Tags vs Categories in WordPress

 In Web Stuff

When dealing with blog posts (or any other types of posts) in WordPress, tags vs categories can be confusing. What is the difference between the two?

The Short Answer

Each  blog post that gets published should have one category and at least one–more specific–tag (different from the category). WordPress categories should be used to create groups of content that support the overall topics of a website. Tags on the other hand, should be used to create groups of content across multiple categories.

Why use Tags and Categories?

In WordPress (or any blog publishing platform), tags and categories are used to organize blog content into logical groups. Doing this well can achieve many things:

  • Greatly improve SEO (search engine optimization) as Google can see (and likes) when content is organized and categorized. Google also knows tags vs categories. This can be an advantage when applying keywords and keyword phrases.
  • Make it easy for users to find related content. Not everyone will want to use the search functionality of a blog. Having tags and categories allows users to simply click the link and be taken to all content related to the selected tag or category.
  • Separating content into groups improves readability. Readers have come to expect multiple levels of content organization. Using tags and categories will help guide readers through content with ease reducing boredom.

How to use Categories

It’s often a good idea to come up with a few ‘starter categories’ for a blog before attaching them to posts.

Some example categories for a food recipe blog could be: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snack.
For a movie review blog, perhaps: drama, action, comedydocumentary, sci-fiforeign and children.

It’s important to remember that blog posts should only have one category. More importantly, blog posts should be able to fit into only one category. If a post’s topic can fit into two categories, consider splitting it into two separate posts.

How to use Tags

Tags allow for organizing content that span multiple categories. Posts can (and should) have multiple tags. It shouldn’t be like hashtagging in Instagram. It should be methodical use of words or short phrases that can be used over again on multiple posts.

Some example tags for a food recipe blog could be: bacon, carrots, eggs and flour.
For a movie review blog, perhaps: George Clooney, western, airplane and period piece.

Notice that tags are more specific than categories. More importantly, the tags could span multiple categories. This enables readers an extra–and useful–level of organization to access other related posts.

Conclusion

To sum up, tags vs categories in WordPress blog posts shouldn’t be a mystery. The key thing to remember is to only have one category and multiple–more specific–tags per blog post. This will help engage readers and allow them to quickly click through to relatable content.

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