Being able to customise your WordPress category and tag pages can really help with your website. These archive pages should be adapted to clearly define the theme of the topic. This helps users to understand your category or tag. As a bonus it also helps search engines understand the topic of the page.
Starting a category page in WordPress with a nice eye-catching image then a few words of what the archive is about helps to set your web site apart from the countless other WordPress website there are now. Generally, you always had to know code to get your archive page looking good. But that is not essential with the Category Editor Pro plugin. This plugin gives you many options to really set apart your archives, including your category pages.
Customised WordPress category pages without coding
Category Editor Pro offers lots of different options for designing your archive page. The free version, which you can download through your WordPress dashboard, also provides a good range of customisation options.
Both versions of the plugin allows you to customise the description of category and tag pages, provided your theme supports this WordPress option. Through a simple editor box that is added to the description area you can add images and format text. Not only that but the plugin makes the description area shortcode enabled. This means you can add most shortcodes that come with WordPress plugins and they will work in the archive description area.
The Pro version goes a step further and adds an additional text area below the post listings of the archive. This can really help you to boost your archive pages for both users and search engines.
Customising the category description area
My personal recommendation is to use the top description area to add a nice image to highlight the topic and then at most 3 or 4 paragraphs of text. This should include your major keywords that you are targeting with your archive page. It should be quite bouncy and punchy in style. Don’t make it too long because if people are clicking through to a post list they don’t want to read through an essay to get to the list. A few descriptive paragraphs is all that is needed.
Both the top and bottom description text areas are set to show only on the first page of blog post listings. This is ideal for search engines as it means they are not being fed duplicate descriptions. It also helps with user experience as visitors do not need to read he same thing over and over again.
Adding additional content and media to WordPress archive pages
The bottom description area which comes with the Pro version is where you aim your long-tail keyword text. Here you can build out the page with media such as additional images and videos. We know that Google likes media rich pages so add some suitable media here.
It’s also a good place to add structured mark-up such as a FAQ section. Google is giving a bit of love to pages at the moment with structured park up so take advantage. If you don’t know how to write up structured content then do a search of WordPress for a plugin. I used the Structured Content plugin and the shortcodes work well with the Category Editor Pro plugin.
Boosting Facebook Sharing with OG image
Using Category Editor Pro gives you the option to attach an image to be used when your category is shared. I tend to use the recommended image size of 1200px x 630px which is for Facebok. Most of my posts and products are shared on Facebook so that is the image size I opt for. Obviously if your posts are mainly shared on Twitter or Linkedin then you will use an image size best suited for that platform.
This is a good facility for when you use an SEO plugin that does not include og image options for categories and tag pages. Some of the SEO plugins do but not all. I added this og image field because it works better for my needs.
Enhanced custom menus for WordPress
Adding content relative to the category and tag topic is important for both visitors and search engines to understand what that archive is about. But also presenting archives such as categories to your web site visitors is just as important.
Unfortunately WordPress by default does not allow for category images or tag images. This makes it difficult to build graphical menus for web visitors. Graphical menus and navigation are very effective and in many cases preferred by web visitors over text navigation.
Both the Pro and free version of Category Editor will allow you to set an image for each category and tag page. There is also a shortcode option to be able to display these images and links to the archives. There is a basic shortcode for categories and one for tags which displays the image and archive title in an unordered list. This lets you style up how you want using css. There is also an option to use a shortcode to call specific categories and tags using their id number. This is ideal for building specific navigation menus when you want to highlight particular categories or tags.
Boosting brand on WordPress archives
By adding content to your archive pages and having control over how that content is presented helps you to boost your brand image. You can add your style of tone and theme to category pages. You can also use the opportunity to highlight your brand mission or message.
Many web sites underestimate how important a category page can be to both users and search engines. To often the pages are left as nothing more than a list of other pages. In today’s competitive world of websites this is a waste of a valuable resource. Every opportunity should be used to help promote your web page and encourage return visitors.
On the web sites I run on a commercial basis the category pages regularly feature in the top 10 of pages visited. They provide a regular and consistent stream of organic traffic. A well presented and formatted archive page is also a page that people are prepared to share on social channels.
Customising your WordPress category and tag pages is one way to take your web site to the next level. I will admit that, personally, I only design up my category pages. This is simply because I don’t have time to customise tag page – though tags which get regular visitors are being noted. This means when i get time tag pages that are regularly visited will be customised and enhanced to improve the user experience.