WordPress Blog Basics: Tags vs. Categories

Welcome Newbie…
We’ll get ya from wordpress newbie to wordpress not so newbie at the end of this post.

You’ll be introduced to:
Posts and

WordPress Categories vs. Tags

So I was going to go into a bit more detail about what you want to include in your posts… but as you’ll see the discussion of wordpress categories vs. tags ran was pretty extensive – so i’ve saved some of the other info for another post.

I will say this…
Your posts are the life of your WP blog.
There are no hard and fast rules as to what makes a good post.
Typically you’ll want to stick around 1000 words or so. But there are always exceptions- reasons to go longer and shorter.

Make sure you create a compelling headline and capture your reader’s attention from the outset.


-should be broad grouping of post topics. So if you plan to have several posts about the general subject – turn it into a category.


are more specific. Almost like a subcategory but more descriptive of the post.

For example if you have a blog about Cooking/Recipies You’re probably going to want to logically divide your recipe posts. Of course you can present them on different pages… but if someone comes to your blog and wants to find an italian recipe… you can provide them any easy way. Make an italian recipes category. And you could be even more specific.

Time Out! Before you create a category… Do a bit of keyword research and find out what words you want to rank for – and if you can turn that into a category that you’ll have enough high quality content for. Yes it takes a bit longer but you’re blog ranking is going to thank me.

So you’ve written a post about how to make the most authentic italian pasta, from scratch – in 10 minutes or less… and you’ve put it in the italian recipes category. It’s time to tag the post… What was in the recipe? You’re going to want to choose descriptive terms – Here your tags would probably look quite a bit like a list of main ingredients. Pasta, Tomato Sauce, Capers etc…

Easy right?
You’re going to be tempted to go category and tag crazy. Keep it to 2-3 categories at most and 5-7 tags max.

What about for wordpress tags and categories for SEO?
Some people will tell you that you should pick one or the other… either use tags or categories. Wrong. Neither one is better than the other. Also you might ok well you can use both if you want – but make sure only one is going to be indexed. (if you have no idea what i’m talking about here check out this seo basics article)
Again this is a complete misconception. The problem is that these people are using categories and tags incorrectly and probably have a bunch of overlap and duplicate content. In that case – they are right… you only want a term to show up once.

But used correctly you’re categories and tags won’t be competing with each other for the same keywords. Instead they’ll compliment each other and can help your page rank higher by increasing relevance for a term.

Huh? What do you mean I can use both for wordpress tags and categories for SEO?
Ok so if you want your page to be relevant ie. rank for the term italian recipes— then a search engine expects to see other related terms that suggest that your page really is about italian recipes. The tags you set can be great indicators that your post or page is really relevant and should rank for certain keywords as indicated by your category tag.

Wait! Didn’t you forget…What about sub-categories?
So here’s the deal. Same rules apply. No overlap don’t go subcategory crazy. Typically they really aren’t necessary. If you’ve setup your categories correctly and using tags – your posts will be easy for your reader to navigate and will give you good seo juju.

The temptation to use subcategories happens when your categories are too broad. So instead of making an italian recipe category– maybe you’ve just made an Italian category. In that case you’d be tempted to make a subcategory of recipes.
I’ve found that its easier for the reader navigate posts when subcategories aren’t used. That said, if ya follow the rules i’ve outlined AND you make sure that its easy for the reader to navigate and find what they want… then really it’s your choice – use em or dont. Personally i don’t. But again that just my readers’ preference and my preference.

Let’s Review –

  • So Use both categories and Tags.
  • Make sure your tags and don’t overlap with your categories.
  • Don’t Go Category or Tag Crazy!
  • Max 2-3 Cagtegories
  • Max 5-7 Tags
  • Your SEO will Rock if you stick to these guidelines.


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