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Want more search traffic?
Of course, you do!
As bloggers, we’re always looking for new ways to get more traffic, and here’s the thing…
We’re used to getting more search traffic by doing keyword research, publishing new posts, and building links. But there’s some low-hanging fruit right under your nose.
In a short period of time, you can optimize your existing category pages to pull in new visitors every month.
You won’t need to write much either.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn three easy steps you can follow to optimize all of your post categories so they can rank well in Google and bring you more search traffic.
Add a unique, keyword-rich description
Were you blogging when Google’s Panda update came out?
If so, then you’ll recall how sites with thin content got punished. Ever since then, webmasters have been careful to make sure all the pages on their site have plenty of text on them. Your category pages are no different.
Instead of simply listing all your latest posts, you should also add a unique description to the top of the page.
This is a great place to include lots of synonyms and related keywords too.
With a keyword-rich description, your category page can rank for longtail keywords and also boost the relevance of the posts linked to on the page.
How to add a description to a category
Adding the description is easy. In your WordPress dashboard, hover over the Posts menu and select Categories. In the Categories menu, you can select any category to edit it.
On the next page, you can use the Description box to enter in your unique description text.
When you’re done, just hit the Update button to save the description.
While the description isn’t guaranteed to display, most well-crafted WordPress themes will show the description at the top of the category page.
That’s a screenshot of the description showing on an archive page using the Challenger WordPress theme.
Feature your best posts
Entice your readers!Instead of simply displaying your most recent posts, feature a couple of your best posts at the top of the archive page.
This will get more of your visitors to click-through and read your content. With strong internal linking and related posts, you can get them to keep reading more from there.
How to feature posts on each category
You can keep a post “sticky” in one category by using the Category Sticky Post plugin.
Activate it on your site and visit the post editor. At the bottom of the right sidebar, you’ll see the new Category Sticky option.
This screenshot was taken with the Gutenberg editor active, but it works well with the classic editor too.
By default, the Category Sticky Post plugin will add a black border above and below the post, but you can turn this off by checking the “Hide Sticky Post Border” box.
Add a CTR optimized meta description
Now that your category has a unique description, it has a much better chance of ranking in Google.
Google can use the description to auto-generate a meta description, but you can improve the click-through rate you get by writing your own.
The key is to optimize the length of the meta description and also include a call-to-action.
Neil Patel has some more tips on optimizing your meta description if you want more traffic.
How to add a meta description to categories
If you’re a follower of The Blog Metrics then I’m guessing you already have Yoast SEO installed on your site 🙂
If not, then go download & install it now! It’s the best plugin you can add to improve your WordPress site’s SEO.
With Yoast SEO installed, return to the category editing page. Below the description, you’ll see the Yoast SEO optimization box.
Click the Edit snippet button and you’ll reveal the Meta Description box.
The snippet preview will update as you type so you can see exactly how your description will look on the Google results pages.
The progress bar will help you write a meta description that fits within the best practices for character length too.
Optimize your description
Yoast SEO can help you optimize the category description shown on the page too.
If you’ve enabled the SEO analysis tools, you’ll find the focus keyphrase and readability analysis features displayed in the Yoast SEO box.
This will help you to optimize the category description to include your focus keyphrase and keep it easy to read. The result will be more traffic coming to your site.
Get more traffic with optimized archives
Follow these steps for all of your category pages and you’ll be getting more search traffic in no time.
To summarize, the steps to optimize your category landing pages are:
- Add a unique, keyword-rich description
- Feature your best posts at the top
- Add a CTR-optimized meta description
With the right WordPress theme and a couple of new plugins, you can complete these steps for each category in a short period of time.
Have any questions about optimizing your categories or using the tools discussed in this post? Leave a comment below.
Author Bio: Ben Sibley is the founder of Compete Themes. Visit their theme collection to find a minimalist, mobile-friendly, and easy-to-customize WordPress theme (for free).