In Internet Marketing the question how to define and distinguish between categories and tags in WordPress is asked by a lot of marketers.
But beside the question of distinguishing between categories and keywords, there are some other questions:
- Is there an optimal number of categories?
- Is it okay to allocate a post to several categories?
- Is there a limit of tags per post?
- Are tags like Meta keywords?
- Are there any advantages in SEO in the use of categories or tags?
In this post I give some answers to this questions.
What is the difference?
Basically categories and tags serves only one purpose, to improve the usability of your website. A section for the latest news or blog becomes with an increasing number of posts quickly confusing but should be made easily accessible, for your visitors. Compare the categories and tags with the contents and index of a book.
To find out how to use categories and tags and what benefits it has from search engine and user point of view, it is helpful to first understand what the two terms differ.
In using categories you give the reader information what about you are talking in a post.
Categories in WordPress are a sort of table of contents of your posts. Categories are rough, cross- terms, the quasi chapter headings of your website. Categories are hierarchical, so you can also make sub-categories.
Staying with the analogy of “categories are the contents of the blog “, then the entirety of tags is the index. Tags can help a finer mapping of the content of the blog post – in addition to the category. Almost as a ‘ micro – categorization ‘. Unlike categories tags are not hierarchical, so there is no over-or under tags.
An example of the distinction
In a home cooking blog, the categories could be ‘ starters ‘, ‘ soups ‘, ‘ main dishes ‘ or ‘ desserts ‘ . Possible tags would then for example be the ingredients as ‘ nuts ‘, ‘ Zucchini ‘, ‘ pasta ‘ or ‘ pesto ‘, or the names of the dishes like “Clams Chowder” or “Ceasars Salad”.
Categories must , Tags can
Blog posts must be assigned to a category . If you do not choose a category for a post, the ” Uncategorized” category is automatically assigned by WordPress (You can rename of course this category) . The use of tags, however, is voluntary and is only used to better usability and friendliness of your WordPress site .
How many categories are useful?
In older WordPress versions, it was not possible to use tags. This often led to an over- categorization of blogs. With the introduction of tags blog posts can be categorized very user-friendly nowadays.
In general 5-7 Categories are enough
Remember that new visitors to your website are overwhelmed with too many content and could avoid in the future your website due to poor user experience, if they do not find their way . If you have narrowed your niche, I recommend creating no more than 5-7 categories ( For larger niches or the number can be higher ) . Under these categories all of your blog posts should be to sort .
First categories, then Article
Ideally, you make at the start of your Blogger or Marketer career detailed thoughts about your categories. Start small. In the beginning two or three categories are sufficient, to avoid categories with little or no contributions. You will see that by the time one or another category will crystallize itself .
To change a category later on (and to be not penalized by Google) is a lot of effort, since so-called ‘ redirects ‘ must be created so that there are no ‘ dead links ‘ on your website. These dead links arise from the fact that the name of the category (slug ) is used as part of the URL :
Since categories are arranged, you can also create subcategories . An example would be an automobile blog with the category ‘ car brand’ and the sub-categories ‘ Model -1 ‘,’ Model 2 ‘, etc . . That only makes sense if you have extremely many blog posts to the corresponding models, so a categorization ‘ worth ‘ . Otherwise, you should use tags.
Assign an article to several categories
There is a lot of discussions in WordPress circles , whether it is harmful from the perspective of SEO , that blog post or article should be assigned to more than one category or not.
In general you should try to create so that a blog post can be only assigned to one category. In a book , an article is only found in one chapter. This however, is to be understood as a of which there are known exceptions: An assignment to multiple categories is quite okay if it serves the user experience.
Restrictions on the use of tags
On the question of whether you are limited in the use of tags in WordPress, the answer is: no. You can create as many tags and assign to your blog posts as you want. But you should not overuse tags! The ‘ usability ‘ – i.e. the user experience – your Internet presence should be your guide.
Your visitors should find their way better using categories and tags and not get confused. There are good experiences with 25-30 tags in average sites. Per blog post, it is recommend 3-5 tags to be able to avoid any confusion from the perspective of the reader .
Can tags be regarded as Meta keywords?
Earlier Meta keywords were necessary and popular, to help the search engines to find a website.
Therefore, the appropriate Meta tags are still frequently in use . Many WordPress users believe that tags with Meta keywords are equated and therefore try to assign as many tags as possible to their blog post. This is unnecessary for two reasons , or it may even be harmful:
- Tags are no Meta keywords ( Unless you use a special SEO plugin )
- Google takes no more Meta keywords into account.
So use them from the perspective of your readers as many tags as necessary and as little tags as possible!
SEO – What is better? Categories versus Tags
It is important and useful to use categories and tags but don’t use neither the one nor the other too inflationary. Categories and tags should go hand in hand and so represent an ideal user experience for your visitors . The answer to the question what is more important from SEO point of view is: ‘ Both ‘ ! At the end of the day Google will reward you if your visitors are satisfied with the content and usability of your website .
Make yourself strong ideas about categories and tags , but you do not make a higher science of it. If you pay attention to them, search engines like ‘ Google ‘ will reward your effort. Because in the end, it’s just that your site visitors get an added value. In this sense, I hope that I was able to shed some light on the concepts ‘category ‘ and ‘ tags ‘ .
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