The Summary of Discussion 2: Should I Allow the Indexing of Categories and Tags?
Hey guys I need help here. Should I allow indexing of categories and tags? I did my site SEO analysis and came across the below screenshot. Your help appreciated helps me and other.
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Unless you have 100,000 or more URLs on the site, you can't "save crawl budget" by any trick in the book.
And "noindexing" pages doesn't prevent search engines from crawling them. They MUST crawl the pages to see the "noindex" meta tags.
That said, categories are generally the lifeline that passes PageRank to deeper content on large sites. If you "noindex" them then you pretty much screw up your site.
Tags, author archives, even date archives can help pass PageRank-like value through a site, too. But they should be substantial before you think about allowing them to be indexable.
Generally speaking, if you don't create many tags it's okay to allow them to be indexed.
If you do create tags and you mix up their use so they are relatively unique compared to each other, it's okay to allow them to be indexed but they can also contribute to a site's being flagged as "low quality".
If people are not clicking on the tags and browsing them, then I would probably not use them.
It's better to redirect tags than to merely delete them, to help improve Website crawl, if you decide to do away with them.
Same goes for categories. If you decide you have too many categories and don't want them indexed, then redirect them and consolidate their content into fewer categories.
The more you block the search engines from crawling and indexing your site's content, the harder it becomes for them to understand your site and ensure that its PageRank-like value flows smoothly throughout the indexable content.
"The more you block the search engines from crawling and indexing your site's content, the harder it becomes for them to understand your site and ensure that its PageRank-like value flows smoothly throughout the indexable content." I have over 180 blocked of them, thinking of deleting all tags 😰😰
Micha » Kiog
I would unblock and redirect any tags you don't want indexed.
Kiog » Micha
Heard also too much redirect can affect SEO.
Micha » Kiog
That's an old issue that really isn't a problem any more. The "too much" was really "too many redirects in a chain" ala:
A -> B -> C -> D -> E -> F
The search engines say they don't mind following those chains now.
So what I'm proposing is nothing like that.
If only block (via "robots.txt"), or use "noindex" tags, or simply delete content (so it returns a 404/410 status code) then you're throwing away all the PageRank-like value that flows to those URLs from internal (and, if they exist, external) links.
Redirecting content you don't want indexed to an appropriate alternate destination is the best SEO solution – when you have an appropriate alternate destination. Where tags are concerned you've usually got relevant content you can redirect to.
Michael covered the technical side of things here pretty well. So I won't go into that. I'll touch on the more nuanced aspects of the choice.
Categories and tags are important because they not only pass the pagerank, but they help give contextual clues to the relationship between documents. Categories tend to be the more broad concepts that your site is going to cover while tags can show relationships between pages that might potentially cross those categorical boundaries.
As such, the tags and categories need to be the RIGHT tags and categories. They need to be used consistently and properly and they need to be done in a way to create structure and relationships between things. If not – then all your category and tag pages are utterly useless – both for the user and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
If they are set up properly, though… I would contend that they are among the most important things to have indexed (and more importantly followed) on your site because they are things that provide structure, context and connectivity between all the topics you're discussing.
They are also the fallback landing pages for more broad search terms. If someone types something in and Google isn't sure exactly what they want – your category page might be the answer. It can see your site and say, "Okay… any one of these three articles might be what they are looking for, but I can't be sure which one to show. I'm certainly not going to give this site three slots for this search term, but… oh wait… this category page gives them a clear path to all three of the articles, so if I send them there, no matter which one they were looking for, they're presented the options and they can decide! RANK IT!"
There's a lot more to information architecture (and how Google uses that to rank things) than what either Michael or myself have talked about here. These are starting points for something which many colleges offer up as a four year bachelor degree. So it's a pretty big area. You don't need that degree to be able to use it, but you do need to have enough understanding of how it all works to be able to include it in your SEO strategy. So spend some time on it. Learn it and leverage it.
Thanks for broad explanation hope it will help many. Kudos. Can the below be associated with this though no tags was available?
Breadcrumbs, URL Structure, and your primary navigation structure (and sometimes your secondary navigation structure if it's done right) are all things that play into that – absolutely. And ultimately, you want as many of these things as possible happening and sending the same signals to help Google understand things.
Now… back to tags and categories – these are ways to achieve what you're looking at in a more automated way. If you block the pages that connect them, though – it doesn't work and puts a big hole in that structure.
When I say "Automated" – that's not exactly right, though. Basically, you can connect your articles by linking them together and achieve the exact same result. But this means that whenever you create a new article, you need to go back to the old ones and update them so they link back and forth with the newer ones.
Tags and Categories – by assigning each article to them – goes back and recursively connects the older articles to the new ones with the same tag or category without you needing to go back and do it.
As with most things – there are many ways to approach something and many of those ways will work equally well – at least when combined with some other choice you've made. They can also work equally against you, though.
