WordPress Categories and tags always confuse newbie bloggers when they start writing blog posts.
Let me explain these two to you in simple terms
WordPress categories help you to group a broad range of posts that are related together in one net. Whereas WordPress tags are used to group posts that are only specifically related to each other in one place.
There is always the confusion of either adding posts to categories or tags only or adding posts to both WordPress categories and tags.
Here is the deal, these two are good for SEO, and at the same time bad for SEO, if used wrongly.
In this blog post, you will learn how to create categories and tags for your blog. You will also learn why you should or shouldn’t create several tags and categories for your blog posts.
What are WordPress Categories
WordPress categories help you to group or organize your blog posts to make navigation of your site easy.
The point here is, categories make searching for content on your blog easier for your visitors.
A lifestyle blog typically has post content about travel, family, self-care, etc. All these topics need to be grouped in specific categories so they don’t mix up.
Categories also help search engine crawlers find it easy to crawl and index your blog post seamlessly.
Again, creating categories for your blog posts helps give your site an SEO structure which makes your whole website structure optimized.
But there’s the catch
Only add a post to a category if it’s relevant to the category.
A cakes recipe post has no business being added to a rice category.
Do you catch my drift?
Relevance is what is needed with WordPress categories.
How to create categories in wordpress
Creating a category is not as difficult as you think it may be.
What you have to bear in mind when creating your categories is to name your categories with keywords you want to rank for.
Using a food blog as an example, you can create categories for keto recipes, chocolate cake recipes, Italian pasta recipes, etc. Instead of generic names such as cake, keto, pasta, etc.
But you can use these generic names as your category names if you intend to make them parent categories for child categories.
In that case, you can have the parent category as cakes; and under this parent category, you will have child categories such as chocolate cake recipes, sponge cakes recipes, strawberry cake recipes, etc.
Here is how to create a category in WordPress
To create categories in WordPress,
- Login to your WordPress dashboard
- From the menu hover on posts
- Select categories from the posts menu
- Enter the title and slug for the category
- Click on add new category
NB: The slug will be the URL for your category. You can leave it empty or enter one for your category.
Example: category title: cakes slug: best-cake-recipes
The category titled cakes is the parent category. To create a child category for your category, follow these steps
- Select posts from the menu
- Click on categories
- Give your category title
- Enter the slug for your category
- Select the parent category the child category falls under like below
NB: You can write descriptions for your categories but it is not entirely important. Some themes may show the category description others too may not.
Should you decide to write a description, make sure to include keywords in your descriptions.
How to add a post to a category in WordPress
- Select the post you want to add to a category from your dashboard
- Click on the settings icon at the top right of your post
- Select document
- Scroll down to the categories box
- Select the category you want to add your post
NB: Make sure to deselect the uncategorized box any time you publish a post.
Can WordPress Pages have categories?
WordPress pages currently can not be added to categories. Categories in WordPress work for posts only and not pages.
But, there are some plugins that you can install and use to categorize your WordPress pages.
So how can you actually create and use WordPress Categories the right way?
Here are 7 part guidelines for creating and using WordPress categories the right way.
- Do not create several empty categories.
- Use simple .keywords to name your categories.
- Make the slug of for your category keyword rich.
- Your category title does not necessarily need to be the same as your slug.
- Link posts to relevant categories.
- Don’t add the same post to the parent category and child category. It creates several duplicates of the same post.
- Always remember to uncheck the uncategorized box when adding a post to a category.
Why are wordpress categories important?
You need to create and use categories; because it helps you to organize your blog posts and makes the overall site navigation experience for your blog visitors worth their time.
That’s not all
Categories do a great job of increasing the dwell time of your visitors.
How is that possible?
Well, that is because other posts in that category may catch the eye of your visitor.
I personally love binge reading posts in categories on other blogs and I can say most blog visitors do the same.
Does using categories create duplicate pages?
The simple answer to this question is YES. Categories create duplicate pages of your post.
Your duplicate post in your category might do well on search engines to the neglect of the original post.
If you don’t want that to happen, there is a way to not make the duplicate posts not appear on search engines.
In fact, there are two popular ways to do that. That is by adding a canonical rule to a post or no-index your categories.
What is a canonical rule?
A canonical rule simply means adding a line to a post to tell search engines which post is original.
When you tell search engines which one of the same posts is the original one, search engine crawlers will ignore the duplicate page and rank the original post.
If you use Yoast or any other SEO plugin you can set your canonical rule for a post easily.
For more on canonical rules, read this post by ahrefs.
To set a canonical rule for your post here is what you should do using Yoast.
- Select the post you want to set the canonical rule.
- Scroll down to where the Yoast box is.
- Click on advanced
- Enter the url of the post in box under box under Canonical
How to No-index categories
To no-index simply means you do not want search engines to make some parts of your blog to appear on search engines.
Here is how to no-index your categories using Yoast.
- Click on the Yoast button in your wordpress menu
- Select search appearance
- Click on taxonomies
- From the categories box, toggle the no button on
- Scroll down to save changes
How to delete categories in wordpress
- Go to categories
- Select the category you want to delete
- Scroll to the bottom of the category page and click on delete
Simply click on delete under category title from the categories table.
Remember to redirect your category to a post to prevent it from showing a 404 or error page when visitors use the category URL to visit your blog.
What are tags in WordPress
Tags in WordPress are used to focus on specific topics that are found in categories. Tags are useful when they are used strategically together with categories.
