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A customer asked, “Shouldn’t I put my blog posts in multiple categories for better search engine optimization?”

Our answer: No.

The search engines won’t rank your content higher because you’ve placed it in multiple categories. In fact, they might gig you for duplicate content if you allow them to crawl your categories at all. And that’s why many SEOs put a nofollow, deindex command in their robots.txt files for the category and tag pages of their blogs.

Your categories and tags are for reader benefit. Fewer categories on a blog make for a cleaner, easier-to-follow blog. Limit your reader’s choices in categories and you’ll encourage more reading. Therefore, your categories should be broad catch-all organizational tools like the chapters in a book.

Tags, on the other hand, are narrower in scope and therefore it’s OK to have more of them. It’s also OK to give individual blog posts with multiple tags.

Tags are more like the index at the back of your book. You might have only 10 chapters (blog categories) in a book, but you’ll have hundreds of tags. And specific words or phrases may appear in several chapters of your book. Those words or phrases (tags) in your index will show which specific pages of your book those words or phrases appear in even if they are in different chapters.

The reason this happens is because you’ll give a full treatment of a topic in a book chapter, or a blog category, but you and your reader both recognize that all of your concepts are interrelated. Sometimes, due to that interrelatedness, you’ll mention a topic in a chapter that covers another topic with a fuller treatment. It’s only mentioned as it relates to the other topic. That’s where your tags come in.

Keep in mind that tags and categories are organization tools, not necessarily SEO tools.

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