That's why Search Engine Optimization (SEO), in my mind, is more of an art than a science. I can teach you concepts, and tools, and give you some basic skills, but ultimately it's you – the SEO Artist – that needs to put it all together and make it work.
The Summary of Discussion 1: Thoughts on No Indexing Tag and Category Pages for Blogs
What do you guys and gals think about noindexing tag and category pages for blogs? My client is telling me that he's reading that they're "good for search engine optimization (SEO)." 🤔
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I had tested both ways in several blogs. Honestly, there was no notable difference 🤷♀️. 👍🏽2
Curious if you mean no notable difference in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP)s or based on traffic acquisition or some other sort of Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s?
Lera » Mew
SERPs and traffic. I used to get hung up on this back in the day but in all seriousness, it was a waste of time. Even testing isn't 100% accurate because you're testing with slightly different content anyway (otherwise the duplicate content issue) and I'm not gonna keep creating same themed-sites over and over again so I simply refocused to improving the quality and length of content. 👍🏽1
Mew 👑 » Lera
– Agree. As stated below the category pages have worked very well for me in news/e-com, but just about everything else has neither been here nor there.
Glad to have your input!
Lera » Mew
yes, I agree RE e-com. Just even judging by Amazon shopper psychology and site usage, it's easy to see how the categories have more weight there than in regular blogs. 👍🏽1
Excellent question bud!
As always – it depends. Some of my category pages do incredibly well in the SERPs for news/eCommerce niches.
For local services, absolutely not.
Tags? More so for users than Google. I never see these pages in the SERP unless structured as categories. 👍🏽5
If categories are used as part of the website structure, and if they are enriched by additional content, then indexing them is essential.
Many use categories with no plan and without understanding them. Noindexing those is a good decision.
Tags are tricky. You need lots of consistency and thinking it through for tag pages to add value on the SERPs. They are mostly better to be noindexed. 👍🏽3
I always noindex tags and categories as they don’t offer anything (typically). Although I have seen Charles Float show how you can edit the archive templates for these so that they do actually provide value… so in that case they can be okay. 👍🏽1
How about using something like enhanced category page so that you actually use the category page to build up authority for each posts by using unique and useful content. It will provide link juice, push up relevancy, additional pages and hopefully some long tail as long as they don't cannibalize. 👍🏽2
I index Categories because I put a ton of info on the category pages. I don't index tags, ever. I tell my people to stop using them. 👍🏽3
I personally no-index them. They're fairly useless 99% of the time. Then again, you have a company like Canva who essentially built massive search dominance – with category/tag-like pages. 👍🏽2
To answer your question (and arguably any question for SEO), ask yourself how that page will satisfy the search intent for the keywords and topics you expect it to rank for. If the page literally is a collection of blog posts tagged with that topic but nothing has been done to sort by relevancy or include functionality to find what users are looking for, then you're not going to do well.
Like others have said here, it depends on what other content your have on the site, ability to adjust these pages to really help users, etc. Tag and cat pages could be used only to allow internal link value to be passed but they can also be used to rank if done the right way. 👍🏽3
If they’re rubbish, noindex them. If they’re really great and helpful, don’t 🙂
Just don’t have dozens of tag pages hoping they’ll rank for all sorts of similar phrases. Those days are gone. 👍🏽2
I’ve been planning on implementing what could be considered enhanced category pages on some of my sites that have extensive blog libraries. Basically, the plan is to create unifying SEO-friendly themes, such as New Homeowner’s Guide, adding some unique body content, and linking all blogs with that theme to the new page to help improve UX and shareability. It created quite a bit of havoc on my team. 👍🏽2
I have used them both on various sites and there are mixed results.
Can't say indexing category pages have hurt the rankings out otherwise.
Tags, I have never indexed. 👍🏽1
Steve Toth ✍️
Thanks everyone, this has been super helpful. I've got bigger fish to fry with this client, but I also wanted to illustrate how asking real SEOs is better than reading a blog. I included a lot of these point in my response. Thank you!! 👍🏽1
I might be late to this one but I typically no index both unless it’s an e-comm site then I leave categories indexable but add some content to them in addition to the listed products 👍🏽4
First, check the organic traffic to these pages for a longer time period.
If none of them have any valuable traffic, a quick internal link audit might help. Are there important pages exclusively linked from either of these pages? If so, noindex ing them might eventually mean losing the link equity passed on to pages linked from these pages.
If there is no potential organic traffic or link equity to be lost, by all means go ahead and noindex them. 👍🏽1
nice and logical. Thank you! 💟1
Krinal » Steve Toth
No worries. I tend to apply the same link equity loss logic to any noindex query after reading the DeepCrawl guide I wrote about here
Krinal posted on LinkedIn 👍🏽1
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