For instance, instead of creating a subcategory or a child category for the cakes category, you will create a tag instead.
For example, when writing a post on how to prepare sponge cakes and add it to your cakes category, you create a tag titled sponge cakes. This way, anytime you write a blog post under sponge cakes, you will add it to the sponge cakes tag.
Very important: Do not create tags that will compete with your categories.
The names for your and slugs for your categories should be different from that of your tags.
To explain further, when you create a category titled cakes, do not create a tag with the same title or slug as that of the category.
What do tags do on WordPress?
WordPress tags help group-specific blog posts that are related together.
For example, all sponge cakes recipes should be added to the tag sponge cakes.
Here is how to create tags in WordPress
- Click on posts in WordPress
- Select tag
- Enter a title for your tag
- Write a slug for your tag
- Give your tag a description (if you want to)
- Click on Add new tag
How to add tags in WordPress to a post
To add a tag to a post follow these steps
- Select the post you want to add to a tag from your dashboard
- Click on the settings icon at the top right of your post
- Select document
- Scroll down to the tag box
- Select or enter the title of the tag you want to add to your post
Most newbie bloggers think that tags are like hashtags for social media, which in some way could be true.
Unlike social media hashtags that you can add more than 20, in WordPress, doing so adds more load to your page.
Why is that so?
Any time you create a tag, it creates a new page on your site which in this case becomes a duplicate of your post.
Let me explain to you further.
If you write a post on let’s say how to start a blog.
Then you proceed to add this post to the following tags
blogging, blogging for money, make money online, work from home, etc
All these tags which you have placed this one post in will create new post pages under each tag.
Imagine if you add 20 tags to this post, how many post pages are you going to have?
Is it not 21 post pages of the same post, all on your site?
Although Google says it doesn’t penalize duplicate posts, there have been some SEO experiments that show that duplicate pages do have an effect on page rankings.
Other than having duplicate post pages it increases your site resources which could eventually slow down your site.
Let me emphasize that,
Tags in WordPress can be effective when used wisely. Wisely as in using it to group products or posts that are closely related.
If you decide to use tags, make sure the URL or slug of the tags you create are keyword rich and it is something people search for on search engines.
I will advise that you add a post to one or two tags instead of adding that same post to different several tags.
What is the difference between categories and tags on WordPress?
A category is a group that features a broad range of topics whereas tags feature posts that are more specific and super related.
Cakes- where all cake-related posts will be added
Eg. Sponge cake recipes, chocolate cake, strawberry cake etc
Chocolate cake- where only recipes for chocolate cakes will be added
Eg. Chocolate rum cake, sour cream chocolate cake, chocolate bundt cake, etc.
Should I use tags in WordPress?
You can use tags in WordPress but it is generally beneficial for e-commerce sites. Other than that as a normal blogger, you don’t really have to use tags in WordPress.
Do WordPress tags help in SEO
WordPress tags help in SEO to some extent. They do help when used wisely..
But honestly, WordPress tags don’t do much to help in SEO. Google has stated that tags look like search engines for them so they normally ignore tags when it comes to site crawling and indexing.
How many tags Should I use in WordPress?
You shouldn’t add more than 2 tags to a post in WordPress in my personal opinion.
WordPress tags should be only added to a post if only it is relevant to the post.
Don’t add irrelevant tags to a post just because you think it will give you more exposure just as social media does.
You can as well no-index tags. Just follow the tutorial above on how to no-index categories.
Should I use Categories or tags in WordPress?
Categories are better than tags when it comes to SEO.
But they all perform different functions.
You can choose to use both categories and tags.
you can ignore tags and create categories instead.
But overall categories should be much used as opposed to tags
What is most important is putting out a quality post that is search engine optimized as well as helps your reader.
How to add categories and tags together to a post
- Select the post
- On the left side of your post page click on the settings icon
- Scroll down and click on category or tags
- Click on the checkbox beside the category and tag you want your post to be associated
How to add categories or tags to homepage menu
For the purpose of illustration, I will be using my theme as a guide. But I’m pretty sure is the same for most themes.
- Go to appearance in your wordpress admin menu
- Click on customize
- Select menus settings
- Click on create menu
- Give your menu a title and click on next
- Click on add items
- Click on categories or tags
- Select the categories or tag pages you want on your homepage
- Select the primary or secondary menu box to indicate where you want the menu to appear.
- Hit publish
NB: Some themes offer double menus on the homepage. One becomes the primary menu and the other is the secondary menu.
For instance, when you visit the homepage of this blog, you will see a menu in my header and one after the blog logo.
The menu in the header is my primary menu whereas the one after the blog logo is the secondary menu.
You can choose to have two menus or not.
I hope this blog post on wordpress categories and tags has been helpful.
To recap, here is what to keep in mind when it comes to WordPress categories and tags
- Categories groups a broad range of topics together
- Tag groups specific or related topics
- Use keyword-rich texts as the URL for both tags and categories
- Don’t use the same keywords and slugs for your categories and tags
- Set canonical rules or no-index tags and categories to prevent them from competing with your original post.
- Don’t add a post to more than one category
- Add posts to relevant categories and tags
- Avoid the excessive use of tags
- Categories are better than tags
Now your turn. What benefits of WordPress and tags do you know and recommend?
I would love to know your thoughts in the comments section.
Dont forget to share or pin this post to refer back to it any time.