Should we index #WordPress blog category and tag pages for search engine optimization (#SEO)?

If you are running a typical Blog using WordPress, then the answer is no, you shouldn't allow search engines to index your category and tag pages (if you care about maintaining a higher SEO value).

Anyway, here is the reason :

Search engines rank your pages using internal and external linking to and from your pages: higher the incoming link, higher the rank + higher the rank of the incoming links higher the rank of your link.

Each search engine has it's own ranking algorithm, but the basic idea is the same. You may not have any control over the external linking, so I'm giving an example only using internal linking. say you have three blog entries:

http://YourSite.com/wordpress/, http://YourSite.com/Yahoo/ and http://YourSite.com/Google/

and  these blog entries are under the category named sites.

Now notice that, the category page has linking from all three blog entry pages, but each of these pages are linked only once from the category page itself. So, search engines will give the category page higher priority.

So in essence, if users search something and find your site in the result, in most cases they will find your category page instead of the page that contains the related information. This is a typical case, and the same applies to tag pages too. So it's safe to index your blog entries only. You gain nothing by indexing your category or tag pages. So left the category and tag pages unindexed (is that even a word ? :)). I'm talking this from experience, trust me. This is better for the SEO of your site.

However, if you run a different type of site using WordPress (something other than blogging) then this decision will solely depend on the type of your site.

In fact it depends on this question:

Do you want the category or tag pages to have higher priority than your individual pages?

If the answer is yes, then go ahead and index them. If the answer is no, then don't index your category and tag pages.

There is a very good wordpress plugin named All in one SEO Pack that can manage all these for you. So install this plugin and configure everything you need from the admin panel of the plugin.

Remember that search engines will still crawl your category and tag pages, regardless of your indexing in the XML sitemap or search bot setting (either in meta tag or in robot.txt file).  The only effect of not indexing them is that, they (category and tag pages) will not have higher ranking over the individual blog entries and pages.

Also, note that while giving the above suggestion, I've assumed that in your wordpress installation (or any other blog), the category and tag pages have a higher degree of incoming internal links. This can differ from theme to theme but in most cases they do have higher incoming links than individual entries. So, in most cases, it's better for your site's SEO if you index only the blog entries and page entries like about, home, contact us etc.

You are all set, now make use of these SEO tips. Happy blogging :)

41 comments on “Should we index #WordPress blog category and tag pages for search engine optimization (#SEO)?”

  1. Uhh, this is exactly happened in on of my client's site. I've Googled for it and thanks to you i've found the reason. Thanks for these free seo tips :)

    Ya it makes sense, that's why their category pages were coming up more often in Google search than the original posts. So, many of the intended pages got lesser traffic and eventually it became a reason of lesser conversion rate.

  2. A very very thanks, i was really very much confused on this topic weather to index tag and category or not, every time i do some RND and my site google search result was decreased from first page to 4th page.

  3. Oh now its clear to me, my site has more than 8k index pages and it includes tags and categories, now I will set it to noindex, thank dude.

  4. The problem is that I've had it set to index tag categories for a long time with All in One Seo and I'm afraid that if I un-index them now I will lose search rankings and thus get less traffic. What do you think?

    I noticed that it happens exactly as you describe, my tags show up in search ahead of the actual articles. And since it is just a tag, it's not as likely to get clicked as often because the title is just a word or two, and then when people do clickthrough they have to scroll all through the list of articles to find what keywords they were looking for instead of just going to the specific article.

    1. Nathan, I had the same confusion when I first did this. The thing is, Just because you decide to use no-index for your tag pages doesn't mean Google will stop crawling those pages and stop giving you credit for those pages.

      You'll still get SEO values from those pages, but Google will simply stop showing those tag/category pages in the search result. Also, your original blog page will in turn get the additional values from the related tag/category pages since those pages still link to your original post.

      This is what happened in my case: This post: http://www.fayazmiraz.com/wordpress-blog-url-change/ was in the first page in some search results (it still is :) ), however the related tag page was in 1st position and the original post was in 4th. After I decided to put the no-index meta tag, magically my tag page was removed from the same search result and the original page jumped to position 1 :)

      If you're still not confident, then try it yourself in one of your pages manually, and put the following meta tag in the head section of your tag page:
      <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow" />

      If your result is a success, then use "All in One Seo" to do the same for all the pages.

      Happy Blogging :)

      1. Thanks for your advice. I went ahead and turned off indexing for tags last night. I'll keep my fingers crossed...

      2. Interesting. I was trying to determine if I should link the category or tags. Good to have a different view on this. Considering how much time and money Google spends developing their search technology, you wouldn't think it would matter that much anyway!

