙂

  3. Thanks for writing this! This is where my weird love of being overly organized has paid off for me. My only problem is it didn’t even come across my radar that my categories were way too broad! Seriously, think “North America.” Yikes! Luckily, I only have about 10 or so posts currently on my travel blog. Should be fairly easy to knock that out. Thanks again for the tip!

  4. Omg, “Google be like WHAT” had me in tears.

    This makes so much sense. So much sense that I should’ve already done it, but clearly I need it explained to me because I have not. And I will probably put it off, because like all people, I’m bad at doing things that are good for me. This is why I love you Pete, you tell us all these bite sized golden nuggets.

    1. If it makes you feel any better (it won’t), I generally stink at that as well lol.

      In fact, I’m still “in the process of” fixing my own categories from the day I posted this last week 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words Olivia, and thank you for reading!

  5. Let’s, I’m very glad I came across this blog post today. Since I’m a new blogger, I’ll be able to set my blog categories up the right way. I’m going to update all of my current posts tomorrow and utilize these methods for all of my posts moving forward. Thanks a bunch!

  6. Hi Pete,
    thank you for this great post.
    Personally, I think most people underestimate the value of Google’s related searches.
    The ones Google recommends at the bottom.
    My blog is fairly new. Although I started it last year, I haven’t been active because of moving and picked it up last month.

    My main focus will be using the longer related searches that has less traffic than the most popular ones. Build my domain authority that way and eventually will rank higher too for the more competitive keywords.

    And also creating longer blog posts. think of about 4000 words. And go deep into the content instead of short posts. That way it will be more shareable to my readers and I know Google loves long form content.

    Keep up the hustle and I’ll be checking in more often.

    1. Oh yeah? Love it.

      I’m really hoping to make the weekend podcasts (that usually release on Fridays right now) more like this. Thanks for that Jason. I shall double-down my efforts on stuff like this!

  7. I’ve been meaning to revamp my blog categories anyway, so this post has been super useful.

    Right now my category / tag pages have a noindex directive on them, since they look like duplicate content. I’m wondering if I should remove that directive.

    1. I’d probably say so? I’m definitely no expert there, though there’s a link somewhere above in this post I think relating to duplicate tags/categories. You might have to do some re-organizing and deleting of tags or something. I’d go check out that Yoast blog post first though 🙂

  8. Hi.
    Good post. My client has designed site category pages on a wordpress “page” format. They also have WordPress category pages on the same topic. As you probably know, WordPress offers much more customisation of pages compared to categories and the client wants to stick with this pages design. Because of this, I have suggested a 301 from the WordPress category pages to the site category pages.
    Do you think this will work?

  9. Helpful! Thanks, Pete!

    I’ll probably put off doing this as well, but def will keep it in mind. Because Master Yoda once said, “do or do not, there is no try.”

    So no excuses 🙂

  10. This was such a great post for me to read, so thanks Pete! I’m ready to get going and optimize my categories but think I will need to redirect old categories to new ones? Would you have or know of a good tutorial that could help with this? Thanks so much.

    1. ONLY if those pages even backlinks! (which I find pretty rare!) Free tool = Moz open site explorer

      If no backlinks, just delete the old categories/pages, etc.

      If backlinks, you can use Prettylinks (free PW plugin) to create temp or permanent redirects, or Yoast Premium if you’ve purchased that 🙂

  11. Hi Pete!! Thanks for such great, easy to read/understand/apply information!!
    I have a quick question about sub-categories. Is there a suggested limit as to how many sub-categories one should not exceed??

    Thanks again for such a great post!!

    1. 3 layers deep max.

      Blog Niche -> Category -> Sub Categories

      If there are additional “layers,” I’d suggest using WordPress *tags* for those 🙂

      (Just don’t duplicate tag and category names of course. That’s a no-no to the Googles.)

  12. Hello,
    I have read some information on the internet saying that google values a page rather than a category because the page is a static page. Can you tell me that SEO page is easier or category?

    1. No idea, and I personally don’t care much.

      Among Google’s MANY ranking factors, this is way, way, way down at the bottom. Content quality, relevance, and links are approximately 1,000% more important and worthy of our time. My 2 cents 🙂

  13. Hello, Very Nice Article
    But how about managing duplicate content
    If we have title1 title2
    Category Page with enhanced Category description
    but then we have a Single page: title1
    We have 2 locations for the same article: one is the category page and one is the single page…
    Which of those will search engines condider more valuable?
    Do we have no index/follow the category page or the single page?
    Thank you

    1. I personally don’t think the content should be similar enough to be considered duplicates. If it IS, I’d change the content (specifically on the category page) to specifically reflect “This is a category page were I discuss topics about tomatoes. How to grow tomatoes, water them, etc”

      If all else fails, I’d probably deindex category pages if you don’t want to change content.

