WordPress website owners often ask questions about what is more important and better for SEO: Categories or Tags!
What is the difference between WordPress categories and tags? – This is yet another important question!
They also enquire about the optimal number of WordPress categories that can be used, if it is okay to assign a single post under multiple categories or not and how do the tags work?
There are several other questions related to this and in this article we will try and resolve some of these common questions.
- 1 The difference between WordPress Categories and Tags
The difference between WordPress Categories and Tags
They are important for a broad grouping of your WordPress posts like general topics or table of contents for your site.
The purpose of the categories is to help you in identifying what the blog is really about.
It helps the readers by assisting them to find out the right type of content present on your site.
Thus helping them finding out those posts which they may prefer to view.
They are used for describing certain details of your WordPress posts like your site’s index words.
Tags are the micro-data which can be helpful for micro-categorizing your content but you cannot use sub-tags in this case which you can do in case of categories.
For example, the categories that you can put on your personal blog where you write about your life and experiences could be like, Music, Travel, Food, Books, etc.
If you write a post about the food that you had in a restaurant, you can put it under the food category and add specific tags like pasta, pizza or steak, or whatever food you had.
The biggest difference between categories and tags is that it is important to categorize your posts but it is not necessary to add tags for every post.
If categories are not added in every post, they will be termed as “Uncategorized”.
Also, while using customized permalink structure, not having a category will generate different type of links for uncategorized and categorized contents whereas the tags won’t make any differences in this regard.
An optimal number of WordPress categories
Until WordPress 2.5, there was no built-in support for tags, which led to a very long list of categories that could be used for micro-detailing.
Recently, tags are introduced to WordPress for improving the usability of the sites.
As far as the categories are concern, there is no specific optimal number of categories that you can use.
The optimal number of categories is based on how complex the site is.
But, to maintain the structure and usability it is best to use sub-categories on your site.
It is best to start with generic categories initially and then move on to sub-categories as the site grows as categories are supposed to encompass a group of posts.
The fact is as the blog evolves, it makes it difficult to come up with the perfect categories for your posts every time.
In the initial stages of your site, you will probably come up with one to three posts per day, where having a list of top categories will be useless when most of them might have only two or three posts.
It is better to have few general categories that include fresh content rather than having a list of top categories where most of them might not be used during the early days.
Since the categories are not meant to do the entire job of detailing, this is why the use of tags is necessary here.
Like, if you write a post about Twitter, then you can just add the tag, twitter.
You can add a section in your site for popular topics and use popular tags like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and more and put those posts under the category of Social Media.
When to use subcategories?
You can use subcategories when you do a case-study post where you might have interviewed a person.
There is no specific category for adding such posts in your website. This is where you can add a tag for the “expert interviews” in your case-study post.
Similarly, when you do a lot of case-study posts where similar types of interviews are involved, you can add the expert interviews in your sub-category under the main category, which is Case-study.
Using a sub-category is optional. You can easily use tags to specify certain things.
Adding sub-categories only makes it easier for the visitors of your site to find out the content and that is why they should be used carefully.
The entire purpose of using tags and categories is to make it easy for the viewers to find the posts they are interested in.
Can you assign one post to several categories?
The whole purpose of categorizing the content is to help the viewers finding the content they are looking for.
Using multiple categories for one post can make it difficult.
If a post has two or three categories like Advertising, Marketing, and SEO, then you can use a category that includes all these categories in it like, Business or add your post to one category like Advertising and marketing and you can use SEO as a sub-category.
Using multiple categories has no benefits in terms of SEO, but, if you think your posts can be helpful to the users when multiple categories are used, you are free to do so.
WordPress does not limit the usage of tags in a post. You are free to use as many tags as you want in your posts, ensuring that the tags serve the purpose of your posts.
Tags are basically the popular keywords that you can use to help the users in relating and finding the posts that they are looking for.
WordPress Categories Vs Tags: Which is better?
Under this topic, the most asked questions are if there is any benefit of using the categories over tags or using Tags over categories in terms of SEO.
There are no such SEO benefits to using either of them over the other.
They are supposed to work hand in hand to enhance the usability of your site and increase the visibility of your posts to the users.
The tags and categories have individual purposes for helping the users reach your posts easily and so, they should be used with utmost care.