Categories and Tags Explanation for SEO

When using WordPress or any other content management systems (CMS), there is option to use categories and tags for post. But lately, these 2 options for post are being ignored. Either because some users don’t know how to use them or they’re using them in wrong way. Using categories and tags in the wrong way can hurt SEO practice. But that doesn’t mean they can kill SEO.

In today’s writing for SEO, we have to balance between writing for machines and for human with Google’s algorithm is for determines website page rank in search engine result pages (SERPs) that involved a lot factors in assessing a page’s ability when serving for machine and human. Factors that being used are bounce rate, average time on site and social media activities, are result on how audiences or humans respond to website content, and other factors such as keyword density and quality links are for estimating website content quality for machines and humans. With a high keyword density can make content becomes more relevant in search result and at the same time getting high score for machines and quality links valuing how content was made with great research. Only few algorithm factors are being measure of pure machine SEO.


This term is what categories and tags commonly referred to. For further explanation, check out how WordTracker describing categories and tags:

… if categories are your table of contents, tags are your index. Conscientious categorization and tagging of your posts will not only make it easier for visitors to find what they want, but it will also boost your onsite SEO. While Google may not rank category and tag pages high in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) (although it certainly does happen), it will be able to get a much better grasp on the keywords that are most relevant to your site by examining them.

How categories and tags can kill SEO

The biggest myth of how categories and tags can kill SEO is because duplicate content. This practice was commonly used by many websites to outsmart Google bots that they have a lot of contents. What they do is just simply duplicate any content that they found; this is because duplicating content is cost-effective and time-effective than creating new and original content. But in 2009, Google aware of this practice and gave penalties for any websites who use this practice.

At that time webmasters began to have fear for any duplication content on their sites. And this is how ‘categories and tags can kill SEO’ myth started. With Matt Cutts said that the reigning expert on duplicate content, taxonomies shouldn’t result in penalties for duplicate content. If you are sure that all of your contents are original then you don’t need to worry if someone steals your content. Because Google can figure out which content is original and which content is the copy. And Google will only penalize sites who copied.

How to use categories and tags the right way

Basically, categories and tags don’t kill SEO, in fact, they help. Here’s a good strategy on using categories and tags.

No follow

Many SEO experts are disagree on setting taxonomies as ‘no follow links’, which they taught can removes any duplicate content indications because page can be visible in Google’s result at categories and tags page. But that was wrong assumption, because the main point is still about duplicate content that have been debunked in above paragraph. So, it is okay to make categories and tags as ‘follow links’. With categories and tags page showing in Google’s search result, can bring more traffic to the site and also there’s chance that visitors likely search for categories or tags to find post that they’re looking for.

What to tag

Tag’s function is to provide clearer understanding to the content’s topic and provides references for readers who interested in a particular topic. Below are list of what you should tag in a post:

– Main keyword or keyword phrase

– Company or person name, to make it easier for them or their audience to find what others talked about them

– Main topics that weren’t keyword

– Phrase or word that could interest targeted audience.

And what you shouldn’t tag are:

– Synonyms, with Google getting smarter each time, now using synonyms in tags is creating duplicate content problem