How to Make Your WordPress Category Pages Search Engine (and People) Friendly

by Derek Halpern · 109 comments

WordPress SEO

When you create a category page, your theme, by default, lists all of your articles marked with that category.

Some themes show post titles, other themes show full articles, and Thesis gives you the power to change it at will with just a few clicks.

However, if you truly want to make your WordPress category pages both people and search engine friendly, here’s what you can do next:

Create Introductory Content for Category Pages

When people click to your category page, do they really want you to bombard them with all of your articles at once?

Absolutely not.

No one likes to feel overwhelmed on a website. And worse, the overwhelming feeling of clutter triggers immediate distrust.

To solve this, you must create introductory content on your WordPress category pages.

I’ll explain.

Instead of throwing people head first into your content, you set expectations. You tell people what to expect, and what they can learn from the articles in your category.

As an example, let’s say you had a category page all about real estate investing. On your page, you’d introduce the main ideas behind real estate investing, and the types of articles people will find on your site. Then, you should list your articles.

Think about it. From a usability standpoint, people who hit your category page would feel welcomed instead of assaulted.

(Note, adding that content to each category page can be difficult, but I have a simple solution for you later in this article)

Why Introductory Content is Great for Search Engine Optimization

You know the deal.

Google wants to show the BEST pages in their search results because it creates a great user experience for their searchers.

Now, do you think a list of links to your posts is a useful page?

Again, absolutely not.

Google wants to send people to the information, not to a list of links.

When you include introductory content, you turn your category pages from a “list of links” into “the information.”

How Do You Get Your Category Pages Ranking in Search Engines?

Yes, there are different ways to optimize your site for search engines, but in the end, it’s all about the links.

Now I’m not suggesting you buy links, that would be against Google’s Terms of Service.

However, when you turn your category pages into useful resource pages, the links can come naturally.

And, to kick-start the link building, you can make sure your blog posts links to your category pages whenever you mention that category (don’t include more than one link per post).

Or, when you write guest articles, or get featured on other websites, you can simply link your category resource page instead of your home page (if it makes sense to do so).

And that’s all there is to it.

Okay, How Do I Add Introductory Content to Category Pages?

If you use the Thesis Theme Framework, you’re in luck. You can turn your category pages into useful resource pages with introductory content WITHOUT CODE.

When you go into your WordPress administration panel, and navigate to Posts > Categories, and click on one category, you’ll see this interface:

There, you can enter an Introductory Headline and Introductory Content. And then, automatically, Thesis will pull that content to the top of that category page.

If you don’t use Thesis, you can either mess around with WordPress conditional tags, hire a developer, create custom category page templates, or just buy Thesis now.

(Remember, when you buy Thesis, there’s loads of other benefits too. You can read more here. There’s also a 30-day money back guarantee. So, if you don’t love Thesis, you can simply ask for a refund).

About the Author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.

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Dave Doolin

Perfect timing, Derek. I was just looking at my category page last week as a part of an upcoming (and massive) site redesign and reorganization. Turns out one of my category pages is indexed, which I think is pretty cool. This could be because I often link to category pages (and tags, too)

BTW, I know everyone screeches about having categories in permalinks, but Google is giving me breadcrumb links in search results for some queries. I think that’s pretty cool too.

Time now to get started writing intros for category pages…

Derek Halpern

Glad you’re digging it!

Rob @ Atlanta Real Estate


That ability to control CAT pages is one of the many reasons I really like, and have stuck with, Thesis.

Another nice built-in would be the ability to drop the /category/ part of the page URL that WP automatically adds.

I use a plugin for this right now, but don’t trust the long-term viability of smaller plugins like this, especially for such an important task.

Here’s an example of a CAT page on my site:

Derek Halpern

I currently use a plugin for that on some of my sites, too. I believe Chris wants to add that functionality into Thesis, also. Maybe he’ll stop here and comment.

Chris Pearson

Rob, I am 100% in your corner regarding the removal of /category from WordPress archive page URLs.

Semantically, it makes no sense to include a useless, general term like “category” to any URL. For people who are serious about SEO, such useless generalities are completely unacceptable 😀

Case in point, when I reworked my site in January of 2010, I created my own archive pages without the default WordPress URL structure. Check out my web design and SEO archive pages (both of which still need content, as explained in this article!) for examples.

