If you’re running a WordPress blog you’ve had this question at one point or another: what is the difference between the tags and categories – and how to tag blog posts?
Let’s get this sorted in 370 words.
Both categories and tags are taxonomies – that is, classifications that help group your posts.
In essence, categories and tags are the same, – they mark certain content and you can view all the marked content, display it in a menu, or sort through it.
The way categories and tags are used though is often different.
Categories define larger groups of content, while tags split content into smaller topics.
Say, if your blog is about bicycles, you’d put track, mountain, road, kids, extreme as categories, to generally split blog posts into larger groups by bicycle types.
Then as you blog you will add tangential topics like seats, tyres, and brakes, and use those as tags.
The most confusing part is that if your blog is focused on actual bike parts – you’d probably flip the script and use tyres, brakes, and seats as categories, while using brand names as tags.
What matters most is that tags and categories don’t overlap.
If you have a single-speed bicycles category then adding a tag single-speed will be bad for SEO.
Duplicate tags breed duplicate content (archive pages) and Google hates duplicate content.
So how do you tag your posts for SEO and usability? The only true answer is it’s all about your taste.
Here’s a checklist of practice-based rules for post tags:
1. Tags should not repeat categories.
2. Tags should not expand categories.
If your categories are red, green, blue, then brown and yellow should also be categories, not tags. Square, triangular, and round – those should be your tags.
3. Tags should not repeat other tags.
Each tag must be unique enough and having plane, airplane, airliner as tags is redundant and pointless.
4. Use navigational benefits of tags.
Categories and tags can usually be displayed as separate menus and widgets – keep that in mind for future growth and scalability of your site.
5. Only add tags if you will use them more than once.
Avoid ultra-specific tags that won’t ever label more than 1 post.
Still have questions? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss tagging your blog posts for SEO and readers!