Dumb SEO Question: Should you include categories/and or tags in a site…

Dumb SEO Question: Should you include categories/and or tags in a sitemap?

Tyler Daniel: no. noindex them.

Yaretzi Sherman: I have category pages ranked on page 1 for good search terms…

Michael Frazier: no,

Tyler Daniel: good for you. you should rank hub pages, not categories. (unless you are in a non competitive niche, then just rank however you like and why bother asking?)

Yaretzi Sherman: I was asking about whether to include in sitemap? Which I dont believe is exactly the same as having them indexed – or is it? (need to engage my brain on that)

Tyler Daniel: thing is sitemap are listed (included) there so the bot can easily find and index them. No seo value from that per se. (since the bot will find it without the sitemap either way)

Lucy Welch: If they have sufficient high-quality unique content, yeah. The big issue here is that nobody spends any time building up these pages and it is easy to forget. Large sites like Ebay are filled with such pages, but they invest in making them useful on their own for real users. Same discussion as the index-noindex decision for the same pages.

Yaretzi Sherman: Having engaged my brain, I guess IF indexed then would they usually be in the sitemap anyway?

Lucy Welch: Pages can be in the sitemap and not indexed. Googles decision to include a page or not in their index is based on quality not how you submit that page. Also, sitemaps are not a requirement. You can be fully indexed without a sitemap.

Lucy Welch: Support.google.com

Learn about sitemaps – Search Console Help

Michael Frazier: i have one client site in particular that has over 5 000 categories and near 100 000 tags, adding this to the sitemap brings no benefit at all, google will index it with or without the sitemap, its just one less thing to monitor, creating an HTML sitemap of this would serve no user benefit either. generally, you would keep your main content in your xml sitemap just to double confirm to google what you wanted spidered

Lucy Welch: These should probably be de-indexed then (meta noindex).

Michael Frazier: i have them excluded already, was just saying an extreme example of why not to

Michael Frazier: just to clarify, this is an ecommerce site with 100k products

Jolene Love: If I were using categories and tags correctly, yes.If I had 14 posts in 618 categories with 294,375 tags, I would fix that first.

Michael Frazier: lol

Miguel Cox: I NEVER include tags. I ALWAYS include categories. Why people noindex categories is insane to me. If I sell a category called widgets, why the hell would I not want my category page to rank? Beyond bizarre.

Lucy Welch: This used to be my stance, but with the latest quality expectations, the category pages better be sufficiently good by themselves is my new stance.

Miguel Cox: Francois-Pierre yeah, well I do live in a world that demands the quality needed to justify it. Γ°ΕΈΛœΕ“

Iris Glover: Most people are thinking of default blog setups with category pages being snippets only I guess.

Jolene Love: And apparently, thinking of tags as something that isnt an aid to navigation.

Yaretzi Sherman: My own view is that whether categories and tags are used may well be dependent on the content/structure/niche of the website.

Leah Sandoval: My two-cents…Heres why you dont index categories or tags, especially on WordPress, I can count on ONE hand the the amount of blogs Ive audited that actually generated traffic from these taxonomies. They just dont get visited….See more

Scarlet Dawson: Casey / Alan / Neil I typically deindex but will leave some open (index and wildcard allow) which are getting traffic, and look at ways to add original content to those cat pages. Then add to custom sitemap if needed.

Lucy Welch: Scarlet Dawson: Voila.

Scarlet Dawson: The problem is, people tend to go crazy in WP with categories and tagging. Tagging makes sense for internal architecture if needed, but not with Google. I strictly consider those pages as non external search related (kind of like PPC or offer pages). B…See more

Leah Sandoval: Loren, I think thats fine if you want to invest the billable time to do that. But in the vast majority of audit cases, you are never going to garner enough traffic picking and choosing category pages and filling those out with enough unique content…See more

Scarlet Dawson: I also strike out Author Pages unless there is benefit or original content to them. For example, on SEJ we try to spruce them up. Long term is to turn them into mini AboutMe or LinkedIn profiles on the site. Add more benefit and the pages do get traffic. Also, dealing with marketers who are as guilty of vanity searches as real estate agents and plastic surgeons πŸ™‚

Scarlet Dawson: Casey I agree, unless there are some needles in haystack which are getting a lot of traffic, then setting up a custom robots is not that time consuming.

Leah Sandoval: Loren, for a multi-author blog, yes on the author pages. For a single-author blog, no. Better to just block it completely as well as the paginated issues that arise. Those dont get visited.Instead, for the vanity searches you trick-out a kick-ass About Me page. Works better and ranks higher anyway.

Scarlet Dawson: Casey, yep, different scenarios call for different use cases. Scenarios being type of blog, management of site and length / type of contract. Its kind of interesting because most of our audits turn into long time gigs, not one and done, so to an exten…See more

Leah Sandoval: Loren, I hear ya.A big difference as well is that I dont do long-term maintenance, period. I do auditing, consulting, and training. They get the audit and recommendations and if they need long-term support I send them off to a vetted vendor. So I ge…See more

Scarlet Dawson: Oh, Im going to Pubcon πŸ˜€

Scarlet Dawson: By the way, this discussion would make a great flow chart.

Yaretzi Sherman: I have added content to both category and tag urls… it seems to work in the structure… and tags/category pages are ranked… I was curious as to whether I should add them to sitemap or whether search engines would pick them up automatically..

Lucy Welch: Yaretzi Sherman: Are you proud of these pages or do you want to leave it to Google to make the call? This is the real question vs. the sitemap. You should add all the pages you are proud about to the sitemap. You may want to add a good sample of these …See more

Yaretzi Sherman: I wouldnt say proud – I would say relevant and useful to the user – category pages started creeping up the rankings without me doing anything… (they were obviously indexed) – I then added some content to the category pages… and that has helped some more

Lucy Welch: Yaretzi Sherman: I say proud on purpose, it means you have done more than merely consider usefulness, you have considered it a lot. You want to go up, all the way up (60-70% of the business in the top 3), and stay there. Thats the goal.

Miguel Cox: Once again, this comes down to whats best for each individual site, situation and circumstance. My initial comment about ALWAYS allowing category indexation is one that is accompanied by rules and requirements for the quality, refined focus, and va…See more

Miguel Cox: As for tags, I also have rules about IF theyre going to be used, there are several tasks that need to be done to determine which to keep, which to allow in the index, and on scale, the overwhelming majority of site owners would be better off killing tags entirely, so they can focus on much more important work.