Rob @ Atlanta Real Estate

Yep – those look perfect.

The juice flowing around your site is unbelievable. The 4.3M back links really juice it up.

Avinash D'Souza


Is this currently doable with Thesis?


you mean the 4.5 Million back links can be generated by thesis?. i see that your site has 0 backlinks. you use thesis.

Avinash D'Souza

I meant, can the archive pages be created without the category url slug?


Hi Chris,
I don’t know how old this thread is. I bought thesis few months back and just started using it. I was trying to go to to read and my avast anti-virus prevented me from going there. Can you please check and make sure that your site has not been hacked. I will also send this message through email in the support. I really would like to read the contents of this blog. Do you have any information on building Silo-structured website only using pages. I know some people do not believe in that, but I like the concept and want to build sites based on that. Thank you for your reply.

Marlene Hielema

This is awesome Derek. Thanks for the tutorial!

Vincent Polisi


Talk about quality content and timely information!

We were just revamping our categories this morning and trying to determine what the best structure is for the categories page, site structure, permalinks and SEO after the Kung-Fu Panda update.

Keep the great tutorials coming!

Oh, yeah, BTW, what kind of an idiot would want a refund for Thesis?


Hey Derek, I love my Thesis 🙂 and love learning more and more tips and tricks about it. Definitely going to do this in next few days cause I was planning to do it for some times, but had no clue about all these options.

Note, in the last paragraph, I think you wanted to add a link? Says “You can read more here.”


I had it under my nose and I didn’t saw it. I thought of this a while ago and wanted to build a introductory headline. now it’s much easier as I’m not code savvy 😐 Thanks very much for this post. When will Thesis 2.0 come?

Jamillah Warner

I’m with Manuel, “When will Thesis 2.0 come?”

I am excited and so curious!

What are the upgrades?

Tom van der Valk

Is this also benefitial to tag-pages too? Since Thesis defaults to “no follow, no index” them.

Chris Pearson

Tom, if you’re using tags, this advice applies to them as well.

As far as SEO is concerned, tags can be feast or famine depending on how you use them. Renowned SEO expert Michael Gray is an advocate of intelligent use of WordPress tags; check out his article for a deeper look into the topic.

Ana | Traffic Generation

I love what CopyBlogger does with their category pages, turning the into some incredibly useful and usable content, plus even adding an opt-in form.

I need to start working on my pages like that; seems like the way to go.

Thanks for the info, Derek.


Derek Halpern

Those aren’t category pages on his site. Those are WordPress pages.

Cari Ferraro

This is great information, Derek. But when I add in the Introductory Headline and Introdutory Content, then hit Update, nothing shows up and it doesn’t save it in the Edit Category page either. Three time and still nothing. I know I’m doing something very simple wrong here.
Thanks for the idea though.

Derek Halpern

Are you using the latest version of Thesis?

Cari Ferraro

I am using Thesis 1.8 and WP 3.1.1.

Derek Halpern

Hrm. Let me look into this and get back to you.

Cari Ferraro

Thanks, Derek. I wondered why it wouldn’t just go in the title and meta description above, but I don’t undertand SEO all that well. I also have none of the Robots Meta Tags checked.

Cari Ferraro

Also I don’t have that problem with the category showing up in my URL. I use whatever the default is for WP posts and there is no /category/ in my URL archives. Don’t know if this is germane to the issue or not.

Melanie Jongsma

I was having the same problem, but I have two fields for “Introductory Headline” and two for “Introductory Content.” When I populated them both with the same content, then it saved. I also put my introductory content in the description field.

Cari Ferraro

Thank you, Melanie! I wondered if those duplicate fields for Introductory Title and Content were a glitch, but when I did populate them both with the same content, it showed up where it was supposed to on the website. Even when I deleted one set of the content and update, it automatically refilled the second set of fields. I found it would all still show up even if I didn’t fill in the first Description field at the very top under Title tag. Thank you so much for the solution – it should have been obvious to me but somehow wasn’t, just confusing. Now all is clear!

Marlene Hielema

Thanks Melanie! I had the same problem as Cari. Tried several times. Everything is up to date. My changes just didn’t seem to “stick.” Will try this now.