      Hope that helps!

  14. This is the post i am looking for, one of my blog category is ranking no.1, so planning to do this for my other blogs and i deceived to do a research before doing this and got a clear strategy after this post. Thanks for the post.

  15. I stumbled upon your website a couple days ago and I’ve never been happier to know how much I don’t know! Haha. I have my work cut out, but I really appreciate all the information you’ve been providing! I do have a question, I know you mentioned that category pages could be more important than regular pages. Would you recommend that the menu bar of a website just use categories instead of pages? Right now I’ve been attempting to use both. I have pages on my menu bar, but each regular page I create has the same exact hyperlink as a matching category. I’m not sure if one is overriding the other or if it’s creating some sort of SEO duplicate no-no. Should I remove the regular pages? Thank you!

    1. Hmm looks like category pages to me? You may have already changed it.

      And yes! I’d say TOTALLY link to the category pages for your “grow,” “eat,” “heal,” etc. if they exist.

      Sharing your site with my wife FYI. We built 2 4×8 garden boxes last spring for the first time, and have LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.

      My homemade Cayenne pepper hot sauce is en fuego 🙂

      1. Thank you! I went back and updated the pages. I’m going to continue to follow your information. And thank you so much for sharing! Always fun to discover someone else who gardens 🙂

  16. Hi Pete,

    I like the article but I stumbled on it trying to find a solution to a somewhat different problem and I am hoping you might be able to help.

    I am not actually a blogger, but I use WordPress/Avada as the CMS for a company website which consists of some industry specific pages, product pages, informational posts and project examples. I use “Posts” for the project examples and info posts so that I can use categories to sort them by product used, type of project, etc… and then display only those projects and posts which apply to the page they are on.

    The issue I have is that I have URLs with “”
    as the format and they display nothing but images from the Media Library. I have not created such pages and I am not sure how to remove them as they are coming up under Google searches and even on the Google Ads dashboard when I try to create dynamic search ads.

    Do you have any idea how to get rid of these? Thank you for any help you are able to provide.


    1. Good question, Warren.

      I can’t answer specifically I’m afraid, but I’m fairly certain you can control whether or not these attachment pages (I’m assuming that’s what they are) are indexed or not.

      I use the Yoast SEO plugin, and I know there are options there for how Google indexes media! Check that out!

      Here’s where those settings are (screenshot):

  17. This is so useful! I loved the tips with the duplicate tags – I totally did this (and spent all night yesterday editing them!) and never thought this could impact how I rank.

    I do have a question do. I blog about traveling and among other categories I have one that goes as follows
    – Desinations > Asia
    > Europe

    .. and then Asia is split up into – Cambodia – China – etc.

    Same goes for Europe. Those categories basically include a list of countries and only by clicking on a country can see folks the actual posts. From what you wrote I reckon that that’s one subcategory to many.

    Could anyone advise me on this? How would you go about it? I’ve been thinking of putting it all into “Destinations” without separating by country. I am just not sure how useful for readers that would be. I am assuming anyone who lands on my blog would search for what they are looking for anyway, but that’s just what I am thinking.

    Thank you so much!

    1. That’s a good question, and lemme hit you with a different question first:

      How old is your site? Do your posts have backlinks?

      To the point—is changing around that much permalink structure going to be worth it?

      You can always create permanent redirects (super easy if you use Yoast SEO Premium. That’s why I splurged on that one), but it could still be a pain.

      After that, I’d personally simplify it, but I’d definitely comes back to user experience too! Do what actually helps people (and Google) use your site. In most cases, that means simplifying.

  18. Thank you for explaining the details!
    I was just thinking about the structure of my blog and if I should have some posts under a separate category…
    How many posts do you think should be enough to organize them in the separate category?
    I just analyzed my content calendar and some categories will not have many posts in the near future…

    1. Hmm. I’d say there’s no minimum if you PLAN on having more in that category in the future.

      I.e. if you only have 2 posts for 1 category–but you can see yourself doing more in the future, go ahead and create the category for them.

      I hope that helps 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  19. Very helpful article! As with Nina above, I have two layers of child sub-categories on my travel blog within the “Destinations” category that I use for menus. My permalinks are just domain/slug.

    blog -> destination guides ->
    Asia -> Thailand
    Europe -> France, Greece, Italy etc
    Oceania -> Australia, New Zealand

    It’s very navigable from the UX perspective. Do you think it’s harmful from an SEO perspective? I would actually be very happy to have an optimized child sub-sub category page as I have perhaps 7 articles in there (though admittedly I need to add descriptions).

    Thank you!

