How to use WordPress tags and categories
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Have you ever wondered what is the right way to use WordPress tags? I have, quite a few times. I have to admit that I have been assigning tags to the different posts without thinking about it too much. I know… my blog organisation is probably a real mess now! Time to do a bit of research and learn to use tags properly.
If you feel like your blog content could be better organised, keep reading to learn what is the right way to use WordPress tags.
What is the difference between categories and tags?
Both categories and tags are used to organise data within your blog and help you categorise content, making it easier for users to access. Each blog post should be assigned to one category and as many tags as it’s relevant. For example, if you have a food blog, you could create categories for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and then use specific tags to better define each recipe; for a blog post for pan-fried tuna, you could add “fish” and “tuna” as tags.
Your blog content should be organised into clear categories, following the main topics that you are going to cover in your blog. It is worth thinking about this when you first start your blog and then reviewing those categories from time to time. Categories can help your users find related content and can also help you with your SEO, as categories help search engines understand what type of content you have on your blog.
The number of categories that you need for your blog will depend on your blog’s size. You want to be able to use categories to group blog posts, so if you only have 30 posts, you should try to limit your categories to a smaller number (maybe around 5). Once your blog starts growing and you have more content, you can increase the number or add sub-categories.
Tags are much more specific than categories and should be used to define the specific content of a blog post; some articles compare tags to a book’s index.
Tags are optional, so you don’t need to use them if you are not going to use them within your blog’s navigation. The locations where you can add tags for navigation may depend on the WordPress theme that you are using. You can add tags to different areas on the blog using widgets. For example, my blog displays the tags associated with each post after the post itself. Following the above example about pan-fried tuna; if a user after wanted to read that post wanted to see other posts about fish, the user could do that clicking on the “fish” tag.
You can have as many tags as you like per post but it is worth reviewing the list of tags from time to time and trying to be consistent when we assign tags. For example, when I last reviewed my list of tags I had one “opt-in form” tag and one “optin form” tag as well as one “Yoast” and one “Yoast SEO” tags. When you add a new tag, WordPress suggests existing tags to use, so keep an eye for tags that you have previously created to avoid duplicating tags. Tags that are used several times across your blog will help users find related content and improve the usability of your site.
How to use tags?
1 – Think about where you are going to include navigation using tags. If you are not going to use this type of navigation on your blog then you don’t need to use tags. However, if you decide to use it later, adding tags to all your old blog posts is likely to be hard work, so consider it carefully before deciding not to use tags.
2 – Think about what categories and tags to assign to each post before publishing it. Assign one category and as many tags as you want. Keep the list of tags used so far in mind to try to:
– Avoid “duplicating” similar tags like “opt-in form” and “optin form” in the example above.
– Try to assign similar tags to related content to make sure that navigation using tags is useful for your visitors.
3 – Review your tags (and categories) regularly.
Where to assign and edit tags in WordPress
When you create a blog post, you can add tags through the navigation bar on the right-hand side:
You can review the tags that you’ve assigned so far going to WP Dashboard > Posts > Tags.
This page shows the list of tags with a description (if assigned), the slug for each tag and the number of posts where each tag has been included.
You can edit the tag clicking on it. You can then change the tag name, description and slug.
If you hover on the tag name, you can edit, delete or view the tag.
How to use categories?
1- Think about the type of content that you are going to write for your blog and create a list of categories to organise the blog posts. Limit the number of categories depending on the number of posts that you have, in a way that there are several blog posts per category.
2 – Define your list of categories going to WP Dashboard > Posts > Categories. Review the slugs and assign descriptions to improve your SEO.
3 – Assign each post to a single category before publishing it.
4 – Review your categories regularly.
Where to assign and edit categories in WordPress
When you create a blog post, you can assign a category through the navigation bar on the right-hand side:
You can review your categories going to the WP Dashboard > Posts > Categories.
This will take you to a page that will show all the categories currently defined, their slug and the number of posts assigned to each category. As with tags, you can edit, create and delete categories through this page and clicking on each category you can also change the slug and add a description for each category.
Remember, categories are broader and are used as “buckets” to categorise your blog posts while tags are more detailed and can be compared to the “Index” used in books. Assign one category per blog post and as many tags as you want.