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I've recently heard SEO advice that says that tags and categories are bad for my blog.

  • They produce pages with thin content because some tags and categories don't have a lot of posts in them.
  • They produce a lot of duplication because the same posts are in multiple tags and categories and the same snippets show up on their pages.

I've heard that it is best for SEO just to disable tags and categories altogether (opposed to noindexing them). Is that good SEO advice, or not?

2 Answers 2

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As with most advice, it depends.

If the categories or tags are good landing pages for your visitors - they group posts in ways that make them easier to find - don't disable them just because you're nervous about SEO. You can work to make those pages' content more unique by doing things like adding intro text and images, and/or displaying the excerpts in different ways. You can also mark up the articles with schema to make sure those particular pages (categories or tags) are as optimal as possible. If your visitors are using pages, don't delete or noindex them - just consider optimizing them one by one.

Typically, it is best not to have a lot of different archive types out there, so if you tend to use tags more and have lots of content grouped with each tag, you could keep the tag archives and disable categories. Conversely, if you use categories and those are the better archives for users, consider not using tags. My experience with categories and tags is that the categories have tended to produce better results for SEO and have become the more dominant landing pages, because they link to a lot more content. The tags I've come across on sites tend to isolate content down to such a small level that there were too many tag archives and those did compete with the categories, so my recommendation there has been to completely stop using tags (delete all the tags themselves so there are no more tag archives at all) and rely on the categories.

You could always use an SEO service to see if certain URLs appear as duplicates of others. That would be a good diagnostic to identify whether there's even a problem on your site, and if there is, which pages are conflicting with which. From there, you can use an analytics tool to find out which pages are driving either more inbound traffic or more goal completions, and use that to decide which to disable or noindex.

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  • While theoretically this answer is perfect, in reality we rarely see blog categories or tags ranking anymore, since they don't provide a good user experience, so I feel it is better to NOINDEX them right away and focus on optimizing the actual content. Jan 24, 2020 at 19:34
  • It just depends on whether you optimize the user experience, and/or SEO, on the category pages. I've seen sites with very well-optimized categories, with helpful intro text and extra features like custom filtered search or taxonomies built into the template.
    – WebElaine
    Jan 27, 2020 at 14:53
  • Sure, but have you seen them ranking and generating organic traffic? I would love to see some examples, might be an interesting case study Jan 27, 2020 at 14:55
  • Yes. St. Mary's news and magazine, which are categories, generate a fair amount of organic traffic to the categories themselves. stmarytx.edu/news stmarytx.edu/magazine
    – WebElaine
    Jan 27, 2020 at 15:05
  • Amazing, I'll check them out - thanks for sharing it! Jan 27, 2020 at 15:29
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If category pages are good for your users, keep them. Having good quality content is far more important in SEO ranking than worrying about these tags.

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