In a previous post, we talked about content and keywords. Now that you know what content and keywords are and how to easily find new content ideas for your site, we will talk about tags and categories. Do you understand what tags and categories are and do you know how to use them correctly on your blog and site?
Basically tags are like keywords that help show what your post is about to both readers and search engines. Categories show your reader and search engines how your post relates overall to your blog. In this post, you will learn more specifically about the differences between tags and categories and how to use each correctly within your posts and on your site to help you rank higher in search.
What are Tags?
Tags are basically a lot like keywords, really. They are smaller scoped and basically are used to show the focus of specific topics in your post. Tags are like the site index to your site.
A tag’s main purpose is to describe a specific detail within the post you have written.
In a post about planting a vegetable garden, “vegetable garden” may be the keywords, but the post may be tagged with “gardening”, “vegetables”, or “homestead projects”. On a food blog, for example, the main category may be desserts, but the tags may be pies, cookies, and cakes.
When to Use Tags
Tags are not required or mandatory when writing a post. Therefore, some posts will not have tags associated with them. This is one main difference between tags and categories. This is because sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to have to use a tag, because having a category is enough explanation.
Tags were added to WordPress to improve the usability of your site. So many people wanted to have their posts labeled more specifically, that bloggers were making entirely too many categories on their sites, so tags were added as a feature to basically cut down on having too many categories and therefore, causing confusion to readers.
What are Categories?
By having categories within your blog content, it makes it easier for the reader to find what they are searching for. It also tells search engines what your post is about.
Categories are more of a broader scope of grouping your posts on your site.
Categories are required when writing a post. In WordPress, you can use your own categories or an “Uncategorized” category which many bloggers change to something like “Other” or “Misc”.
One of the other differences between tags and categories is that categories are hierarchical, whereas tags are not. You can have categories and subcategories within your site. A site may have a category called gardening” and subcategories of “vegetable”. “herb”, and “flower” as subcategories. You will see these as “drop-down” boxes in the menu bar.
When to Use Categories
Categories should be used in every post as a broad guide to what your topic is about. You can use the subcategories as described above to be a bit more specific and then tags to show even more focus. Using tags and categories together will give your reader a better user experience when searching through your content and when trying to understand what a specific piece of content is about.
Structuring Your Blog With Tags And Categories
There is no specific number of tags and categories you should have on your site. It actually depends on the number of posts you have and how broad your topics on your site are. Let me explain with an example.
Many homesteading bloggers write about gardening. If those bloggers also write about preservation, preparing, livestock, and skills, they may want gardening as a unique category along with the others I just mentioned. However, if the blogger only writes about gardening, they may have categories such as “Vegetable Gardening”, “Herb Gardening”, “Flowers”, and “Citrus Plants”. Then, under each category would be subcategories, “onions” for example, under vegetable gardening.
The first blogger with a category of “Gardening” may use more tags then the blogger that has specific categories related to gardening and then uses subcategories to separate the different types of gardening. This is because the blogger that uses a category and then a subcategory may not need to use as many tags because her categories are more focused.
Tags And Categories For SEO
When it comes to SEO, your tags and categories are used to help search engines distinguish what your content is about. It tells these search engines how your content relates overall to your blog.
There is no penalty if you use more than one category for a post, and more than one tag.
If your post falls under 2 different categories, it is okay to use 2 categories. Keep in mind, however, that one of the categories must be chosen as the primary category. Some people used to think that if you used 2 categories, Google would see it as duplicate content, but this is simply not true at all. See what Google Search Console says about duplicate content.
Conclusion and Summary On Tags And Categories
Think about tags and categories like a book. The categories are your chapter headings and the subcategories are your subheadings. Tags are used as your chapter parts or smaller headings. Following this as a guide will help you use tags and categories correctly on your site.
For more information on writing posts and other blogging topics please check out the following posts related to blogging:
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