    1. Hello, Melissa C

      I’m setting up a travel site, and here I came across this great article by Pete McPherson, which I thank you so much.

      I’m changing the pages into categories.
      I would like to discuss with you on the subject, and collaborate 🙂

      my website

      Thank you

  20. So years ago at a travel blog conference, a guy from this big SEO agency recommended everyone who had categories for countries they wrote about to create pages instead and then put info on those pages etc and to no-index the categories.
    At the time, I didn’t realize some themes allow you to put that info (text) on the category pages themselves as my theme didn’t, and so now I have actual pages for all of my countries as well as categories that are no-indexed.
    I’m figuring that if I would change it and put the text on my category pages, that would mean a whole bunch of redirects from my country pages to my category pages, but if I leave it the way it is now, I’d probably have to redirect my categories to my country pages so that when someone clicks a category at the bottom of a post (it’s the only place where they’re linked to), they’re taken to the customized country page and not the automatically put together category page.
    Redirecting the categories to the country pages would be easiest for now, but I think putting the content from the country pages on the category pages, deleting the country pages and then redirecting their urls to the category pages would be better in the long run because if I do it the other way around, I’d have to create a new page + category redirect to that page each time I write about a new country.
    Thoughts? 🙂

    1. Whew. I won’t lie, you lost me a bit there.

      Sounds you’re essentially doing the same thing anyways–just without WordPress automatically handling things whenever you categorize a post.

      I’d personally transfer the next to the category pages and make sure they’re indexed, (and do the 301 redirects)–but that’s just my opinion!

  21. Hi, Great post, many thanks for it. And I have a question. How do you handle the url structure? Or better, which way are your permalinks saved or should be saved? With the categories in it or without, just Or If you have 3 3 layers, isnt it too long then with

    Does google understand the structure of the site if you have propper categories but only postname in url?

    1. I’d argue yes!

      I suggest only using /postname in URLs.

      The key is that category pages have their OWN URLs, regardless of the specific posts within that category–and those by themselves are indexed and can be quite valuable as well.

  22. This is a very helpful article. What if I have a page that is getting 900 impressions a month with an avg. position of 5, and an active category page that is getting 100 impressions with an AP of 10 for the same query? Is it a good idea to redirect the category URL to the Page? Very grateful for your help!

    1. Nah wouldn’t worry about it. It’s not likely to do much for the post, and would probably drop the category page ranking entirely. Go get that post to #1 AP 😉

  23. Thanks for the explanation, is useful. I want to ask, categories and sub-categories must be 8-10 together? Or adding sub-categories doesn’t matter however not more than 3 layers??

  24. Thanks for sharing so many useful tips. does it influence SEO when i delete some sub-category on the website? Because some of the sub-category product carried are out dated.
    What’s the right way to do. Thank you so much for your time.

  25. I’ve definitely got some optimization to do, but I’m curious about the amount of categories. I just looked at Millennial Money and it appears he has 30 different categories (that’s how many show in his footer anyways).

  26. Wow! This just answered one of my questions. Now, I’m going to find out about “pages” within your blog – if that really is less important than categories. Currently, I plan to put my pillars on pages but it may be more important to just categorize it. I’m still not 100% sure. Thanks for some insight!

    I need more clarity on tags, too. Thanks for that tip about “tomato tips” and “tomato tip” as I may be overdoing it. lol.

    Great post! 🙂

    1. Pillars as in “pillar content?” Larger SEO articles?

      Use posts 🙂

      Posts = associated w/ time
      Pages = not associated w/ time

      Pages = home page, about, contact, opt-ins, landing pages, sales pages.
      Posts = all articles, podcasts, posts, updates, journals, etc.

      Tags = Most folks who routinely use tags consider them “one step below” categories. The important part is just not to use them like categories, specifically no duplicates 🙂

      1. Hi, Pete!
        What if my pillar posts are intended to be evergreen? Should those still be posts as opposed to pages (where there should not be any dates at all)?
        I’m glad you wrote back. 🙂

        1. I’d say yes for 2 reasons:

          1 – you can categorize posts.
          2 – you can *update* that content periodically and show updated dates 🙂

          People like know what they’re reading is up to date–that sends a powerful message.

  27. Really great content here, Pete. One question about URL structure. I see this blog is at /seo-category-pages. I’m assuming this is because your URL structure is set up to be /%Postname%/ (like me). Do you have evidence of strength or weakness in blogs with the category listed in the URL? Based on my research, I’ve concluded that /%Postname%/ is the best route to go being that google prefers URLs to be no more than 17-25 characters. Am I correct by this? Thanks for your help! Looking forward to hearing back.

    1. Only theory, but I’d say you’re correct.

      In fact, I’d argue it probably matters less than ever before, what with fancier Google Rankbrian algs, etc, but I just think it looks cleaner and is easier to remember as well!

