WordPress offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to organizing your blog posts. You create blog categories and tags on the fly as you write each article. Other than having to put every article into a category (and it defaults to the “Uncategorized” category if you forget to select one!) there really are no hard and fast rules. You can put the same article into multiple categories and create as many tags as you want to further classify the content. When you first start out, this all seems great. But after you’ve been blogging for a while, adding more and more categories with each post , you’ll notice that your blog eventually becomes cluttered and disorganized. It’s hard to find older articles because you can’t remember which category you placed them in and the same articles keep appearing over and over because you put them in too many places.
The worst part is all of this duplication of copy can actually cause you to be penalized in Google. Yup, that’s right. According to the Google webmaster page on Duplicate Content, if “Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”
So what’s a WordPress blogger to do? There are a few steps that you can take to better organize your blog and to stop the search engine robots from getting to those pages were there is duplicated content.
Better use of Categories and Tags. The best analogy that I’ve seen to explain the difference between categories and tags is to think of them as the Table of Contents and Index of a book.
The Categories are your Table of Contents. These are the main sections of your blog. They should be broad and descriptive. Try to limit the number of categories to a manageable number – roughly around ten categories. At one point this blog had over 30 categories, many of which had only 1 article and that article was typically in 2-4 other categories to boot. I gave some thought as to what the main topics were that I was trying to focus this blog on and was able to narrow that down to just 8 categories.
The Tags can be compared to the Index of a book. This is where you can create many mini-topics to further organize your posts. Your article most likely touches on many subjects that are important to your readers. You can assign to each post as many relevant tags that you deem necessary. For example, an article that I’ve place in the Social Media category may be tagged for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (if those topics are relevant to the article.)
Create a Robots.txt file. A robots.txt file tells the search engine robots what they can and can’t look at on your web site. For example, you can tell the robots not to index your category pages because this content is duplicated on the individual article pages . Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t come with a default robots file. The WordPress web site does recommend that you put one on your web site for SEO reasons and they even offer a good example of what a WordPress Robots.txt file should look like.
Use the More Tag. The More Button in the WordPress editor allows you to indicate where you want your article to break with a “Read More” link. By using this built-in feature of WordPress, you can just show excerpts of your article on the blog home page, the category pages, and the tag pages. This reduces the amount of content that is duplicated on your pages, because the full article only appears in one place.
Keep in mind that organizing your blog isn’t just for SEO benefits. It will also help your readers more easily find the information that they are looking for so that a visit to your blog will be a more pleasing experience.