Skip to 17:09 in the video to hear John’s take on category pages.

As we may know, many websites have what’s called category pages. These are top level pages for a specific section of your website, such as a ‘Services’ page that links out to individual pages for each service. If you have an e-commerce website you’re sure to have numerous category pages for different types of products.

From a navigation standpoint, category pages can help keep your website information organized in a content hierarchy. But many SEOs and website owners also want these pages to rank in the SERPs. This can be a bit of a struggle for some sites.

Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller shared a bit of information on the subject in a Google hangout video chat. He basically boiled it down to one question.

Are Your Category Pages Useful to Users?

John noted that if your category pages aren’t ranking well the first thing you should consider is how useful they are to users. The ultimate goal for Google is to deliver up the web pages that they feel provide the most value based on the search query.

Many standard category pages contain little more than links to other pages such as sub-categories. On these types of category pages, Google uses the information to discover more about the products, services, etc. that are being linked to. When this is the case, the product or service pages are more likely to show up in the SERPs since they provide more details.

In summation - Google may consider individual sub-category pages to be more useful than a broad category page because they contain specific information rather than just links. As a result, Google may bypasses some category pages.

How to Make Your Category Pages More Useful for Users

The question then becomes, “How do I make my category pages more useful?” In a word – content.

You can use titles tags, headers and an optimized H1, which is advisable for any web page. This gives search spiders information, but it doesn’t really make the page more useful for users. You’ve got to go a step further if you want your category pages to rank well.

The main objective is to include high quality on-page content that provides useful, relevant information. A few ideas to consider include:

  • Specific information about the topic, product, service, etc.
  • Background information for your business.
  • A snippet of unique content on each page/product/service being linked to. (If you include the same content that’s on a category sub-page Google will probably give the sub-page more weight.)
  • An FAQ related to the category.
  • Information about the brand(s) and its UVP.
  • Directions on what action the user should take next, how to order, etc.
  • Comparisons of products, services, etc.
  • Highlight bestsellers or popular models/products.

Exactly what content is included on the category page isn’t as important as making sure it’s useful. You can also add contextually relevant images, links to buyer guides and other helpful tools to boost the usefulness of your category pages.

Need help getting your category pages to the top of SERPs? The three-pronged approach we take at SearchRPM ensures that your category pages are fully optimized.

We start by improving the technical SEO so that the navigation is logical and the functionality of pages is sound. We’ll then put together a content strategy that includes keyword research and the creation of high quality web copy. Once that’s done we’ll begin promoting your pages to gain positive feedback, reviews and links.

Give us a call today or visit online to start with a Free SEO Report.

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By Michael Ramirez
SearchRPM Founder


Michael Ramirez is the Founder of SearchRPM, an Austin, TX based search marketing company that’s well-versed in Search Engine Optimization best practices. You can follow Michael Ramirez on Twitter @openmic0323 or on Google+ to see what he’s up to next.