Category and Tags Descriptions and SEO

question marksSEO is a hot topic these days. How do you increase your Google page rank? How do you build a better site for readers and search engines? Go to your Google Webmaster’s Account and look for duplicate meta descriptions errors and duplicate title tags errors. Here’s how to correct some and prevent more errors.

Differentiate the descriptions for different pagesIdentical or similar descriptions on every page of a site aren’t helpful when individual pages appear in the web results. In these cases we’re less likely to display the boilerplate text. Wherever possible, create descriptions that accurately describe the specific page. Use site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages, and use page-level descriptions everywhere else. If you don’t have time to create a description for every single page, try to prioritize your content: At the very least, create a description for the critical URLs like your home page and popular pages.

WordPress.com blogging

We WordPress.com bloggers cannot access metadata files and set  meta descriptions for our blogs. As we don’t have the access WordPress.org bloggers do we cannot place robots txt where they can to prevent duplication. At best we have workarounds to work with.

When there is no page specific description provided, the default is the site title and tagline which appear on very page. Wherever possible we want to address that because brief meta descriptions might be displayed in Google search results – if the description is concise and of high enough quality.

Why does Google care about meta descriptions?
We want snippets to accurately represent the web result. We frequently prefer to display meta descriptions of pages (when available) because it gives users a clear idea of the URL’s content. This directs them to good results faster and reduces the click-and-backtrack behavior that frustrates visitors and inflates web traffic metrics. Keep in mind that meta descriptions comprised of long strings of keywords don’t achieve this goal and are less likely to be displayed in place of a regular, non-meta description, snippet. And it’s worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won’t affect your ranking within search results.

Category descriptions provide a brief introduction to each one of your category pages.  Only some WordPress.com themes will display the category description when you view a category page. I’m using the Expound theme and it is designed to display categories descriptions. Here’s an example of the display of category description for the Better Blogging category.

category description

Here’s a partial list themes will display the category description.  If your theme doesn’t appear on the list and you haven’t developed category descriptions yet it’s easy enough to experiment.

Posts > Categories
edit category

To add a description to a post category, you go to Posts > Categories hover under the title of the category, click Edit, enter text in the “Description” field, click Update.

edit category description

If  you have not written Categories and Tags descriptions then when a dynamic Categories or Tags page displays the site’s tagline is being used, which creates a duplicate.

I have been quietly working behind the scenes to improve my blog’s searchability. I created unique static page descriptions for the top of my static pages like About, Commenting, Copyright, Photo Credits, Guest Posts, Translation, and All Posts pages first.

Then I did the same for my index pages like Basic Blogging, Popular Posts and my latest Featured Posts page. I’m not watching to see how much is displayed in the SERPs (search engine page results).  As I do that I am paring them down and I’m eagerly awaiting Google and Bing to crawl my site again so I can see what’s displayed.

The content in your meta description categories and tags should be concise and valuable. So this past week when I wasn’t visibility blogging here and fixing broken links I made the time to create unique descriptions for each of my Categories.  Doing that made me realize how many unnecessary Categories and Tags I have created.  I have already reduced the duplicate meta description errors appearing in my Google Webmaster’s Account. Next I’ll be working on my Tags to reduce those duplicate meta descriptions errors and duplicate title tags errors I see in my Google Webmaster’s Account.

Note: I’m currently converting Tags to Categories, eliminating most, if not all, Tags and providing descriptions for the Categories and Tags I choose to retain. Please accept this apology, in advance, for any inconvenience you experience.

Bottom line: I’m aiming to fix everything that can be fixed on my WordPress.com blogs so I can provide a better experience for readers and for search engines. That fixing includes:

  1. links to pages that redirect to other pages and posts
  2. links to pages that have 404 errors
  3. unique title tag on every page of the site
  4. unique image alt tag attributes on every image
  5. unique meta description tag on every page of the site

Related posts found in this blog:
Top 5 Site Title Tag Tips
Avoid Special Character Use in Titles and Tags
WordPress.com: Heading Tags from h1 – h6
Keyword Metatags
Get the Most Out of Image Search
Twelve Tips For Improving Your Search Queries Ranking Position
Avoid creating 404 pages
How to Maintain and Track Links

23 thoughts on “Category and Tags Descriptions and SEO

  1. Hello Timethief! I am just embarking on a major overhaul of my own blog after weeks of experimenting with themes etc on a private test bed. Reviewing and correcting categories and tags is on the to-do list – but I am curious – in your article Avoid Creating 404 Pages it states that deleting categories from published posts or from the site altogether will create 404s. Converting tags to categories will also create 404s it seems.