    1. I’m a bit confused, Ahmad. Yoast SEO should allow you to update your SEO titles, descriptions, etc for posts and pages.

      And I THINK editing your category titles/descriptions is built into WordPress itself?

  28. Hi Pete,

    This article has just changed my world. Makes perfect sense. I had spent the day looking at Screaming Frog wondering what on earth I was going to do/what I had done wrong. And then I found this ?

    So I have 20 categories to change and 20 (nearly identical) tags to alter too. Am I right in thinking that I need to do redirects for all categories and tags I change? Or just categories?

    I appreciate that I need to alter all the categories and tags on over 80 blog posts…? but it will hopefully help everyone and Google in the long term.

    1. Whew that’s a lot! Sorry for creating more work for you Catherine 🙂

      Redirects definitely wouldn’t hurt–but only really necessary if those category/tag pages have backlinks, etc. (and internal links–you’d have to update those if you’ve linked to them).

      Yoast Pro might even do it automatically if you use that? Not positive.

    1. I’m sadly not, though I appreciate you asking!

      This is tough one to hire for quickly–I’m sad to report I’d start with something like Upwork. :/

  29. This is great information Pete! And I found your article through Google – so well done! 😉 Your content is always spot-on, keep up the good work. I’m off to restructure all of my blog’s categories and tags, wish me luck!

  30. Oh man, this is everything I needed to kick my butt into gear and rework my categories. I was trying to pretend that it didn’t matter and wasn’t hurting me, but everything here points me toward getting to work on it.
    Thanks for such a great reality check!

  31. Thanks Pete for the meat and potatoes! Wish I found this a while ago. I’m still early in my endeavors so I have some stuff to change. I’m fairly new at this, so bear with me… I am a bit puzzled… I started creating a silo structure… HomePage>MainTopic#1Page>Blogs linked singularly to each other and all linking back to MainTopic#1Page (in order to not cannilbalize my SEO juice) Since my MainTopic#1 is a keyword it would also be a Blog Category. How does the Category page (with the link to the top 3 blogs as you recommended) affect or work into my structure so I take advantage of the silo structure? Your best practices on this would be greatly appreciated!!

  32. Thank you so much for this guide. I am trying to rank my category sites too. I am just a bit confused about how to handle the category and the tags as you say, never use same phrases for both. So is it more like, that the categories are the main topics and tags are subtopics?

    1. You could do it that way, but I personally wouldn’t.

      Categories = topics
      sub-categories = subtopics
      tags = extra stuff.

      For example, the ONLY tag I use on this entire website is “podcast.” It’s less a topic thing, and more of a format thing.

      You could have tags like “review” or “round-up” or “opinion pieces,” I.e. non-keyword distinctions 🙂

  33. A quick question as a beginner. We have an e-commerce site. I have 9 new articles that I’ve written. Does it matter from an SEO perspective whether I put links to the posts on my main page or put them in a forum, or create a separate page for each article?

    Thanks in Advance

    1. I’m afraid I’m a bit confused, as those things aren’t mutually exclusive.

      Each article should be a separate post, for sure. You’re welcome to put links to those posts on your home page, but the SEO ramifications are going to be very small, if anything.

      Hope that helps? If not, you’re welcome to email screenshots, videos, or audio to pete (at) doyouevenblog (dot) com!

  34. Hi there, I am so glad I came across your post as it has made me begin changing the structure of my whole website. I’m no expert on this stuff but I am learning fast. I just have a question, I have been sorting my category’s out as per your suggestions and as you say no more than 5-10 category’s I was wondering if that number includes the sub category’s, or are they a different thing? Thanks 🙂

  35. Hi, so sorry to bug you again but I have been trying to edit my categorys descriptions in wordpress like you suggest and I don’t have the same editor as you seem to have in your image above. Mine has no options to upload images or links. I asked site support on the web hosting platform I use and they seem to think you must be using a plugin to get those extra options. Do you? And if so which one? Thanks

  36. Fantastic article. Thank you. A question though:

    If I give the category a description, am I running the risk of duplicating and falling foul of search engine rules on this? Would I need to noindex these category archive pages, or is that defeating the object of having a description?

    Thanks so much!

    1. I’ve heard this thought from several people, and while I don’t have a 100% “this is the correct way” sort of answer–I feel confident that added detailed descriptions to archive pages (i.e. category pages) can only HELP.

      The reason -> It’s simply an extra step of “telling Google what your site is about–so they can help rank you for relevant content,” and hopefully Google realizes it’s an archive page, and not an individual post. ?

      Also, no deindexing. Some folks do that for archive pages, but that’s a completely different strategy based on “dead weight” pages. 9/10 folks should not deindex. Just my opinion.