Derek – I am still having this issue mainly that the changes in the Category fields disappear after I save them. Is this a permissions problem? Let me know what I can do to use this feature..


Chris Pearson

Wasim, what versions of Thesis and WordPress are you running?


Chris – I am using WP 2.9.2 and Thesis 1.8



I just upgraded to the latest version (3.2.1) of Wordpress and it started working. Thanks,

Adam Baird

Introductory category content is one of my favorite Thesis features. As you say, its a great way to add keyword-rich content and give your readers some direction.

You can also use it to add category-specific images, forms, etc. One other thing I think is important to note is that Thesis offers the ability to add this introductory to tags as well as custom taxonomies. That really opens up a ton of possibilities when it comes to managing content/traffic flow/conversions.


Hi Adam (and Derek). You mention adding images and forms to the category intro area….is there some trick to doing this? Or do I just paste the html code directly into the box? Thanks.

Chris Pearson

Sharon, you can paste your HTML directly into the Introductory Content box.


In your example you have got the noindex etc. unchecked. Does checking them stop the SEO effect?

Chris Pearson

David, checking noindex tells the search engines that you do not want this page indexed. This means that the page will not appear in search engines, but it does not mean that the links on this page have no effect.

In order to prevent the links from passing SEO juice, you can simply check the nofollow box.

Marketing Sutra

Thanks, Derek, for the great tutorial!

Richard Barratt

Is this possible?

If the /category/ link is dropped in Thesis 2.0 (can’t wait) can there also be a functionality, once you’re in a post, to browse [previous posts – [next post] within the category

I do know that this can be confusing for users who start browsing from a category page, click on [previous post] after they’ve read an article, and then go to the next post within the blog as opposed to the category.

Any thoughts?

And thank you Derek for another great post! 😀

Richard Barratt

Erm… On the basis that removing /category/ from the permalink can not surely be this easy – can anyone smarter that me (most people) see a reason why this may be a problem:


Hi Derek, At the beginning of this article you mention that Thesis allows you to change whether a post title or full article is shown on the category page. Where do i do that? I’ve looked all over! Thanks, Sharon

Chris Pearson

Sharon, you can find the category page content controls by visiting Design OptionsDisplay OptionsArchives. From here, you’ll be able to choose one of four output styles for your category pages.


Thanks, Chris. One more thing…is there a way to have my post image show in the excerpt and/or teaser?

Chris Pearson

Sharon, in Thesis 1.8, only the thumbnail is available inside the teaser (not the post image).

Keith Jones

Thanks this could be good for a new project.

Melanie Jongsma mentions this above and I am seeing the same:

I have two fields for “Introductory Headline” and two for “Introductory Content.” Is it a bug?

In fact double from Title Tag down to Introductory Content.

I am using WP 3.1.2 and Thesis 1.8.


Keith Jones

Reported bug:

//remove double thesis category options

Joe Manausa, MBA

Derek, I followed your advice and tried to optimize my “Tallahassee Neighborhoods” category page. I think something is wrong … There are three areas duplicating meta information (requesting the same title/description/tags 3 times each). I completed the information and nothing appears when I go to the category url. Is there an option to select somewhere?

Joe Manausa, MBA

OK, let me moron-proof my last comment … When I actually go to the category page,, it works correctly. I’ve read the comments above, is it smart to select/deselect the nofollow/noindex boxes? I understand what they mean, I don’t understand the tactical concept of using/not using them. Also, my question about the 3 duplicate meta sections in the category page still stands… Thanks and great article.

Jamillah Warner

Hi Derek and Chris!

Thanks for the SEO clinic, for this tutorial and of course for Thesis. Listened to your advice–Did it. Happy with it. Preparing to link to it.

And honestly, I never thought of it before I heard you guys say it in the clinic. Here’s my updated marketing and communication page.

I couldn’t figure out how to remove the word category from the category page (without using a plugin), so I just changed it to a word that I talk about on the site. Is that a good or bad idea?

Jamillah Warner


Hi Jamillah,
How did you do that? Sounds cool.

Also, if we had made a lot of links to the URL with category in it, woudl it be possible to set up a 301 redirect to the new URL without category in it? Should this be done by creating a page with the same URL as the old category URL – woudl that work?

