How to use WordPress categories and tags

An unmodified version of WordPress (the one that you get after a fresh installation) comes with just two basic taxonomies. In order to organize and group your posts, you can use categories and tags.

Even to a more experienced blogger, categories and tags might sound very similar. The truth is that categories and tags share a lot of common ground, but there are also a few important differences. Before you mix them and give yourself a hard time reorganizing hundreds of posts in the future, take a few minutes to learn the differences.

Categories

WordPress video games categories example

Consider categories as the main way of organizing the content on your WordPress site. When starting a blog, you should be able to segregate content into a few groups. When you get to the part of writing new articles, each new post that you create should fit into just one category.

Categories are used for broad grouping of content. They represent the general topics that you’re dealing with on the blog.

Don’t get us wrong; technically, you can assign numerous categories to each post. But if you get to the point where most of your new posts need two or more categories, consider that as a warning – you haven’t structured your blog well.

Categories are hierarchical. When creating or editing one, you can make it a subcategory by selecting its parent. By creating subcategories where needed, you’re making your blog more attractive both to users and search engines.

Example:

Let’s say that you have decided to write about video games. If you want to cover all platforms, you should consider them as your categories. In this example, one category would be “PC”, other ones “PlayStation”, “Xbox”, “Wii” and so on. These would be the main topics of your site.

By using those same groups, you could create child categories and create “News”, “Reviews”, “Videos” and related subcategories and assign them to their respective parent groups. So, if a visitor decided to read PC news, your WordPress blog would take him to www.yoursite.com/pc/news. If the same visitor decided to switch to PlayStation news, categories wouldn’t mix, and that visitor would navigate to www.yoursite.com/playstation/news and so on.

Some common video games categories:

  • PC
  • PlayStation
  • Xbox
  • Wii
  • Smartphone games

How to create WordPress categories

Since we already covered WordPress categories in more detail, please see how to choose and use categories in WordPress.

Tags

WordPress video games tags example

Unlike categories, tags should describe your posts in more details. Tags are usually terms consisted of one or two words that are closely related to the topic you’re writing about. It is entirely ok to use multiple tags for one post, as long as it is relevant to your article, of course.

Use tags to define and emphasize particular details about your article.

Tags are not hierarchical, so there are no such things as child and parent tags. Each term stands on its own. And similarly to categories, each phrase gets its own unique archive page that groups all the posts tagged with the same term.

Example:

In the same video games example, tags should describe your posts more closely. Let’s say that you wrote a review of the game Battlefield. Even to non-gamers, the title of the game signifies it is about some “warfare”. So, you could simply tag it with “War”. If you took a closer look at the game, you would notice it is a First Person Shooter so you could tag it with “FPS” as well and so on. With this approach, you could connect all video games about the war in one group, and all First Person Shooter games into another one without having to use categories for the job. If a user who likes video games about war comes to your site, he could open the archive page dedicated to war (www.yoursite.com/tags/war) and find all related articles. That’s a nice feature to have, right?

Some common video game tags:

  • fps
  • adventure
  • strategy
  • swords
  • war

How to add tags to a WordPress post

Add new tag in WordPress

Similarly to creating categories, navigate to Posts -> Tags where you will be able to add new tags. You can edit tag’s name, slug, and description. When editing a tag, just like with categories, you can edit, quick edit, delete or view tag’s archive page where you will find all posts tagged with it.

Convert tags to categories and vice versa

If you already have a list of categories and tags on your site that you want to change, you don’t have to delete them and start over. WordPress allows you to convert tags to categories, and vice versa just by clicking a button.

Since we have already talked about this, please see how to convert categories to tags.

Categories & tags – basic tools in any webmaster’s toolbox

Although WordPress categories and tags are quite similar, there are important differences between these two default taxonomies. Before you start grouping content into tags and categories, make sure that you understand which one to use. We hope that our simple examples helped you with that. Even if you make a mistake, don’t worry WordPress gives you a chance to convert tags to categories and vice-versa.

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