Categories and Tags in WordPress: How to Use Them?

Categories and tags might not seem like such a big deal. After all, do they really have any importance for SEO and, more importantly, do your readers really pay attention to it? As it turns out, every feature in WordPress is there for a reason – including categories and tags. And even though they have become an integral part of every worthy article and/or blog post, people still make the mistake of choosing them randomly. That’s why today, we will work on solving this issue by explaining both categories and tags in WordPress and stating their function.

Everything you need to know about categories in WordPress

The easiest way to explain the notion of categories is by saying that they are a method of grouping content on a WordPress site. That means that a category symbolizes a group of topics that are connected to each other, and one post can belong to many different categories. If you are just learning how to create content in WordPress, it’s quite reasonable that you will struggle with distinguishing which post should belong to which category. But you shouldn’t be worried about it too much – you will quickly get the hang of it.

A man writing a post and using categories and tags in WordPress.
Categories are there to help you group your content into meaningful parts.

You can assign as many different categories as you see fit. Within a reasonable range, of course. For example, if you are an owner of an online magazine, you can create a category for the general topics that you usually cover. So your categories would look something like: 

  • Sports
  • Music
  • Health & Fitness
  • Fashion
  • News

And so on and so forth. If a post you have created is the latest news in the fashion world, then you can feel free to assign both the News and the Fashion category. Trust us – creating a blog website will be much easier once you have a feature that ties all of your content together, and that’s precisely the function of categories and tags in WordPress.

Everything you need to know about tags in WordPress

Tags are an amazing way to identify a post based on specific keywords. All you have to do is pick a couple of words or phrases that best describe what you talked about. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should feel free to go overboard. There is no need to use a dozen tags when five would be more than enough to explain what the text is all about. Once again, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use more than five tags per post. It just means that you shouldn’t use a tag that isn’t in close relation to a point in your text.

A glowing WordPress logo.
Be creative – use as many tags as needed to describe the keywords of your post.

Let’s imagine you wrote about the latest Paris fashion week. You can use tags such as couture, fashion, fashion designer, runway, etc. They sum up the idea of the post which is why we here at WP Full Care don’t shy away from using them. Remember that everyone who knows anything about WordPress will doubtlessly advise you to use more than one tag per post. Now that we got that covered, it’s time to deal with perhaps the most important thing – the things that make these two features different.

Optimizing categories and tags in WordPress

So far, we have covered the purpose behind categories and tags and we have revealed why they are so great. But they are far from perfect and, if not used correctly, can have a negative impact on SEO. And we all know how important SEO is for your entire website so we won’t even go there. What you want to do is change the default way in which WordPress handles categories and tags. And the best way to do that is by installing the Yoast SEO plugin.

After installing the plugin, go to the dashboard and find the section named “SEO”. Locate the Search Appearance option and switch to the Taxonomies tab. After that, it’s advisable to set the “Show in search results” parameter to No, as that will prevent Google from indexing categories and tags by itself. That will effectively help you avoid duplicate content issues in WordPress which can have a very negative effect on SEO.

The differences between categories and tags in WordPress

Bear in mind that there are a lot of people who understand both the notion of tags and the notion of categories. Yet, they have a problem differentiating between these two things. And the biggest difference between these two is obviously the way you use them. Think of categories as the genre of the post while tags are there to explain certain parts of the text. In a lot of cases, people only use one category for their posts. On the other hand, they are encouraged to use multiple tags with every post.

Cubes spelling blog.
Every blog can benefit from categories and tags in WordPress.

The one thing they have in common, however, is the fact that neither of them is needed for pages. And, of course, the fact that they are both there to serve the purpose of improving your website, ranking, and content in general. As far as benefits go, we’d say that’s a pretty big one.

Categories and tags are a very useful thing

If you know how to use them to your advantage, of course. Some of the most successful companies that use WordPress never skip adding categories and tags in WordPress. That’s because when combined they truly are a great thing for your website and SEO. But if you stuck with us till the very end, you probably learned everything you needed to know about the benefits and pitfalls of categories and tags, as well as their purpose. That means you probably learned how to use them – if you were attentive, of course, Now all you have to do is put theory to practice and wait for the long-term results. Good luck!