There may be some confusion about what a category is versus what a tag is. Both are important and so both must be understood. WordPress covers both of these topics in depth in its Codex. However the Codex can be a little hard to comprehend for the non-techie person so this post will break it down in simpler terms.
Categories work as an organizational system. They are like a blog post filing cabinet where you put each individual post under a specific topic. You can also have sub-categories. For instance if you have a post about holidays, the main category would be “Holidays” and the subcategories would be more specific, such as: “Christmas”, “New Years”, etc…
Categories can also be viewed as the table of contents for your website. Just like a book’s table of contents, categories will direct visitors to general topics that you blog about on your website.
- Keep the categories relevant. Think through your categories and the way you title and organize them. Make sure the category is relevant to the post content.
- One category per post. Categories are a way of giving a post a specific chapter title, just like the table of contents in a book. You never find content repeating itself in a book so why do that with your posts by placing them into to0 many categories.
Tags & Keywords – Get to the Point
Tags are another name for “keywords”. These are more specific words and phrases used to zero in on the subject matter of the post that you are publishing. For instance, if you write a post about Gardening, that would be the main category. But tags specify the details such as “fertilizer”, “tomato seeds”, “gardening in the South”, etc… they are a list of keywords that people will use to search for specific terms.
So when you create your tags/keywords, be sure to think about what someone might type into their search bar. You can also find keywords by using the Google Keyword Tool. All you do is type in a keyword or keyword phrase and it will come up with a list of popular keyword ideas – like a keyword Thesaurus. It will also give you the number of times that the specific word has been used in a Google search, indicating its popularity.
- Limit the number of tags. Using a wide range of tags will not help your ranking or SEO purposes at all. The key is the fewer you have to use, the less confusing your posts will be to readers looking for specific content.
- Recycle your tags. Whenever you write another blog post in that same category, use those same tag words.
- How to use tags in a sidebar. There really is no need to add additional tags to your sidebar. WordPress already does a good job of providing the tags after each blog post that you publish. If you decide to use tags in your sidebar, then use the tag cloud (a collection of the most used tags in posts) which is now a part of the WordPress software and can be found in the “widgets” area. The tag cloud is a nice option because it fits a lot of information into a small space and is easy to scan over. People love to scan and move quickly within a website to easily find what they are looking for.
Keywords are critical to help search engines help searchers find you. And that’s what really counts, so be sure to do your duty and define your keywords carefully.
Categories and Keywords – What’s the Diff?
WordPress categories and tags are both navigational and search-driven tools. Besides getting your readers to your site in the first place, they help readers locate what they are seeking on your site. If people can’t find what they need, it’s “hasta la vista” to that potential customer.
Keywords and categories also provide good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – tech talk for getting you to the top of the search engine pecking order – for the site as a whole, but also make it user-friendly when readers come to your site and just want to read posts under a specific category.
There are distinct differences between WordPress categories and tags and they are both essential. You’ll be a much more successful blogger when you understand the differences and know how to use them.
Categories, Tags & Keywords – only you… can prevent web invisibility (Oh My!).