While writing a new WordPress post, you will find some areas on the right sidebar that may have you scratching your head: Categories and Tags.
I get many questions about these two areas from both beginner bloggers and those that have been blogging for years.
For example, you may have asked…
- What are these features?
- When should I use these features?
- Why should I use these features?
- How should I use these features?
These are questions I hope to answer for you in this post. But first, here is a screen shot of these two features within the WordPress platform.
Each post in WordPress is filed under a category. Thoughtful categorization allows posts to be grouped with others of similar content and aids in the navigation of a site. Please note, the post category should not be confused with the Link Categories used to classify and manage Links. Think of categories as if they were different sections of a newspaper.
The categories of an average newspaper consists of:
Since categories appear in your sidebar, you want to keep these to a minimum so that the visitor has an easy time finding the information they are looking for on the site. Imagine if a newspaper consisted of 20+ sections. It would be difficult for one to navigate their way through the paper. Plus, who would even check that many sections!
Keep categories to a minimum; 10 or less categories is the perfect amount to ensure you are not spreading your information too thin across the site while keeping it easy to navigate.
It will be much easier for your visitors to navigate through the below options than navigate through a 100 different options:
- Buyer Info
- Seller Info
- Market Trends
- Community Info
No one wants to read through a long list of items. Keep your categories simple, easy to navigate, broad and focused.
First off, tags are not necessary. For simplicity reasons, I personally recommend not using tags unless you know what you’re are doing. Search engines do not care!
A tag is a keyword which describes all or part of a post. Think of it like a category, but smaller in scope. A post may have several tags, many of which relate to it only peripherally. Like categories, tags are usually linked to a page which shows all posts having the same tag. Unlike categories, tags can be created on-the-fly, by simply typing them into the tag field.
Tags can also be displayed in “clouds” which show large numbers of tags in various sizes, colors, etc. This allows for a sort of total perspective on the blog, allowing people to see the sort of things your blog is about most.
Many people confuse tags and categories, but the difference is easy: Categories generally don’t change often, while your Tags usually change with every Post.
If you want to get more specific, do so using ‘Tags’. Tag you articles with 1 to 3 words that describe the post.
For example, lets say you write a post for the ‘Buyer Info’ category on how to purchase a foreclosed listing in Arlington, VA. Tag that article with ‘foreclosures, arlington va’.
You can have as many ‘tags’ in the system as you would like, but try to use tags over and over again.
For example, if you tag the above article with ‘foreclosures’, use that same word the next time you write about a foreclosure. Do not use ‘foreclosure’ (singular) as that creates a second, redundant tag.
Search engines will read categories and tags the same way. Both use pretty permalinks.
- Category Permalink: http://hibanism.com/category/buyer-info
- Tag Permalink: http://hibanism.com/tag/foreclosures
Just the way the blog is organized for the user, keep categories to a minimum for easy navigation. Tag as you choose.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Tag the same as tag ?
Yes. Capitals letters do not change a tag. Blogging is the same as blogging.
Is there a limit to the number of tags I can have?
Yes, the sky. In other words, no.
Is there any advantage to using tags or categories, or both?
No. There is no advantage within WordPress.com and external search engines using one or the other.
Do I have to use tags?
The use of tags is entirely optional (although each post must be attached to at least one category).
Are categories and tags hierarchical?
Categories can be arranged in a hierarchy (see the categories widget settings). Tags, however, exist in their own right and have no set relationship to anything else.