  37. Have learned so much from reading this blog. Thank you, Pete, for sharing this! Truly there is so much to SEO than meets the eye that it has become important to work smarter rather than harder. Wonderful tips!!

  38. I understand best practice dictates you should internally link within a category or back to the category page itself. But what about if your post has multiple categories (of which most of ours does)?

  39. Excellent tips! I have an online jewelry shop and considering re-structuring the whole site to fit the points mentioned above. I’ts tempting but I’m very scared of ruining my rankings.

  40. Hi Pete,
    Thanks for the info. Question for you. Do you think it’s better for google bot to have the category in the url or just have a category?



    1. Short answer = keep doing whatever you’re currently doing 🙂

      Long answer = better to NOT show category names in URLs! However, the difference it might make is pretty insignificant. Reason = shorter, cleaner URLs that contain ONLY the keywords you’re targeting (i.e. the post name).

      Again, it’s not a complete deal breaker if you already have loads of content published with the category-included URLs. Not worth changing a ton of stuff and having to create loads of redirects.

  41. Pete, you inspired me to redo my category pages.

    Thank you for the awesome post, read through the whole thing.

  42. Hi Pete, I’ve been blogging about 10 years. Thi is definitely the best article I’ve read on this subject. Thank you!

    I’ve got 400+ posts and 20+ categories. You suggest doing a 301 redirect but WordPress allows me to put a post in multiple categories and choose one to ‘make primary’, I’m just wondering if that wouldn’t be easier than doing lots of 301s?

    Also I’ve got lots of instances where a post is in the category ‘electrical sensitivity’ and it’s got the tag ‘electrical sensitivity’ too. Assuming it’s in the right category are you saying just delete the tag?

    1. I’d probably remove those tags if it were me! It’d definitely be a small change though.

      As for the first question, I’m afraid I’m not sure what you’re actually considering. Deleting some categories? That’s the only reason you’d ever need to create redirects (other than when/if you delete posts).

      I’d really just make sure your categories are descriptive, and serve to tell Google what your site is about. That’s the biggest point 🙂

  43. Hey, Pete!

    My wife and I are starting a blog on vegan recipes. I know you say not to go more than the first sub-category, but would it be a good idea to do something like this:

    It adds a sub-sub-category but I think it’s a nice structure that looks good and makes sense without being overly complicated.

    Or should we just make it something like ?

    Getting more complex here, but I’m wondering if the first option is better as we can use the vegan parent category to put the subcategory page authority to other uses, such as

    Then we could also have target the keyword “vegan” over the next several years, potentially.

    I was also considering using the “vegan” category for the recipes, then having a separate category “veganism” for the blog posts, such as:

    What do you think is the best approach?

  44. Hi. I’m wondering if you or anyone else in the comments here actually have seen better search rankings after having done this? Logically it makes very good sense. But in reality it isn’t working. I designed my category pages to be the key to my searchability and while they are in the Google index, Google seems to think they are of no value whatsoever. I’m here on this page because I do have categories, with descriptions that provide value and echo my SEO meta data. They’ve been that way for at least a year now. My categories are already well designed, and yet they never are returned in Google searches, not even in the omitted results! Individual posts may be, but never the categories, unless you suffix the query with my domain name (eg “travel blog thailand powerstotravel”). I just don’t return when users query “travel blog thailand”.

    1. My solution has been to write a “category summary” page with significant content, and put it in its category. On that category summary page I put a prominent link to the category page. I’m doing that for each category. For the ones I have completed and had Google re-fetch/index, I am now in the search results! For the ones I have not completed I am still not in the search results. I don’t like my solution, but I do like being returned by Google search! It’s as if Google thinks “Aww, it’s only a category page – only the posts matter.” So I have made posts that matter to me too.

  45. Thanks for the great post and tips for category structuring. I’m confused about the category structure in main navigation a bit. If you see review sites like and they have like 50+ categories. I have a similar kind of site for Indian audiences and have a lot of categories (35 to be precise). I made them “noindex,follow” a few months ago because of some theory I had in my mind, but now I’m thinking of making it indexable again and put some description in them. But after reading your post I’m worried if 35 categories will be too many. If so why are these big sites having so many of them?

    1. Hey! Looks like Wirecutter only has 16 categories, and tons of subcategories underneath. I think this is perfect, especially for a big site.

      Also, these are more like guidelines, less like rules, and only make small differences for SEO.

      For huge sites like the ones you mentioned, they really shouldn’t care about the numbers of categories/tags, etc–but the user-friendliness (and organization).

      It can be REALLY though for smaller blogs to NAIL this, but the huge established sites have the time and resources to really make this happen (as well as the time and resources to really fill up each category with content).

