in SEO by Jeffrey_Smith

Implementing contextual categories and granular metrics such as keyword-rich naming conventions vs. non optimal generic or “less descriptive” category names invariably impact your SEO efforts.

Are Keywords in Categories Important?

Just like the photo above, if your site structure or content lacks formal continuity, rhyme or reason, how can search engines possibly gain context if you yourself have provided minimal cues?

Consider the URL ( ) has the potential to either (a) reinforce topical relevance or (b) potentially diffuse it. Each category or sub folder in your website acts as a beacon to consolidate the sub pages within that tiered structure.

Based on the competitiveness of the root phrase you are targeting determines the degree of overlapping metrics you should execute in order to “optimize” either pages, categories or cyclical posts for specific keyword variations determines how your preferred landing pages fare.

Let’s use an example. If the threshold for a keyword I am targeting like a broad level keyword such as “consulting” has a tipping point of 141,000,000 competing pages or rather instances in the top 1000 pages in Google’s index. It is highly unlikely that a 1 page or 10 page website on the topic is enough to cross the relevance threshold needed to rank for that keyword.

This is why you have to view your entire website as an opportunity to creating overlapping tiers of relevance which allow you to elect a pecking order (through internal links) to funnel link-flow to the appropriate pages (through corresponding keywords).

Since “consulting is competitive”, it would serve both your time and your ROI by targeting a less competitive keyword and keyword modifier that accomplished 2 things (1) it allows me to refine the focal point of the page and (2) allows me to speak directly to the type of consumer who would use such a search phrase to begin with.

Using a drill-down approach to semantic layering within a website provides the perfect overlap for structure through replicating this phenomenon through site architecture. The most competitive keyword “consulting” now becomes a subfolder from the domain and all supporting keyword clusters that either have the word consulting in the main focal point of the title, URL or subject get categorized under this nomenclature and grouped into a parent / child relationship within the website.

Going back to grade school when we first learned the importance of putting together an outline and how the main subject and corresponding points of interest were paginated to infer relevance, search engines and their inherent algorithms also use this type of structure to calculate relevance within a body of documents.

Structuring facets of interest (based on overlapping synonyms and keywords) assists search engines by consolidating these topics in a clearly structured format. As a result, this coherence translates with a higher degree of relevance score for (a) the individual pages and (b) the collective keyword contained and / or weighted within those pages as indicators of the query space.

Rankings are delivered by the page and this drill-down tiered effect provides exponential returns when harvested through linking out from the collective pages for keywords to their corresponding landing pages.

By theming your content, through determining the subject, weight and relevance ratios required to cross the tipping point based on the volume documents in Google (using “phrase match”, “inurl”, “intitle” and “inanchor”) in tandem with relevant content – make acquiring a top ranking a matter of time, trust and authority.

All of which can be tied back to a solid site architecture which includes using relevant naming conventions whereby the “crowning keyword” is integrated into the folder structure to add a bit of added velocity for the various signals (over 200) that Google uses to rank a web page. 

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About Jeffrey_Smith

In 2006, Jeffrey Smith founded SEO Design Solutions (An SEO Provider who now develops SEO Software for WordPress).

Jeffrey has actively been involved in internet marketing since 1995 and brings a wealth of collective experiences and marketing strategies to increase rankings, revenue and reach.

6 thoughts on “Do Categories Matter for SEO?
  1. Paul says:

    I agree with you 100% I just have a bit of a pickle though. When creating Parent category within wordpress.
    Example if you have a website related to food and have parent categories of>

    Sub cats such as Meat>Pork,Beef,Poultry,fish

    Under subcategories have articles related to each (example Meat/pork/why-ham-is-yummy.html

    Now what Im having trouble with is How to make Parent category only show on home? Is it possible to make Main subject/parent categories menu list on Home page Example> Categories


    And not show sub-Categories on home page?

    What I would like to achieve is show only parent-category on home page and when click Parent go to (a parent category page) and on that page will show only child-categories of that Parent in the menu list and none of the other Parents.

    Example Parent Category page for > Fruit-
    Apples (articles-apple pie, apple sauce, apple crisp, Johnathan apples, Golden delicious apples, growing apples, harvesting apples, insects etc…)
    Coconuts (articles
    Dates (articles
    Bananas (articles

    This would allow keeping each Parent and sub category 99.99% relevant without unwanted loss.
    I wish I could figure out how to do it.

  2. Paul this sounds like a good idea for a plugin that allows you to select or theme categories. Perhaps as an interim, you could consider creating a series of templates that allow you to personalize the sidebar. Something that allows you to pull the category by ID and then show siloed / related posts from that category (or automatically link only to siloed posts).

    My first thought is, I think already has a great suite of plugins that allows you to configure this. We have something we are launching down the road that will allow you to accomplish this, but I have to keep it under wraps until it is out of beta.

    Great series of examples though… You may have to create link blocks for widgets or sidebar 2 in the meantime using the text html feature, then add the link block of secondary navigation to the pages you wish.

    I will keep you posted, when I get an update on the status of our new plugin.

    Thanks for visiting.

  3. Paul says:

    That sounds great, Im not as savvy to create the plugin though. I was hoping to drop the hint and perhaps see it in a future seo-ultimate release. If you would need a beta tester for that function I would be happy too you have my email. I am prepairing to launch a new blog and was hoping to have that function and ability to have stand alone category pages with child menus only. Thanks for the link above I will check them out and see what they have.
    Read you daily and have learned more here than I have anywhere in the past 3 years.

  4. Paul says:

    On a side note, it would also be nice to see a plugin that allowed category reader contribution like guest post. Something like the link box at the bottom of the post that would allow a reader to contribute to post within classification. Of course unposted until approved and meets the categories guidelines. This would certainly spark growth from an seo stand point not to mention the increase in relevant fresh content for the category.

  5. Paul:

    Thanks for the feedback on the blog, I am glad to know people are truly listening / reading / sharing the content we produce.

    I like the idea of stand alone category pages with child menus you suggest and will pass this along to John Lamansky and get his feedback on some additional modules.

    I believe the footer addition was one already in the works.

    We have had that function on our own site for years and it is ideal for when you need to add something relevant to a specific page.

    Thanks again for the comments, I will keep an eye out for a plugin in the meantime, until we can release our version (which is more like a plugin that turns a basic wordpress install into a feature rich platform like Thesis”.

    You have complete control over templates, titles, tags, ads, banners, navigation (which pages show where and why).

    In the meantime,I have to keep in under my hat until we finish testing.

    Take care and thanks again Paul for visiting.

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