Boost Your Search Engine Ranking With Category Pages

August 30, 2023
The Objective Team

Web search is the most common way people discover, research, and engage with online retailers and content websites. On-site search is a close second and social search third:

Source: Forrester Research

Given that Web search is driving as much or more on-site engagement as on-site search, effective SEO doesn’t just help with awareness - it’s critical to ongoing sales and engagement.

In this article, we’ll show you five ways Category Pages can boost your SEO and get your site ranking higher on search engine results. We previously wrote about what Category Pages are and why they’re great. In case you missed it:

A Category Page shows a collection of items related by a concept (e.g. a Category Page for “camping gear” would contain tents, portable stoves, headlamps, etc).

Let’s look at how Category Pages can help with SEO.

1. Category Pages Improve Site Structure and Navigation
A well-structured site enables search engines to crawl and understand how your information is organized. In general:

  • Your homepage should contain your most competitive and high-volume keywords.
  • The pages one level down should contain the less competitive and mid-volume keywords.
  • Further down are the deep pages which handle low volume or highly specific keywords.

Category Pages are ideal for the pages deep in the hierarchy. Here’s why:

  • Since they handle long-tail and specific keywords, you can create hundreds or thousands of them depending on your site’s content, with each Category Page laser-focused on a particular concept  (e.g. “2-person tents under $200”).
  • They accumulate internal links to pages higher in the hierarchy, which can help ranking.
  • Category Pages can be added to a sitemap to help crawlers discover all your content, enhancing your site’s discoverability and ease of navigation.
A hierarchical site structure with Category Pages at the bottom lets you capture lots of unique long-tail searches. It’s a battle-tested and effective way to compete for search engine rankings.

2. Category Pages Are Ideal for Presenting Up-To-Date and Fresh Content
Search engines favor fresh, updated content, especially for time-sensitive topics like news, sports, and entertainment. Category pages can dynamically aggregate time-sensitive content, helping it compete for better rankings.

For example, an entertainment site might have a “Newest Netflix Shows” Category Page that regularly gets refreshed with the latest releases.

As a bonus, time-sensitive content that’s well presented and fresh can lead to longer on-page time and reduced bounce rates, which are also signals that search engines consider.

3. Category Pages Ensure Optimal Page Load Speeds
Page speed is critical for SEO since it impacts user experience. Google is transparent about this and even offers a free utility that tests your site’s load time and offers feedback on areas to improve.

Traditionally, when a page full of products or other resources is loaded, it involves a round-trip database query, which slows the page down. But if your Category Page can be assembled ahead of time, site speed can be improved through pre-rendering. Pre-rendered Category Pages can be cached on CDNs worldwide, resulting in lightning-fast loading times, improved user experience, and higher SEO scores.

A Google page speed analysis for wikipedia.com

Take the “Newest Netflix Shows” example we just talked about. This Category Page won’t change minute to minute, so making repeated database calls to load the same information is wasteful. By pre-rendering this Category Page, your user will experience instantaneous load times and your site could gain a higher ranking. And when the page content does change, you can use cache-busting to ensure the latest content is shown.

4. Category Pages Match Content to Search Intent
Every time a user searches, they have some intent - to solve a problem, learn about a topic, be entertained, or buy something. Engines such as Google gauge how well a page addresses the user’s intent and factors that into ranking. Category pages play a useful role here.

If you understand the different intentions of your user base, then you can create Category Pages to uniquely address them.

For example, if you’re an art marketplace that knows users typically search using themes, you can create Category Pages such as “abstract art” or “Japanese art”.

Or utilize goal-oriented Category Pages like the following example. Here, a user queries Google with “art for home office” which results in a bunch of relevant Category Pages from various sites. In this case, Etsy occupies the top ranking, and clicking the link takes the user to Etsy’s “Home Office Art” Category Page.

Etsy's "Home Office Art" category page occupies the top spot for this query

By creating Category Pages to cover all the ways you know your customers search, you can better align your content with search intent, helping your site rank higher for targeted search queries.

5. Category Pages Make It Easier to Build Backlinks
Backlinks are links from other websites to yours. They’re essential for SEO because they signal to search engines that other sites vouch for your content, and can significantly improve your site’s credibility and ranking.

Category Pages serve as relevant, well-defined destinations for other sites to link to. For example, if you run a financial news site, an investment blog can link to your “Latest IPOs” Category Page.

Category pages simplify the linking process, and make it easy to build quality backlinks.

Generate Category Pages at the Speed of Thought
As we discussed in our last post, manually creating Category Pages is a tedious affair. But fortunately, there’s now a better way.

We're piloting Smart Category Pages, an upcoming enhancement for our Multimodal Search and Discovery Platform. The idea is simple:

Building Category Pages manually is tedious and time-consuming, so let AI do the work instead.

You just create a Smart Category with a descriptive name, e.g. “camping gear”, and from there, our system automatically gathers the right items for your Category Page. That’s it!

With Smart Category Pages, what used to take several steps is handled by AI, with you overseeing the work. You get the freedom to generate accurate and rich Category Pages that boost your search engine ranking, enable your team to respond rapidly to trends, and open new, creative ways to drive traffic.

Interested in Smart Category Pages? Request Early Access here.

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