WordPress is preferred by a large majority of bloggers and site owners because it comes with awesome features that boost SEO. Take WordPress categories and tags, for instance. These primary features for grouping/labelling content not just improve the site’s performance and accessibility but are also easy to use (even for beginners!).
Businesses need to stick with the website design trends that appeal to their audience and search engines. Tags and categories do precisely that! They improve UX by organising website content and classifying posts, making it easy for Google bots and users to find what they are looking for. This significantly improves user experience and SEO.
By the end of this post, you will appreciate the difference between WordPress tags and categories and their application in WordPress website development. Let’s dig into each one for a better understanding!
What Are Tags and Categories?
WordPress tags and categories are default tools seen on the sidebar. They allow website developers to categorise posts.
Categories symbolise a broad topic or a group of topics connected to a common theme. So, if your firm offers WordPress website development services, you may have several categories like frontend, backend, and full-stack web development. You may also consider having categories like Security and News.
In this case, if there’s a post on how to keep your WordPress site secure, you’ll add it in the category, ‘Security.’
A post can belong to multiple categories. However, it’s wise to restrict the number of categories to 2 or 3 per post to avoid confusion and allow easy site navigation.
Tags are great if you want to differentiate your piece of content by some specific keywords. Each post may contain multiple tags. When a visitor clicks on one, they come across multiples posts carrying the same tag.
Difference between Tags and Categories
Though both tags and categories are ways to group content and improve its searchability, they differ in several ways. In a way, categories provide a genre to a post while tags go deeper into the content and indicate specific points it talks about.
Let’s look at the basic differences between these two.
- Broad versus Specific
As pointed out earlier, categories group broad topics while tags offer in-depth labelling to your posts.
Let’s take another example for better understanding. If you own a fitness blog, the categories may include HIIT, Cardio, Yoga, Zumba, Healthy Recipes, News, and others.
Further, if you share a post on ‘X Awesome HIIT Workouts for Women,’ it will fall under the HIIT category. You can add tags like Workouts, Tabata, Training, or Fat Loss.
- Necessary versus Optional
If you fail to assign a category to your posts, WordPress will assign a default category to it. You surely do not want your posts to be classified as ‘Uncategorised.’ This will make it tough for search engine bots and your site visitors to find content.
On the other hand, tags are unique to the content of the post; hence, you can choose whether or not you want to add them.
- Hierarchical versus Non-Hierarchical
Categories are hierarchical while tags are standalone with no levels. Simply put, categories may have a parent category with child subcategories. However, tags do not have a parent-child relationship.
Going by the same ‘fitness blog’ example we discussed earlier, the Healthy Recipes category can have subcategories like Smoothies, Salads, and Diet Plan.
The Diet Plan subcategory may include more subcategories like a low-carb diet, keto diet, or low-sugar diet.
Tags, on the other hand, are standalone as they are unique to the content of a post.
Besides the above-mentioned differences, tags and categories produce unique permalinks.
For instance, www.examplefitnessblog.com/category/healthyrecipes/ OR
How to Add New WordPress Tags?
To add tags to a new blog post, follow these steps.
- From the admin dashboard, go to Posts – Add New
- Type in the tags you want to add, separated by a comma.
How to Add New WordPress Categories?
Adding new categories from the sidebar of the WordPress editor is pretty easy. For more control, navigate from the WordPress dashboard to Posts > Categories (Refer to the image shared above).
Add more categories and edit them. Alternatively, you may add a custom slug (that incorporates the keywords you discovered during keyword research).
If you need more information on how to add tags and categories to your website, here’s a guide by WordPress.
How to Optimise WordPress Categories and Tags?
- Sketch Out Your Site Structure
Creating a good site structure is one of the best things you can do to boost your website ranking. Internal linking and clearly defined tags and categories help search bots crawl your website seamlessly. Moreover, it allows users to easily and quickly find what they are looking for, thereby improving your site’s UX.
- Sketch a clear structure defining the categories critical to your site.
- Go for simple navigation. Add a sub-category only if you must. However, a sub-subcategory may make things messy.
- Keep evaluating your site’s structure and add/delete categories depending on the type of content you share.
- Add Tags and Categories Relevant to Your Niche
Make sure the tag or category you add covers your site or business niche.
The category should be wide enough to cover multiple areas. Create short, unique, and self-explanatory categories. Also, no website navigation needs more than 10 categories.
Similarly, the tag you use should explain itself. No one wants to read a tag like ‘adlib.’
One of the best ways of coming up with relevant and high-performing tags and categories is to do an in-depth keyword analysis for search engines. Keyword-rich tags and categories will help your content to rank higher and attract more traffic.
Do a thorough competitor analysis and pick the relevant and trending phrases for your website. This will help search engines and your target audience find you quickly.
- Know When to Add a Subcategory
Creating subcategories isn’t a ground-rule. Use them only when required.
For instance, if recently published content involving tips from an influential fitness expert. You are planning to share more such content in the future. In such a case, you can easily add a sub-category under Case Study or Expert Advice.
Remember, the sole objective of adding categories and subcategories is to make it easy for your readers to find relevant content.
- Be Aware of the Mistakes to Avoid
WordPress tags and categories are good for SEO. However, if not used properly, they can prove to be harmful to your site’s online ranking. Hence, it’s critical to be aware of the common mistakes that could prove harmful to your SEO.
- Avoid using the same name for tags and categories. Doing so will create two identical category and tag pages, thus confusing the search bots.
- Using a singular and plural form tag accounts for duplication issues, again negatively affecting your site’s crawlability and ranking. Make sure you consistently use the same tag throughout.
- Avoid depending on the default way in which WordPress handles categories and tags. By default, each tag used creates a separate archive page, listing all the posts using that tag. This may be great for humans but disastrous for SEO.
Remember: Tag pages do not hold unique content like that in individual pages. They only exist to help readers find their preferred topics in a fuss-free manner. That’s why search bots prefer crawling post pages over tag pages.
A great way to stop wasting Google’s time crawling low-quality duplicate content pages is noindex WordPress tag archive pages. By doing this, you are asking search bots to ignore the tag pages when crawling content. This task can be easily achieved using a plugin like Yoast SEO.
- If you run a multi-author website on WordPress, avoid making separate categories. WP already has an author categorization system; so, do not make separate categories for authors on your website.
Ultimately, webmasters should create a website with the user in mind. Both tags and categories help readers navigate through a website to get what they are looking for. Using them appropriately can organise your site’s content, improve usability, and fetch you better results in the SERPs.
Use the information shared in this post to leverage the power of WordPress tags and categories for your website.