    So… in this clean up effort, have you simply decided to live with those 404s, or is there an additional step needed in the category-and-tag clean up process to avert them? Thanks very much!

    1. I do everything to avoid creating 404’s and that includes not using the category to tag converter. I made the bad decision to do that once – never again!

    1. I have 919 posts. I converted some tags to categories. I then thought I could blitz the categories and enter a description for each one. Well that took longer that I thought and I don’t have the time to do that all in one go, so I did all the major category descriptions and now I’m working on a few more of the ones that lack descriptions each time I publish a post.

    1. Hi Judy,
      Thanks for the compliment. I got tired of looking at the old one which lasted long than the one previous. I am visual and I bore easily.

      See here to create a page http://en.support.wordpress.com/pages/#writing-a-new-page
      Then see here for the code http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/multi-languages-of-the-same-theme?replies=8#post-551125 and be sure to change all the URLs to your own
      More detail here http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2011/02/14/translation-widget-for-wordpress-com-blogs/

  2. This is not related to meta-descriptions –which I’ve knew before.

    But is related to SEO: I appreciate the choice for google users to mask their search terms but now bloggers don’t know what search terms are being used that drives their blog traffic. :( I’m not totally happy.

    1. That’s a different issue Jean. It’s not related to this issue and I posted about it here http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2013/09/25/google-encrypting-keyword-searches-ads-exempted/

      I’ve got hundreds of category descriptions still to do. At least I got the Tag conversions I wanted done yesterday on both blogs and then deleted all the remaining Tags. Granted I do not have to do this but I want to. I want it all cleaned up and thereafter I will be restrained when it comes to assigning Categories. I won’t be using Tags.

  3. Thanks for posting the information on Categories and Tags. Now I know what I am going to be doing on Sunday. Blog “cleaning”. I like the idea of doing “invisible” things to increase SEO as an alternative to packing terms in the front section of posts. I wish that Google had not changed the policy on search terms; i miss seeing how people outside of the WordPress community find my blog and there were always some very strange searches to humor me.

    1. I have 58 pages more to work on. Then I have the additional category descriptions to do. That’s only on one blog and I have two. Why oh why, did I do this to myself? she whined. :(

    1. I wish I could say I don’t have many. I have hundreds of both Categories and Tags that have to go. I created descriptions for my main categories yesterday and now I’m editing and eliminating and converting tags to categories and doing the descriptions for those that remain. What a huge job! :(

  4. Having decided some years ago to abandon tags and use only categories, I have tons of them. And nary a description among them! I have a daunting task ahead of me, even if I ignore the subcategories.

    1. I did it. I abandoned Tags on both blogs. From now on it’s Categories only after I pare them down. I’m creating a description for every one of the hundreds of them that survive pruning. I’d definitely prefer to create content instead but I’m committed. I will eliminate every duplicate meta description error and get this over over and done with ASAP. Too bad the Good Fairy isn’t available to do it for me. ;) I know my blogs will slide down the SERPs temporarily due to the broken links but they will recover. I’m in this for the long haul and I’ll carry through.

      1. unfortunately it’s already a mess…either I didn’t see the potential when I started or there was just too much to take in. Defining categories like this from the beginning would provide focus and make decisions so much cleaner

  5. Gosh, I’m so glad I didn’t miss this post. I had NO idea you could add descriptions of categories. I still have SOOOOO much to learn. Thank you for these posts that help me continue growing as a blogger.

    Blogging from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  6. Oh gosh, I have so many duplicate meta descriptions and I never knew how to fix them! Thanks very much for this, although it seems like an awful lot of work for me to go back to add descriptions to each of my tags (less so for categories). Do you think it’s worth the hassle and make a noticeable difference in page rank?

    1. Hi Issac,
      It’s such a big chore to correct my errors and I decided rather than sneaking around and doing this undercover I’d simply do as I always have and share the news both bad and good with my readers. There are nearly 1000 posts here and over 700 in my other blog so I’ll be working on this for some time to come. Maybe I’ll hold a cyber party to celebrate making it to the end. Remind I said that, okay. ;)

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