      Hope that helps!

  46. Thanks for such a brilliant, useful post! I’m obviously a bit behind in only now having discovered it, but it was recommended to me as a great resource and they were right.

    I do have a query though – is it ok if sub-category names crossover with main category names?

    Eg I might have two primary categories like:

    Could I then have a sub-category in Interviews called Technology (or similar) also for separating out interviews in that area?

    Interviews > Technology

    Is that ok or does it cause issues for Google having them being the same or similar? I’m finding that although I can narrow down the main categories as to what we talk about there’s a lot of general theme crossover as to the things we cover eg we might have a Strategy category that has a brand sub-category, but then we could also have brand as a sub-category of our Interviews category.

    I want to make it easy for people by not just, say, sticking tech related interviews under Technology, but I also feel that it’s more useful to be able to sub-categorise the interviews by topic rather than just having all the interviews mixed together.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Eh, I wouldn’t–but probably not a deal breaker.

      For one, “interviews” is not actually descriptive of the topic, but rather the format of content. For that reason, I’d probably switch that to a tag.

      Either way–the most important question is this: Does it confuse the user?

      If it does, change it. If it doesn’t, keep it 🙂

  47. Great and informative post. Just wondering how tags work in? It seems my tags were more like what my categories should be. I write mostly about Nepal and have “Nepal” as a category and the specific bits are tags. Yikes! So, if the categories are really specific like “National Parks of Nepal” then would tags be the specific parks (i.e Chitwan, Bardia, blah blah blah)? Or are those sub categories (there’s more than 3)?
    Also, I noticed your drop down menu has the exact names of the categories you listed. Mine would be something like Trekking in Nepal, National Parks in Nepal, Places to Visit in Nepal, Things to do in Nepal. SUPER repetitive since the whole blog is about Nepal. Is it necessary to have them as the drop down menu names or just as the page/category names?
    Thanks in advance for any help!

    1. I like the example in your first paragraph. Do that if you want (tags = specific parks would be fine), but also slightly unnecessary unless you find yourself producing more than 1 piece of content per tag.

      As far as taking out the word “Nepal,” I think it really matters. if you think it helps users on your site, do it 😉

  48. Thanks Pete for the article, just spent a few hours reading through the blog and its my first time on here
    ive 146 tags and 35 categories, so lots to do

    1 question

    Do i allow all tags and categories to be included in the XML sitemap Yoast produces?

      1. I wouldn’t just see it as an all or nothing decision.
        Know that every tag / categorie is a seperate page on your website. You should decide for each tag / category individually if it can be indexed.
        And if it can, please add more content to that specific page.


  49. Wow, awesome tips man! I have been going crazy about creating deep layers of categories but I now know that I must optimize for best results.

  50. Thanks for your short but very useful guide to optimize category page. I often optimize my posts’ titles and descriptions but don’t do the same thing for my category pages. Must take a look at them after finish reading this post.

  51. I spent the whole of yesterday thinking about the url structure to use in my new sub-directory. Then I read this.

    The comments section is very informative as well. Much appreciated Pete!

  52. Hello,
    I’m considering implementing the pillar strategy. I think one of the biggest questions I’m wondering while researching is, regarding URL structure:

    Would you suggest that this process can be implemented with existing content/blog posts (all categorized and tagged in the non-pillar method) without needing to change URLs… which would then lead to a long list of URL redirects?

    I’m trying to weigh the benefits vs workload that could potentially come with such a change in strategy, and I’m not sure I should move forward if it means changing existing URL structure.

    So far, as I understand the pillar method, for an existing site with a large blog, new Pillar Pages could just be created, and then the proper linking strategy could be added to those new pillars AND the existing blog posts (which also is good for SEO–updating content).
    But does that necessarily mean that any changes need to be made to URLS across the site…??

    Thank you!

  53. After reading your post, i am happy because i am also using this stretegy on my website to create Categories..but Do you think it is easy get huge traffic with a short time

  54. Great post, thanks.

    I don’t suppose you know if it’s important to pick keywords for the main parent categories, that are within an indivual blogger’s reach?

    For example: Parenting (high search volumes, hard to rank for), Parenting for beginners (easier).

    Should categories be treated the same way as keywords are? (Only go for them if you stand a chance of ranking for them).

    I’m wondering if bloggers target keywords that are within their reach – so they rank for those keywords – will this SEO juice then be streamed down to the sub-categories/posts that fall under that category?

    Interested to hear your thoughts!

    Also, what are your thoughts on creating “pages” for the menu items, rather than categories?

    For example:

    A page called “Parenting Tips”, on which links to posts under the parenting category.

    Or, would you consider this bad SEO practise?

