The difference between categories and tags on your WordPress site

Overview

So what exactly is the difference between categories and tags on your WordPress blog? Both of these are used to organise your blog posts and make it simpler for readers to find and navigate your content.

In a nutshell, if categories are the table of contents of your blog, tags represent the index. They also offer an opportunity to increase traffic to your site via search engines.

A simple way to think about this is that all categories and tags should represent a keyword that your reader might search for. For example, if I was searching for a handbag, the category might be fashion and the tag could be handbag.

Categories

Categories are the main way of organising your blog posts within WordPress. They are similar to folders on your computer that you use to organise your files. If you are familiar with the term metadata (data about data) these categories are the metadata of your site.

When mapping out how you want your users to navigate your site, you need to come up with some high-level categories. For example, if your blog is about fashion, your main categories might be work wear, casual, travel and street style.

You can then link these categories to your main menu as a drop down link so your users can navigate to each of the categories.

Tags

Tags are also used to categorise your posts, however, are more detailed. For example, a post might be categorised as work wear but you might add tags such as spring, shoes or even a brand name. Anything that will give a good overview of what the post is about should be included. Also with tags, if there is no obvious way to tag a post, don’t tag it. Not every post needs tagging.

Tips

  1. Before starting a blog write down the main categories you plan to use. For ideas, you can look at other blogs in your genre to see how they categorise their posts.
  2. Make sure when you add tags that you use the same version for the word. E.g. use bag, rather than bags or handbag. Be consistent.
  3. Invest in a plugin to bulk edit categories. This will save you time if you need to rearrange them in the future.
  4. Use Quick Edit to change categories. This is a quicker way to edit your post. To do so, just hover over a post and select Quick Edit.
  5. Undertake an audit of your tags every so often to ensure they still reflect the structure of your blog posts. This will ensure you are able to make the most of the ability to link related posts.
  6. Don’t go overboard when categorising your content. A post should typically be in no more than one or two categories and you should limit your tagging to only relevant content.

Have any other tips about categories and tags? Please comment below as I’d love to hear about them.

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