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Basic SEO with Categories, Tags and Keywords in WordPress

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is certainly the elephant in the room these days. And there is much conflicting information as to what you should do to have your website to be highly ranked in search engines like Google, etc. You know how the Real Estate mantra is “Location, Location, Location“? Well, when it comes to coming up in search engine results, it’s “Content, Content, Content. If you have well written content about what ever your subject is, you have done 80-90% of your SEO basics.

My wife, Casey, is a popular an active Business Consultant (Her site is www.wisewomanshining.com). Many of her clients use WordPress for their websites and are befuddled with just how to use the WordPress  Categories, Tags and Keywords to their best advantage for SEO purposes. Casey has come up with a “101” version for her clients and I am pleased to offer it to my Web Mechanic visitors.

Basic SEO with Categories, Tags and Keywords in WordPress

by Casey Dawes

Using categories, tags and keywords in your WordPress website or blog can be confusing. How do you distinguish between the three? What’s going to help your search engine optimization? What’s going to help your readers find what they’re looking for?

 

CATEGORIES

Categories should be limited. They’re a broad brush stroke to help your readers find information on a general topic. If you’re using “friendly” permalinks in your site’s posts or pages, category names can be part of the permalink name, although it’s not necessary. Category names should be between 2 and 5 words in length.

Let’s say you have a blog on cooking. Your categories might consist of:

  • Baking Tips
  • Grilling Tips
  • Crock-Pot Recipes
  • Main Dish Recipes
  • Cakes and Breads

These are broad strokes that can entice people to your blog and let them know that they’ve reached the right place. On the other hand, if your reader is searching for restaurant recommendations, they’ll probably move on.

 

TAGS

Tags are similar in nature to keywords. There are varying opinions about their effectiveness in influencing search engines, particularly Google. Based on my reading, I believe it’s best to think of them as subsets of Categories. Limit the number of tags you use. By keeping the words short, you’ll be able to give your readers a quick way to zoom in on a topic that they want to research more, particularly if you use a “Tag Cloud.”

Continuing the above example, you could have tags that say:

  • Pasta
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Vegetarian
  • Fish

Tags cross categories, so Beef tags could have posts from the Grilling Tips, Crock-Pot Recipes, and Main Dish Recipes categories.

 

KEYWORDS

Keywords and keyword phrases are important tools in search engine optimization. According to Google, Meta-Tags (a list of keywords that are invisible to the readers of your blogs, but visible to search engines) don’t carry much weight in their search algorithm; they appear to have more influence in some of the other search engines, such as Yahoo.

Keywords are the place to have your “long tail” phrases and words. Long-tail keywords and phrases are those that are esoteric—few people will search on any particular one, but having lots of ways for people to get to your blog will pay off in the long run.

Take time in defining your keywords for each specific post, even before you begin to write. Not only do your keywords need to go into the Keyword Section of your WordPress SEO by Yost WordPress plug-in (or other SEO plug-in of your choice), but it’s important that they go in blog titles, headings, link phrases and bolded words. If you know of frequent misspellings of your keywords, include those in the keyword section.

Also be aware that you don’t need to duplicate keywords. If you have “angel hair pasta,” as a keyword, you don’t need to add “pasta” as a keyword. Search engines can figure it out. Try to drive your keywords to phrases (“angel hair pasta” rather than “pasta), because detailed phrases have less competition.

To continue the example above, some keywords might be:

  • Spaghetti carbonara
  • Pasta primavera
  • Angel hair pasta
  • Best oregano for Italian dishes

Finally…

If you have a search function on your blog, both keywords and tags will be important for the usability of your blog for readers.

By defining the structure of your site with categories, tags and keywords, you’ll be able to improve your search engine optimization and the reader-friendliness of your blog.

14 comments to Basic SEO with Categories, Tags and Keywords in WordPress

  • Hey just have to say I have really been diving into this category and want to tell you that this is by far the best explanation of the topic really made it very clear the relation of tags, categories and keywords I wanted to leave a comment and a compliment great job!

    Steve

  • This is INCREDIBLY helpful. I’ve been beating my head against a wall trying to understand this topic for six months, and this has really cleared the air. I wish I’d read it sooner.

    Sandy

  • I want to congratulate you such a great post. I am finally able to understand the terms categories tags and keyword.I have one query though.
    If i write Tags do i have to write keywords also.

  • I agree with the other comments – i was searching high and low for this simple explanation but nothing i found gave it in such clear words – thank you! i’ll be doing some SEO on my WP site immediately, since i have only had tags so far, and no SEO plugin. cheers!

  • Thanks for a great post Casey. The water is looking a little less muddy now 🙂 You have the simplest explanation I have read so far.

  • A very helpful explanation. This is a confusing topic.

  • Boly

    Wow, this is simply masterfull. What an easy, yet detailed explanation. Thanks for the post. It really clear it out for me.

  • I was confused on the Category and how important they were via SEO. Thanks for making this it helped me out. Stuff like this is confusing due to Google and it’s ever changing rules! – Scott Craighead

  • This is really a helpful post. You clear my many confusion about tags and keywords by this post. Thanks for helped me out. Keep updating us.

  • Very nice rundown. This is the kind of explanation I’ve been looking for, in the difference between cats and tags and keywords. Thanks much! Great information.

  • there is a lot of mystery around what SEO actually is. What are the big players in search engine optimization really doing to get great results in their on-line campaigns? This post will explain the most needed SEO facts, tips and guides to give you a full tutorial on the Basics of SEO. Firstly, you need to be aware of what Google wants from a website and how a search engine chooses which website to place in the ‘SERP’ or search engine results page.

  • Nicely broken down into the basic steps needed to implement this important info. Thanks so much. 🙂

  • Thanks Ken. This is the best explanation on this topic that I have been able to find.

  • This article is a gem of its kind, as a lot of beginners in SEO could get a lot of stuff here. Thanks to casey, as you’re just helping out some noobs who’re struggling to get some SEO basic knowledge. Thanks for the share.

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