Jamillah Warner

Hi Niel, I’m not sure about the redirects (maybe someone else can help) BUT here is how I changed the work from “category” (in the URL) to something else.

Log in to your Wordpress website. Looking in the left sidebar, scroll down to the bottom. Click on “Settings” and then “Permalinks”. It will open up to the right. Look for “Optional Settings” then “Category Base.” Here you can type in the word you want. What you put here will replace the word category.

Hope that helps.


Great advice!


Advice most excellent! I have a lot of tweaking to do (she says, putting on coffee pot number 2 and grabbing a Snickers).

This blog has become my “go to” when I need advice. Thanks!


Thesis is not just a theme, its a SEO optimised CMS itself. I can do whatever i want with it.

Nicholas Tart

Good job adding value and demonstrating the benefits to Thesis, Derek! As far as how to display teasers on your category pages, what do you recommend?


I am really surprised to see my comment not approved but a little note I wrote in it was taken in consideration and the missing link in the post is fixed.

I hope this one will be approved because as a Thesis user, I would like to get an answer to a question.

I tried adding the content but it all got lost for what ever reason. I did add basic HTML tags to it. Can we use tags basic tags in the content, like bold, paragraph, or image?

If not, how to create paragraphs if we want to break the text.


Thank you for this article on adding the introduction to the category! I’m implementing it now, as you can see on the category called “Canada Coupons & Deals” here at the top in red:
Now if only I could lose the ‘category’ word in the URL–do you know of a way that won’t affect SEO?
Thanks again!


Hi Ranae,

Sugarrae recommended the plugin Wordpress SEO by Yoast. I got and it works great..does exactly what you are asking for.

Extreme John

This is hot like fire Derek, love the idea of opening up the category pages with a little somethin’ somethin’. I never even considered that, killer tip.


I just finished setting up my “Thesis” theme. I’m just about ready to start writing my reviews. Your information could NOT have been more timely. Your article was exceptional! It’s easy to understand and impliment and the SEO information was something I really needed.

Your information on how to write reviews taught me things I’d never even considered doing or even knew about. Please write more articles!!

Just a word of praise for the Thesis theme. Best theme I’ve ever used. I’m so glad I bought it.

Thank You,


Hi Derek and Chris …and anyone else who might be willing to help me!

I am putting together Category pages, and I have post excerpts at the bottom with thumbnail images. BUT…I cannot figure out how to get the thumbnail image to be the size I want. All the controls on the post’s edit area, and in the Design Options, seem to pertain only to excerpts on the actual blog page…not on the category page. I even turned on thumbnails by inserting into custom_functions.php : add_theme_support( ‘post-thumbnails’ ); …and it still didn’t work! Help! Thanks, Sharon


Thanks for that. I had been using a custom hook to do this, but it places my description ABOVE the category title.

By the way, can we get something similar for taxonomy as well please? That would be great!

Kenneth Newhams

As some above have said; when edit a category, there are two and sometime 3 duplicate sets of desc, meta key, intro headline and Introductory Content. That number changes sometimes; maybe only 2 sets; also sometimes it copies data from one to anther dup sets. I am also having trouble seeing the updates. I am also using the plugin All in One SEO Pack. I was all excited about fixing up my categories but have spent 3 hours trying to figure this out. Any help would be greatly appreciated: thanks Ken

Chris Pearson

Ken, we released version 1.8.1 to address the issue of duplicate data fields on edit category pages. Also, since you’re using Thesis, there’s no need for the All-in-One SEO plugin.

Kenneth Newhams

Thanks; updated and everything works fine; i also deactivated All in One SEo.

ron chordigian

good stuff, i was looking into how to better use pages, this is a great way to do that, thanks Derek


Sounds great, hoping to switch one of our sites over to the thesis framework when I can figure out how to… 🙂


This was very helpful. Now I can finish my blog.


I’m a newbie at Wordpress and proud of it. I made the move from Blogger last week and I will never look back.

I have also made an informed decision to not get a web hotell to host my own blog. You blink and there is updates that you need to do and *swish* your site is outdated. I’m sticking with and I’m missing out on this great tip. I use a theme that is pretty good, it shows a desription. It would be nice to have the other stuff too.

