Category pages are crucial to the taxonomy of most websites. From here users can see all the products within a particular niche that your site offers and decide which, if any, they are interested in reading more about. More often than not, these are what site owners want to rank in Google, as opposed to the product pages themselves. Whilst product pages are a ‘dead-end’ of sorts – users will click off them if they don’t want to buy that specific product – category pages act as a menu of choices if you will. If a user clicks on a product and isn’t interested, the back button in the search engine will take them back to the category where there are a number of other options on the site to choose from, rather than back to the SERP.
For example, if your site lists or reviews SEO agencies around the world, you may have a ‘London’ category page. For the key phrase ‘SEO agency London’ you probably want this to rank. Users searching ‘SEO agency London’ are probably not searching for a specific agency in London, but want to get an idea of how many there may be in the city and what distinguishes them from their competition. The ‘product’ is an individual SEO agency. London is the category that this agency is a part of and this is what you’d prefer users to see first.
So just how do you get this to rank?
How to Rank your Category Page
Site Architecture and Internal Linking
Categories are essential to a site’s structure and make a big impact on how easy it is to navigate for both users and Google spiders. In general, the fewer clicks a user needs to reach a category page the better. This implies that each product that is part of the grouping should feature a link back to the category page. Not only is the user experience improved, but Google spiders are also more likely to realize that this is an important page that is relevant to the search term. Hence, it is likely to rank better, especially for more general search terms.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Excessive keyword use has been confirmed by Google to have a detrimental effect on ranking so be very careful to avoid this. While it is important for SEO that content is key phrase rich, repeating key phrases unnaturally too many times may make Google doubt the trustworthiness of your page.
External Link Building
Building external links into your category page, as well as your home page, is helpful for SEO. The best backlink portfolios are made up of links that are reliable and trustworthy, coming from prestigious websites such as leading online industry journals. A word of warning here though – using black hat SEO methods or artificially acquiring links is far less effective than building your backlink portfolio naturally. It can even be detrimental. Content that is really interesting and engaging should attract links organically as owners of external sites recognise the value in it.
Consider User Intent
It is important to note at this point that there are instances in which you may prefer your product page to rank over your category page. Product pages are filled with persuasive copy and salesmanship aimed at converting traffic into sales. It stands to reason that a certain percentage of users when searching for a general phrase is actually looking for a more specific product. Google’s SERP aims to reflect what users are looking for so it is not inconceivable that this is understood by Google. If some users searching general phrases are ready to buy, it’s better for you (and for Google) that they see your product first. This may explain why product pages rank higher than category pages in some cases.
Follow this advice and you can hope to see improvements in the ranking of your desired page. Think carefully however about user intent and whether you are prioritising the right pages.
Kit Jones works for LeadGeneratorsDigital, a successful and professional SEO agency. London is home to many online marketing companies, but LeadGeneratorsDigital is the one to choose if your business needs a boost. Their content marketing skills and comprehensive SEO packages promise to not only improve your webpage rankings, but also the overall quality of your site.