  5. Hi

    I'm building a voucher website and I have some questions regarding tags & seo. Can you please help?

    Let's say I have 5 voucher codes for 5 different websites that sell holidays, hotels, flights & car hire and the vouchers can buy any of the products. On each voucher, I want to make sure each product has tags relevant to it.

    Now, each product/keyword will have 5 different keywords extensions as tags. For example hotels tags will be: hotel voucher, hotel voucher code, hotel discount voucher, hotel discount voucher code, hotel discounts. So, altogether there will be 20 tags on each voucher.

    Question 1: Since each of the 20 tags has its own URL, but they all have the same content(same voucher excerpts/preview). Would that be considered as duplicate content?

    Question 2: Since each voucher will have 20 tags(more in some categories), would that be considered as tag spamming.

    I'm hoping each tag will be indexed and it will make it easy for people to find vouchers on my site when they search those keywords.

    1. Hi, This is your answer:

      Ans-1: Try to put some difference in the tag pages. For example, I'm assuming you put partial content (excerpt) in those tag pages. In that case if you put the excerpt like Google does, i.e. put the text content that is around this specific tag, then you'll be able to avoid duplicate content.

      If that's not possible, then try to put some description related to the tags on the tag pages. Otherwise it may be considered as duplicates.

      Asn-2: As long as your voucher description/title etc. (that is visible on the page) contains the tag, it'll not be considered as tag spamming.

      Try to minimize the tags that are not present within the text content of the site.

      I hope it answers your question.

      Cheers :)

    1. Actually it's not :)

      Please read the post carefully, since you've missed the whole point.
      The point is about indexing in Google, not linking or following. In fact linking a post to different tag pages may be good!

      However, if you go to any of these tag pages and view the source, then you'll see that in all the tag pages, there is a small piece of HTML CODE:
      <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow" />

      This CODE asks Google not to enlist the tag pages in search results, but follow the links within.
      In fact, follow doesn't have to be mentioned, since it is implied. So the CODE can be:
      <meta name="robots" content="noindex" />

      I hope you've got the point now. Cheers :)

  6. Excellent info thanks for sharing. I have just begun working on a large website for a friend and noticed hundreds of pages indexed for a measly 8 page site.
    I was unsure as to weather blocking tags and categories in WP would hurt the website.
    Now i know better

    Thanks Fayaz Ahmed

    Mark

  7. As my blog is doing hotel business,I would like google to index my category pages, such as Beijing Hotels category page as landing page,so I remove all the hotel posts on category pages, and rewrite the content. I think in this way it will not harm other posts' value. Am I correct?

  8. today i received a google webmasters alert beacuse of low quality pages, the reason? I had installed a plugin that auto creates tags and to the worst it adds search terms for non existent keywords, my site ended up with 5000 pages full of nothing, and with a google penalty

    1. I'm sure you're doing something wrong wrong some where else! Since, internal linking doesn't affect search engine ranking. It only affects which page is shown in the search result.

      However, there is one possibility. You may have external back-links to your category or tag page. If that is the case, then don't put "noindex" to category or tag pages with back links. Anyways, my understanding
      is, people don't usually put back link to tag/category pages. So, in most cases this doesn't happen.

  9. Very nice and well explained article I recently create the blog http://www.techteem.com on technology, reviews, and guide and after one week I see on google that my categories and tags are indexed as well and they are at up postion while my real post url are down the list and was very worried but now I got everything and going to do this I hope it will work

  10. Nice information you shared with us, I was looking for this kind of information and I was affraid to index tag and categories pages. Now I've controled the both pages noindex :)

    And yes my answer is I want to rank high my post pages thats why I've disabled index tag and categories.

    Thanks Fayaz :)

  11. Thanks for the tip. I just started a blog last week and did a search to see if one of my posts was coming up in the rankings and was surprised to see my tag page. I just disabled the indexing.

  12. Pure awesomeness lol. Thanks for the post.

    I was wondering why one of my tag pages was number 2 for a local keyword I'm targeting and my post for the topic was number 3. Pissed me off to be honest haha coz I wanted my post, the one with the google pic for authors to be number two.

    I have no way of beating out number one so I figured the pic might draw a bit more clicks than just normal text. I'm only a couple of months into blogging so wasn't sure how important this deindexing thing was. Read about it before but I figured the more pages indexed the better haha.

    Anyway, lesson learned, thanks.

  13. Yes you are right, not a good index of categories and tags.

    If you have a post that many in a day and already indexed by Google, maybe tomorrow the pages you have indexed on the second page (/ category/page/2) visitors from the search engines will be disappointed because they are looking for does not exist in that category when in fact is on the second page, and maybe they will quickly leave our website.

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