Can’t you get your theme into their gallery?

Mike Corso


When you say ‘Thesis Theme Framework’ is that just Thesis or is there something else in Thesis (framework) that I don’t get?

Thanks for this tip–great stuff….can’t believe I haven’t been doing it!!

Mike Corso
Cool Site of the Day
The Internet’s Oldest Directory

Martin Reed

I’ve been using this feature, however it’s annoying that the introduction appears on every archive page for that specific category. For example, you click on the category and see the introduction, great. You scroll down and click ‘Previous Entries’ to continue exploring, but see the same introduction again. Is there any way to have the introduction appear only on the first page? There is no need for it to be repeated on every page – wouldn’t possible duplication penalties apply, too?


Can any one analyze my blog and give some SEO tips to improve search engine visibility,


Thanks for this great info. Thesis ROCKS. I recommend it to everyone I talk to looking to start a website or blog.

Ian Brodie

Good gravy. I’ve been a Thesis user for years and had no idea you could do this.

In fact on some sites I’ve gone as far as creating replacement pages for categories and replicating the loop code all so I could add introductory text!



I’ve come to really dislike dealing with tags and categories. They are just too much clutter, too hard to organize and I’d rather not deal with them at all at this point. I wish there were some way to have tag and category suggestions come up based on the keywords I used as I typed in the post. Would make my life a lot simpler. Maybe you’ve got something in the works for Thesis 2?

George Zapo

Thank you Derek! I appreciate all the work you’re doing in helping us improve ourselves online! I’ve been using Thesis for about a year and it has helped me achieve my goals.

I have a question regarding the content that goes into the “Description”, “Meta Description” and “Introductory Content,” as well as the “Title Tag” and “Introductory Headline.” Is it necessary to reword the content so Google does not see “duplicate content” in those fields? I look forward to your reply…


Derek, thanks.

I’ve managed to do this for two of my Category pages, but I wonder, once that
done, is there a way to then manipulate color, font, font size etc. of just only the
Introductory Content?


Kate Foy

Terrific tips. Cheers, Derek. Perfect for my site now I’m clear which category posts are magnets for readers.

ron chordigian


thanks for the great support you provide, i like how you make it simple.


Dear Derek,

I have successfully added introductory text to 2 of my Category pages, but now I can’t seem to be able to change or even delete it.

If I go to Posts > Categories, I cannot see or alter any of the introductory text, but what’s more, at the right hand side of the page it shows ‘descriptions’, but that I had done earlier (and didn’t show anywhere on my blog anyway).

Can you help out here?




Thanks for the info!

Doing this (and only in Thesis can you do this so easily-thanks Thesis!) means every category page becomes a resource page for your reader. That means you’ll have more readers converting, if you put in an opt-in on that page as well.


Absolutely love Thesis. However, I am losing my mind trying to figure out why this feature does not show on my “edit category” page. I can only see the standard options. I installed Thesis for my husband’s site and everything looks fine. Any plugin conflict? The only difference is my site is using the “maintenance mode” plugin. Did I check or uncheck some options that I shouldn’t have?

Chris Pearson

Pei, all you need to do is upgrade to Thesis 1.8.2, and that will solve your problem.

Vijay Sharma

Hi Derek/Chris, Is there a easy way to remove generic words from the category urls. Basically I want my category pages to be like http://// and not http:///category/. I understand that I can create a custom page for my categories but what I am trying to find is if there is any other simpler way.


Hi Vijay,

I use the WP No Category Base plugin which seems to do the trick and gets rid of that uneccesarry /category/ branch in your URL. Here’s the plugin page:

Hope that Helps!


I just tried to do this with my Five-Minute Yoga Challenge category page. The options you describe only show up under Add New Category.
When I tried an existing category, nothing changed.
Any thoughts?


Hi Derek/Chris

A question that has been asked a couple of times here and not answered as far as I could see is whether or not repeating the category intro content on multiple pages would lead to duplicate content issues.

Can you enlighten me on the answer to that please?