    1. Great question, and I don’t think it matters TOO much–but I cast my vote for “be as descriptive and accurate as possible, regardless of keyword difficulty.”

      It’s more about informing Google what your site/content is about, and helping users find MORE of your content (which will also help for search!)

    1. Probably not, but depends on the keyword? If you’re trying to rank for something, you’ll need content, and category pages aren’t specifically designed for content 🙂

    1. You could definitely be targeting keywords from your category page, if that’s what you’re asking 🙂

  55. Hello,

    Thanks for the information, means a lot, but i do have a question.
    I am using a Yoast SEO plugin on my site and I am wondering if its ok to set the Taxonomies for categories and tags in search result to “Yes”.

    Is it preferable that categories and tags are not shown in search result?

    1. I’ve seen people do things both ways, but I personally recommend ONLY choosing “yes” to whichever taxonomy is *descriptive.*

      For me, that’s categories. I leave those indexed.

      I don’t index tags 🙂

  56. Great post, thank you for your time and effort.

    I have a question that I can’t seem to find an answer to. Hoping you can help.

    Is there any rule against or will it hurt SEO to have sub-categories with the same name under different parent categories?

    Main category: Cars
    Subs: Ford

    Main category: Trucks
    Subs: Ford

    I know this is a bad example that could be fixed in other ways, like making the brand name the main category, but what if it wasn’t so clear cut and this was the only way it made sense?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    1. Hmm that’s interesting James. I’ll be 100% honest, I don’t know for sure.

      My GUESS is two things:

      1 – If it does HURT anything, it’s probably a minimal effect.
      2 – It doesn’t sound that smart to me, but it could possibly be made more descriptive.

      I.e. “Ford Trucks” vs “Ford Cars”

      Hope that helps!

  57. I was trying to rank my homepage for my keyword when I should have focussed on ranking the category page because I blog on various topics. I realised I should optimize my categories and searched on Google to see if anyone else agrees and found this.

    I was already going to optimize all my category pages but the one thing I gained from coming here was the “Huge Pro Tip”. I will update all my categories and let you know.

    One question though- If I add links in the Category description, Will my site display that description in the Category page?

    1. That depends on your theme! MOST themes show this information by default, but there could be some out there that don’t.

      (You can also use page building tools like Elementor to insert these descriptions anywhere)

  58. Great and informative article! But I have misunderstood something or would the following categories not be good enough – my site is about soccer.

    Article – transfer news – confirmed transfers
    Article – transfers news – Transfer rumours

    or should I just

    News – confirmed transfers
    News – transfer rumours

    Have I got it right?

    1. I’m a bit confused. “articles” is the name of a category?

      If so, I’d remove that.

      Category = “transfers”
      Subcategories = “confirmed transfers” and “transfer rumors”

      just my opinion! Just make sure categories are descriptive (“articles” isn’t), and fairly silo’d.

  59. Thanks for your useful article. We all know the importance of category pages in SEO. They affect our site structure as well as SEO rankings. However, I don’t want to create a lot of sub-categories. It makes the website look quite complicated.

  60. Hi Pete,

    I’m getting ready to launch new travel site that contains profiles/reviews of the best local businesses, by city (restaurants, bars, hotels, etc). I can’t seem to find an answer to the following…

    We write a lot of profiles/reviews for restaurants/bars. I’m trying to figure out the best way to structure these as people search for “restaurants” and “bars” separately and I want to optimize for each (best bars in______; best restaurants in______).

    I can easily set up a separate page (landing page or category archive) for restaurants and another for bars and then pull the profiles/reviews posts into each, but then I have a lot of the same content on these two pages b/c many of these businesses are both. I really don’t want to maintain two separate reviews for each.

    Any suggestions would be helpful.

    Thank you,

  61. Should a post be assigned to a category even if the category isn’t shown in the url?

    Or can the posts be left as ‘uncategorised’ and then link them together thematically to create a category silo?

    Thanks for the help!

  62. Hey Pete, really very helpful and article. I will try these Categories Strategy to my website and some other blogs…

  63. I spent the total of the previous day thinking about the URL structure to use in my new sub-listing. Then I study this. The remarks section should be very informative as properly. thanks for sharing with us.

  64. Can you please help me. You say to only have 8 to 10 categories. I am not sure how to achieve this because we need to list all the books of the bible. That will be way more than 10 categories. So is there a limit to sub categories?

    I did not see a limit for that.

    Also, what about tags. How many tags should you have? Should you even have tags?

    Here is an example we would like to do.
    Old Testament (Cat 1)
    — Genesis (sub cat of 1)
    New Testament (Cat 2)
    — Matthew (sub cat of 2)

    Then our tags would be more detailed, such as
    Genesis 3:1-15 etc.

    Would this be appropriate?

