Categories and tags may sound like they’re the same, but they’re two separate entities on WordPress. Categories are broad groupings of the content on your website.
For example, if you have a blog on dogs, then you may use the dog breed – Cocker Spaniels – as a category on your blog.
For tags, you can use that to describe what a particular post is about. So, if you have a blog post about raising Cocker Spaniels, then your category would probably be Cocker Spaniels, and your tags would be cocker spaniel, walking a cocker spaniel, feeding a cocker spaniel, etc.
Using keywords in your content isn’t quite enough. You have to use them as tags for the post also.
To add a new category, you can do it from the actual blog post, by clicking Add Category, or you can click on your dashboard by navigating to Posts and then Categories, which takes you to the entire categories page so you can edit and manage all of your categories at once.
Here, you can create a new category and give it a parent category if you want this to work in a hierarchy system, with sub-categories. You’ll create the slug (which is the URL version of the category). Depending on the theme you’re using, you may want to add a description because some themes show the description while others don’t.
You can delete categories here too. If you delete a category, it doesn’t do away with your blog post. Instead, it just causes that blog post to return to the default category of “Uncategorized.”
Categories help your visitors navigate your website better. Some people truly depend on them to find what they need. Tags help too, but they’re a bit different. For instance, let’s say you have a vegetarian blog and one category is vegetarian foods.
You can post a blog post about a certain brand of food and place it in the vegetarian foods category. But the tags you use might be the brand name and type of food that it is, such as “Yvess, vegetarian corn dogs.”
The only bad thing about WordPress categories is if you over do it. If you have a long scrolling list of categories on your site, it can get confusing for your visitors. So it’s better to keep them trimmed back, and possibly create sub-categories instead.
WordPress tags are very important and are similar to your categories, only they’re not necessarily there for navigation purposes. They’re more for sorting posts according to topics and identifying your content for search engines and visitors with keywords and phrases.
Tags are more specific than their category counterparts. Categories are broader, but tags dig down deeper to tell you specifically what’s inside a particular blog post. Whenever you add a new post, on the right side, you’ll see a section that says Post Tags.
You can type in keywords and phrases and separate them with commas. Or, if you’ve had the blog for awhile, just click “Choose from the most used tags” and pick from among your common tag choices.
If you change your mind and want to delete a tag, just click the gray X beside the tag. WordPress recommends an average of 5 to 10 tags be added to each blog post. Not having any isn’t good for your search engine optimization. Having too many only confuses the reader.
You can manage your tags from the main dashboard, too. Click on Posts and then Post Tags. You can add tags from there, delete or edit them. On this page you’ll see a massive tag cloud, too.
A tag cloud shows you which tags you use most on your site. If you see a tag you want to edit in the tag cloud, click on it and it will let you edit the words and the URL for that tag, too.
Tags and categories are both important to your site’s findability and navigation. Don’t exclude one for the other – use them in conjunction to give your blog the best SEO boost possible.
Categorizing and tagging your posts (on the right hand side of your post page) add further indicators to the search engines as to what your content is about.