Taxonomy text length: optimizing your taxonomy page

If you have a WordPress site, you are probably familiar with the terms ‘category’ and ‘tag’. In short, you can use them to structure your site. More on that later. If you add a category or tag, WordPress automatically creates a page for this. Most WordPress themes allow you to optimize these pages, for example by adding a description. That’s why the Yoast readability and SEO analysis show up here as well. The feedback will help you improve your text. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the taxonomy text length check, because it’s slightly different from the text length check for blog posts. In addition, we’ll explain why and how you should optimize your taxonomy pages.

Learn more about this check in Yoast SEO in our explanation of the taxonomy text length assessment.

What are taxonomy pages

Let’s start with explaining what taxonomy pages exactly are. WordPress uses so-called taxonomies to group content. The word ‘taxonomy’ is basically a fancy term for a group of things (website pages, in this case) that have something in common. This is convenient because people looking for more information on the same topic will be able to find similar articles more easily. You can group content in different ways. WordPress has two default taxonomies:

  • categories
  • tags

The difference between a category and a tag mostly has to do with structure. Categories are hierarchical: you can have subcategories and even sub-subcategories. Tags, however, don’t have that hierarchy. Tags just say: “Hey, this article or product has a certain property that might be interesting for a visitor.” Let’s make this a little less abstract. Imagine you have an online shop that offers zero waste products. A category could be [personal care products] and subcategories could be [hair care], [skin care] and [dental care]. Now, a tag could be a particular brand that has products in all three subcategories.

What are archive pages

As mentioned before, WordPress automatically generates a page for each category or tag you create. We call these pages archive pages, because that’s what they do: they archive posts (or products) that have something in common in a central location. These archives can be based on various things: this could be categories and tags, but also the post date and post author, or something else, if you created a custom taxonomy or use a plugin that creates one.

Why are archive pages important for your SEO?

Archive pages are very valuable when it comes to structuring your site. A clear site structure helps both Google and your visitors to understand and navigate your site. And since site structure is an important ranking factor, improving your site structure will also benefit your SEO. In addition, archive pages have a greater chance of ranking high in the search results for more generic keyphrases. If you want to learn more about site structure, then take a look at our Site structure training.

Why should you optimize archive pages?

WordPress automatically creates archive pages, so you don’t have to make them by hand. However, these automatically generated archive pages tend to only consist of a list of posts without any further introduction. So, if visitors land on one of your archive pages, they are left without much explanation about what they are looking at. This increases the chance that people won’t find what they’re looking for, and thus that they will leave the page. And that’s obviously something you don’t want.

How can you optimize archive pages?

To make your taxonomy archives awesome, you often don’t even have to do that much. To optimize your taxonomy archive pages, you should:

  • add a clear heading;
  • add an introduction, where you highlight the content that can be found on the archive page.

You could also add some links to that introductory content pointing to the best posts or pages in that category. This will go a long way in making sure that when a user lands on such a page, he or she doesn’t leave right away. A good archive page should make the user want to read more.

What about the text length of an archive page?

For descriptions on archive pages, we recommend a minimum of 150 words. That’s less than what we recommend for blog posts, but that’s because the description of an archive page has a different purpose than a blog post. Rather than exploring a topic, these descriptions serve as an introduction and guide to the rest of the content on that page. These texts don’t have to be lengthy. You obviously want to rank with these pages though, and that means they need content. Enough content for Google to understand what the page is about and what keyphrase it
should rank for.