    Thank you for your help.

  65. Great article!

    Do you have any suggestions on how many posts there can be in a category before it makes sense to create a subcategory?

    Would it be a problem to move certain posts from the main category into a subcategory in the future? Or, would it be a good idea to create a category with subcategories right from the beginning?

    1. I don’t think it’s a big deal at all how many posts you have per category.

      And you can totally switch things up in the future. Shouldn’t cause any issues I’m aware of 🙂

  66. Hi,
    Nice post but I came to look for an answer that Google search told me you had, but you don’t.
    How many categories can 1 post have?
    If the post is related to 2 different categories I can put the main one and a second one (in WP it is possible), but should I do it? Does the post lose authority or it will make duplicated content?
    (since you are raking to that kw you should write about it, don’t you think? just add a new paragraph to it – basic SEO right?) 😀

    1. You can technically assign a post to tons of categories, but I wouldn’t.

      If it relates to 2 or 3, feel free! Definitely try to pick the most descriptive category as the “primary” category, and I think you’re fine.

  67. Thanks so much Pete for this long post that is definitely useful in categorising blog posts.
    After reading this, I realised I’ve made so many mistakes.
    Just a few days ago, I deleted similar categories without giving a thought of redirecting.
    I wonder how that’s going to affect my SEO?

    1. Unless you had several links (both external and internal) pointing to those category pages, I doubt it’ll mean much in the long-term 🙂

      If possible, check for broken links regularly on your site–it’ll catch where you’ve linked to old category pages that aren’t there anymore (as well as normal broken links to other sites of course)

  68. Great post! Question: I’ve inherited a website that has the blog post categories as a part of the URL structure. However, many of the blog post categories don’t make sense from a user-perspective or there are duplicates/similar categories. Should I update the categories and redirect the blog posts, or leave the categories as is? I want to update the categories but I thought redirects might hurt my SEO.

    1. howdy Tina!

      This question generally depends on a LOT, but mostly the current traffic and backlinks! If there are already hundreds and hundreds of backlinks, I might just leave as is for right now.

      If the site is still new and you don’t have a lot to lose–go ahead and make those changes, including redirects 😉

      There probably WILL be a temp decrease in traffic, but it could be worth it in the long haul.

  69. Glad to read the article you wrote. Very impressive..

    But there is a section I want to ask, hopefully my comment will get a reply from you. I hope..

    How do I display the editor in the category? So I can create links, image inputs and so on. I see you do it.

    1. In your WordPress dashboard, go to “Posts” > “Categories” and click on the category you want to edit. You should see it there!

  70. Hi Pete, just a quick question from an e-commerce point of view. Aside from optimizing your meta descriptions and Titles, would you advise someone to create a landing page for “categories?” for instance Windows > Windows OS > Different OS.

    So I create a landing page comparing or just about the OS and link back to the category page?

    1. Aside from adding a few paragraphs to the actual category pages–I wouldn’t do much else. (and that IS essentially a landing page?).

      Though to be fair–I don’t think it’d hurt anything if there a bit more useful information there–before you actually list out the different posts for that category. 🙂

  71. I never thought of this but had always seen top websites appear differently on google search. Thanks for sharing this. Will work on it on my website for sure.

  72. Thanks a lot sir. I already got all my category pages optimized, but didn’t name some of them accordingly, but when i stumbled on this post, i had to re-write all some of their titles.

  73. Completely pumped up with excitement to have found this post! Can’t wait to explore the blog more! I recently started digging thru the net for “advice” to completely revamp/relaunch my blog and I definitely needed someone to smack my forehead about categories and tags…and you sir had the privilege lol

  74. Hi Pete, great article here! I hope you can help me with something. I’m helping out with a 12 year old website with 200 pages and 500 posts.

    – Through the years over 50 categories were created for those posts, with pretty much no traffic or backlinks.
    – Most posts have multiple categories assigned.
    – The names of the post categories are equal to the page ‘categories’.
    – There are 5 page parents (‘main categories’), with many subcategories and under those single pages.

    Problem 1: Most post categories are equal to page ‘categories’ or subcategories. So you’ll have:

    Page: /garden-equipment/grass/shovels + ‘recent posts on shovels’.
    Post category: /category/garden-equipment/page-2. (no unique content, just archive).
    Single post: Tips about shovels

    Should I trim the 50 categories back to the main 5 and then noindex them? If so, can they still be the same as the main pages? So /garden/ and /category/garden/?

    Problem 2: Since a post has multiple categories it will end up on many pages as ‘recent posts’. For example a post about ‘shovels’ might show up under /garden-equipment/ + on /garden-equipment/grass/ + on /garden-tips/, etc.

    Is that a problem or can a post show up many times?

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