Categories and tags are integral part of a website that can help visitors to navigate through your entire site content and easily find the one they’re searching for. A Category gives the address of topic to an article and tags narrow the category list through filtering options. If a user can’t find a specific article under a category they might find it using tag search.
Both Categories and tags are useful for a website to boost user experience but they’re not so useful to display on search results pages in Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines because the design layout of a website may not be optimized enough for category pages and this might cause bad effects on search ranking in Google and other search engines.
Today in this article I will discuss about indexing and noindexing issues for categories and tags in WordPress CMS. If your platform is different you can still follow some parts of this article and apply instructions on your website.
Category, Tag Indexing/Noindexing Issues for WordPress
There are countless argues about indexing category and tag pages in search engine results and still there is no clear evidence that which sites get the most benefit using categories displayed in search results and should a webmaster display category pages in search results for the prosper of his/her website.
Category and tag pages contain large scales of post URLs that provide users useful information on specific topics, reduce bounce rates, and help users to easily navigate content through your entire site. A category page provides links to number unique post URLs in specific topic and a user can get more valuable information from a category page than a specific post page.
In this concern a category page can achieve more inbound links than a static page and out ranks other blog posts in search engines within the same website.
If you run specific niche site or typical blog and provide content in specific industry then the right decision is to Noindex your category pages from search engine results pages since your blog posts can drive potential traffic to your site from search engines that converts and if your category pages out rank your blog posts then you definitely lost the better conversion rate, sales and money.
Again category and tag pages can create duplicate content issues (if they’re not well optimized) and get your site to be penalized by Google Panda.
Despite the countless drawbacks for micro niche sites to get category pages displayed in search engine results pages still there are number of top weblogs, news, magazine and portfolio sites index their categories in search engine results and their category pages rank higher for the top competitive search keywords in Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
Sites like Mashable, BuzzFeed, Tech Crunch etc. index their categories to Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines and their category pages rank higher for the top competitive search keywords that drive their site the most search traffic and traffic value.
The reason these sites index categories to search engines and never got penalized since their category pages are well optimized for search engines and display quite different and modified results than a normal blog post page with navigation system, different sidebar content, and content layout design etc.
Now let me ask you, do you run micro niche site or typical blog site in specific industry then you should definitely Noindex your category and tag pages from Google and other search engines for biggest benefit of your conversion rate and keeping your site away from all Google Panda penalties for duplicate content issues.
If you run such big site like News, Magazine or Portfolio site with over thousands of posts already published and each of your category page contains plenty of resource articles and your category pages are well optimized for positive search ranking then you can index your categories to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo but you must Noinded tag pages since they put nothing value to your site’s overall SEO approach.
Note: You must not block search engine robots like Googlebot, Bingbot to access Category and tag pages using robots.txt file rather you should Noindex them so that still search engines can follow the links containing in your category and tag pages. Learn more about robots.txt optimization for your website.
Setup Yoast SEO to Add Noindex in Categories, Tags, Archives, Subpages of Archives, Author Archives, Affiliate Links and Attachments
In this tutorial I would show you how you can Noindex Category, Tag, Archives, Subpages of archives, affiliate links and author archives with WordPress SEO (Yoast SEO). If you don’t have Yoast SEO installed and setup on your WordPress site then read this tutorial to easily setup the plugin on your WordPress site.
Login to your WordPress site admin panel and navigate to SEO > Titles & Metas
Now click on “Post Types” and scroll down the page until you reach Affiliate links section
Note: If you already installed any affiliate link plugin on your site then you will find this section.
Choose “noindex” for Meta Robots
Now click on “Taxonomies” tab
Assign “noindex” for Meta Robots for Categories
Assign “noindex” for Meta Robots for Tags
Assign “noindex” for Meta Robots for Link Categories
Now click on “Archives” tab
Assign “noindex” for Meta Robots for Author archives
Assign “noindex” for Meta Robots for Date-based archives
Click on “Other” tab
Assign “noindex” for Meta Robots for Subpages of archives
Assign “enabled” for Add noodp meta robots tag sitewide
Finally click “Save Changes” and you’ve configured Titles & Metas for Noindexing Category, Tag, Archives, Affilite Links, Subpages of archives etc.
Search engine will follow this rule and remove all these pages from search results within 20 days from now.
XML Sitemaps Configuration
We still need one more step to do for better configuration XML Sitemaps in Yoast SEO. To configure XML Sitemaps simply click on “XML Sitemaps” and click “Post Types” tab
Assign “Not in sitemap” for Media (attachment)
Assign “Not in sitemap” for Affiliate Links
Now click on “Taxonomies” tab
Assign “Not in sitemap” for Categories, Tags and Link Categories
Finally click “Save Changes” and you’re successfully done, removing unnecessary categories, tags, archives, subpages of archives, author archives, and affiliate links from Search Engine results pages including all the search engines where you have submitted your website sitemap.
Use Google Removal URLs tool to quickly remove from Google search results
If you want your categories, tags instant removal from Google search results then you can use Google Removal URLs tools in Google search console account and request for temporary URL removal to Google.
Login to your Google search console account and access your site search console dashboard
Now navigate to Google Index > Remove URLs
Click on “Temporarily Hide” button; enter your removal URL click “Continue”
Click “Submit Request” to temporarily hide page from search results and remove from cache.
You will see the webpage has been added for removal.
Normally it takes 24 hours to take action.
Repeat the process to remove all your site categories, tags and archives pages from Google search results.
Use Bing Block URLs tool to quickly remove from Bing search results
To remove URLs from Bing search results page you will have to do the same thing you did at Google search console.
Bing Provides “Block URLs” tool to block a URL for 90 days before the cookies expired and the page may reappear on search results pages. Though you have assigned “Noindex” on categories so Bingbot will obey the rule and never display categories on search results pages even after 90 days period.
First of all login your Bing Webmaster Tools account and access your site webmaster account dashboard
Now access to Configure My Site > Block URLs
Choose “Page” as block type and enter your blocking URL and click “Block URLs and Cache” button
Instantly your URL will be added for removal from Bing search results pages.
Categories and tags play great role to separate your blog posts in different topics and assist your blog readers to read through their preferred articles using your site search. Categories and tags are important to classify your articles but they’re not so important to get indexed in search engines as this is not recommended SEO practice nowadays.
Google needs the valuable articles from your site that can be displayed on search results pages for particular terms and you get traffic from that URL.
If Google finds lots of similar articles in their index from a single site then it would be crucial for Google to display the most relevant results from that site. So it’s recommended for every website owner to submit only posts and pages to Google search index except the unnecessary pages like archives, categories, tags and subpages of archives.