An often overlooked part of creating a food blog is the category pages, which double as recipe indexes, grouping recipes that share certain characteristics.
Actually, this is a mistake that almost every food blogger makes, aside from the top ones who’ve been tweaking and refining the longest.
The problem? These pages usually have no content on them. Web pages with little-or-no unique content are known as “thin content pages” and are a negative signal for search engines. Not only that, but filling out your category pages helps Google to understand what the rest of the blog is about.
And your visitors could benefit on some background information.
So we’ve added this to our best practices for food bloggers.
Note: When we say these are “pages”, what we mean is that they’re a discoverable webpage on your website, not a WordPress admin “page”.
How do you add content to category pages?
Great news: all our themes have a built-in editor for category content. Simply navigate to any of your category pages while logged into the admin, and you’ll find this handy little “edit category” link in your admin bar.
Or you can navigate to Admin > Posts > Categories and edit them just like posts, using the Archive Intro Text field
Then hit “Update” at the bottom and voila!
How long should the content be?
We recommend aiming for a paragraph: 3-4 sentences. Simply describe which recipes will be found on this category, and why you have it as a category on your website. Keep it:
If you can’t come up with enough content for 3 sentences, it’s probably not an important enough category to have on your website and should be removed.
We’d also recommend linking to a piece of cornerstone content from the paragraph, using the rich text editor built into the Archive Intro Text field.
How many category pages should I have?
As many as you need, but don’t go overboard. Your important pages are your posts, so keep your effort focused on those.
Aim for a minimum 4 posts that you can fill the page with before creating a category for that specific ingredient or topic.
Your categories also shouldn’t compete with your posts. For example, don’t have an “gluten free pancakes” recipe and “gluten free pancakes” post. Categories should be broad and vague-ish, and ideally single keywords, posts should be specific.
This is a good opportunity to make sure you’re targeting the best keywords for your blog, and adding it to the Archive Headline field in the “edit category” page.
While “Gluten Free” is an accurate title for this page, “Gluten Free Recipes” is even better. The more specific and relevant you can be, the better. Your blog may have:
- Healthy Gluten Free Recipes
- Best Gluten Free Recipes
- Vegan Gluten Free Recipes
- Easy Gluten Free Recipes
- Gluten Free Dessert Recipes
Choosing the right keyword is a balance of relevance, search volume, and competition levels for your blog level.
A bad choice for the recipe title would be: “You Can’t Find Any Better Gluten Free Recipes Than These That Are So Good You’ll Want to Slap Your Mother”.
Categories vs. Tags
Categories and tags serve essentially the same purpose, and shouldn’t be used at the same time. Ideally, use categories, and don’t use tags. If you’re using some plugin that filters by tags, make sure the tags pages are noindexed and links to those pages are nofollowed.
How to Prioritize Updating
It’s going to take some work to add about 100 words to every category. The best thing to do is just to start knocking them out, and refine it later. In priority sequence:
- Pages that get traffic from search engines and already rank – use Google Webmaster Tools to sort by traffic descending, and filter pages with the “category” keyword
- Pages that get visits but aren’t landing pages – use Google Analytics and sort by pageviews, then filter pages with the “category” keyword
- If the above is too much work or too complicated for you, just do it alphabetically
How do you prioritize it relative to your other work as a food blogger? If this is missing and you have a blog with a couple thousand monthly pageviews, I’d say it’s more important than doing your social media, adding a new recipe or answering your emails. Do it right now.
If you’ve just started out, we recommend removing the “categories” portion of the categories URL altogether, so that visitors see a simple URL. See: https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-properly-rename-categories-in-wordpress/
If your blog has been running for a while, you’ll need to balance the change in URL with lost rankings and time it takes to create redirects.
Categories to Remove
Remove categories that:
- Aren’t relevant to your blog
- Have no visits in Google Analytics
- Compete with recipe pages (ie. category name is too specific)
Yoast Not Counting Text
If you have the premium version of Yoast, you’ll find that it won’t pick up the content in the Archive Intro Text to give you a rating. This is fine.
Too busy and want to hire someone to do it for you? Reach out to us and we’ll help.
Do you know a food blogger who’s missing content on their category pages? Share it!