Jenn Hisir

Hi Derek and Chris,
Thank you for all the information. I am trying to implement everything I learn from you guys. I appreciate it. We have a handmade jewelry blog that we work on it all the time to improve. I just created introductory content for category pages and I will link the related articles. I do not want to ask you if you have time to check my blog to see what else I can do as you would not have time for it. Thanks again and best wishes 🙂

Rajesh@Tips and Tricks

Is it necessary to show category to search engines, it will create duplicate content. We are using nofollow for category, tags and for archive.


Excellent tips! I agree, clutter triggers immediate distrust, and it causes people to be overwhelmed and not know where to start, so they click away.

Flow @ Web Hosting Guide

I was just creating some code for category pages on a site I was working on until I found this post. It seems you just saved me a few hours of work.

Mick Dickinson

It works. Now I have to go back and revise my chaotic categories! Thanks (I think) 😉


Why doesn’t this thread have any dates? IMHO, anything like this needs a date so the reader can determine relevance. The web changes too frequently. I just don’t get it cuz it must be intentional.

Tony (Dec 2011)

I’d have to agree with you Leslie.

Many times I read a post in some time specific category, i.e. seo, only to find out right at the last moment that the article was written 2-yrs ago!

Elizabeth Almann

Great article on using categories! It always helps me to know now just HOW to do something in WordPress but also WHY. I just bought Thesis and installed it on one of my own sites to play with it and see how it works… and I was honestly starting to freak out a bit that it was going to be too techy for me. But your insight was great and I can tell now that with the content support and tutorials I’m in the right place. Plus I just really get a kick out of the BIG ASS SAVE button.

The Nerdy Nurse

I’ve signed up for many SEO, wordpress, and social media emails. You’re are almost always helpful and informative. They are also short enough for me to actually have to time to read!
I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate that!

Kristen B.

I wish I could buy thesis wordpress to be able to benefit from making my category pages into search engine friendly. I didn’t pay much attention to category pages before since I only focus on the headlines, tags and the content itself. Maybe I should look for other things that I could help me improve my website while I am saving for thesis wordpress. Thanks for the insights.

Mick @ Affiliate Marketing Tips

Makes a lot of sense to get some useful content on the category pages. Simple tips like this make me realise I should have bought THesis a lot sooner than I did.


I wonder no body answered the duplicate content passing all the pages in same category
For example
Here is Top Page of
Here is Next Page (Page 2)

Same with Page 3, 4 and so on with same introductory content and Same Title Meta. Because I am rising this point here as I was working one of my affiliate website with wordpress and was facing the same problem to manage the products and category. I applied Introduction and little content on category page but there were around 100+ products in each category and created around 25+ page with same title and meta. I got hit back in Google and lost many of my rankings

I just want you guys to turn off the introductory part on next page so google can find unique category page.

Please correct me if I am wrong…


Derek, Chris,

Can you comment on the above?


Derek Halpern

Personally, I believe you should use the plugin “Different posts per pages” and disable category pagination. Show all posts on the same page.


Just set sub-pages to be noindex within Thesis meta tags options – job done, no plugins needed!

Dale Moore

I appreciate the tips. I had my categories done but I didn’t know where those two fields fed so I left them blank.


Very useful information on category page seo. Early, I used to maintain separate post for listing category pages. Now I will try with your concept. Thank you very much.


Hi Derek, awesome article! I’ve a related question if you don’t mind. I’m currently using Thesis but it won’t let me edit any of the “SEO Details” for categories. In other words, I hit on editing a category and all I get is Name, Slug, Parent, and Description. I’m interested in editing the “Introductory Content” for my categories but the option is just not there! I’ve heard something about this being a bug. Any thoughts on this?



Is having the word “category” in your URL a bad thing when it comes to search engines finding a particular page of your site?
I have a site which I created with dreamweaver, which doesn’t have this problem (if it is a problem).
I also have a site which I created with wordpress where this idea seems to be prevalent in every post I make.
I included the links to show as an example, hope that’s ok.

Susan S.


I’d just like to increase the number of posts listed on my Category page from three to five. Anyone know the easiest way to do that?

Detective Bryan

I started giving a good description about my categories after going through this post. Traffic and rankings have not seen a sharp rise, but something significant. Thanks for the post 🙂

Jack Trades

True, Thesis is not just “a theme”, it’s the theme.