WordPress categories and tags are important tools that should lead readers to related articles, keeping them on your site for longer.
And, used properly, they can be important SEO tools.
Here’s what they are and what they do:
I use the analogy that WordPress (your website) is like a filing cabinet – it contains all your content.
In this scenario then, categories are like drawers within the filing cabinet. Typically you would set up one or two categories when your blog is new and assign your posts to one of them.
You will add more categories as you produce more content over time, but it’s important to keep things organised and focused.
Having lots of categories with just one or two articles in each is pointless – it doesn’t help your readers to find related content.
So use categories to file articles within a key subject area, and then use tags to file more closely related articles within that category.
For example, on this blog I have a category called Internet Marketing and all posts that I write about Internet Marketing are assigned to that category.
If your blog is focused on a specific niche you would probably not have too many categories and, after you’ve been blogging for a while, you probably won’t need to add any more.
If your blog is a general blog, though, covering a wide range of subjects, then clearly you will have more categories.
I do not assign a post to more than one category. If you’re organising your content with discipline, and using your tags properly, you don’t need to.
So categories are like drawers within a filing cabinet that contain posts on the same or a similar subject.
Updated – 1 May, 2012
Tags are like folders within each drawer of your filing cabinet. They contain articles on more focused segments within general categories.
Using the Internet Marketing category example from above, I would create different tags for different Internet Marketing techniques.
For example, I have a tag for ‘Social Network Marketing’, another tag for ‘Email Marketing’ and so on.
So an article on Email Marketing would go into the Email Marketing tag (folder), which would be within the Internet Marketing category (drawer within the filing cabinet).
What do they do?
Tags and categories are WordPress’ filing system. They are a means of organising the articles in your blog and, therefore, help both your readers and the search engines to find related content.
For more details on how to use categories and tags in WordPress, including how to use them to strengthen your SEO, read this article.